A resident of the Middle East for more than three decades, Curt Rhodes began his international experience as a volunteer in Indonesia in the 1970s. In 1981, he moved to Lebanon and served as Assistant Dean in the school of Public Health at the American University of Beirut. After witnessing the Sabra and Chatilla massacres in 1982, Rhodes left academia to found Questscope, an British NGO to help provide equal access and opportunity for disadvantaged youth throughout the region. In 2011 he was awarded Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the Middle East by the Schwab Foundation. Locations of Questscope programmes include Jordan, Syria, Germany and the USA.
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- Hybrid Social Enterprise
- Education; Social Innovation; Youth Perspectives
- Areas of Impact
- Middle East & North Africa, Europe, Eurasia, Syria, Türkiye, Jordan, Germany
Questcope recognizes that young people are engaged within interconnected social frameworks of 1) individual aspirations and challenges, 2) institutional responses improving or inhibiting an individual’s potential to achieve and overcome challenges, and 3) the policies defining options, opportunities and access. The co-creation with youth in the design, implementation and assessment of actions is critical to pro-social outcomes.
Examples of Questcope initiatives include the launching of a Non-Formal Education (NFE) programme in Jordan to enable youth to attain 10th grade proficiency to enrol in professional-level vocational training. More than 22,000 young people have enrolled in this general equivalence degree-style programme. Also in Jordan, the Juvenile Corrections Department and Questscope collaborated from 2000 to create a nation-wide mentoring programme for youth – incarcerated, at-risk of incarceration and post-incarceration. The programme was extended to low-income youth and refugees and expanded to include drug prevention – eventually training more than 9,000 active mentors.
In Syria, Questscope cooperated with Syrian youth to found and fund a national NGO – the Syrian Society for Social Development. Initial programmes included informal education, vocational training, outreach to physically- and mentally-challenged youth, mentoring in juvenile corrections and community mobilization. From 2011 on, this national NGO has grown to 3,000 staff and volunteers in over 100 locations, providing support for humanitarian and social development purposes. In Germany, in 2016, Syrian refugee youths involved with Questscope in Jordan or Syria requested assistance in developing programmes and a youth-led organization to allow newcomers to connect with and support each other in navigating their new environment and communicate their stories to the German public. Some 40 Syrians form the core of this group, with more than 200 participants in the initiative.