Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In conflict, in disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within; now, and for the future.


Mercy Corps recognizes that in the fragile places we work, keeping kids in school and on track to succeed can be challenging, if not impossible.  Around the world 124 million children and youth are out of school – some have no school to attend, others can’t afford the fees and many young girls are simply kept at home.  Access to quality education, especially post primary school, is critical to one’s ability and capacity to participate in the social and economic development of their communities.  Evidence shows that keeping girls in school, for example, can reduce the risk of child and forced marriage, GBV, exploitation and HIV/AIDS.   We know that refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children and this gap grows as they age – only 22% of refugee adolescents attend secondary school compared to a global average of 84%.   In 2016, more than 3.5 million refugee children did not attend school.  This lack of access to quality education is fueling poverty, unemployment, under-age marriage and instability.

Mercy Corps’ existing portfolio of education-related programming covers a spectrum of interventions in varying contexts targeting different demographics.  Interventions include: formal secondary and primary school, informal and non-formal education and skills building, and learn to earn vocational training and apprenticeships.  Despite the varied portfolio, Mercy Corps has never had a unified approach to education or a clear business development, partnership and fundraising strategy.

Purpose / Project Description:

The goal of this consultancy is to provide strategic guidance for how Mercy Corps approaches education in emergency and humanitarian settings as part our existing program and fundraising priorities in the coming years.  We aim to understand what the opportunities are in this space for us and the options for building a robust portfolio in this space.  The consultant will identify: our existing strengths within the community of education actors, where and how technology is being used to advance access to and quality of education for young people; funding streams and partnerships that can help us capitalize on these strengths and build this portfolio.  The focus will be on education for 10-19 year old adolescents, including: formal, non formal, and informal education; remote, in-school and blended models; learn to earn programming; and tech-enhanced programming especially for people on the move and/or displaced due to conflict or natural disaster.

Consultant Activities:

The Consultant will:

Task 1:  External Landscape Review and Analysis

The consultant will conduct a brief landscape analysis surveying academic and grey literature (i.e. secondary sources) for best practices and lessons learned on digital edtech tools in use within the development industry as well as by universities for distance learning degrees and course. This may be inclusive of free tools, like MOOCS. As possible, the landscape review will include information on how the tools were resourced/funded.  In the review of ed-tech programming, the consultant will consider the availability of mobile services, the use of mobile services and relevance of the tools/platforms provided, including noting any evidence available.

Task 2: Internal Interviews and Portfolio Review

The consultant will review program documentation of what Mercy Corps is already doing in the field of education and education for employability (Learn to Earn) in humanitarian settings.  In addition, the consultant will conduct interviews with Mercy Corps staff in order to provide context and insight on current activities. The consultant will develop a questionnaire in collaboration with the Senior Director TSU, and then conduct 3-5 interviews (with individuals or groups). The consultant will then synthesize the key internal interview findings and existing program information, and identify where there are opportunities for including technology components as per the landscape analysis.

Task 3: External Interviews – Funders

The consultant will conduct 3-5 interviews with leading institutional and foundation donors in order to analyze current trends and opportunities for Mercy Corps today and in the future. Where possible, the consultant will include quantitative information and funding forecast for specific education sectors (geared towards 10-19 year olds, such as non-formal, informal, learn to earn, social emotional learning, tech enabled models) by geography.

The consultant will leverage its existing contacts to arrange the interview, but will also include individuals that Mercy Corps is particularly interested in and has relationship with already.

Task 4: Technical NGO & Social Enterprise Profiles

Leveraging existing contacts with many of the leading NGOs and social enterprises, the consultant will provide profiles for 5-10 technical education focused NGOs including their program portfolio, main funding channels, and reputation based on data availability. The consultant will base the analysis based on the combination of interviews, annual reports, financial documents (990’s), and other sources of public information. The consultant will rank order the potential for partnership or otherwise classify on a “high” “medium” or “low” scale for potential partnership match with a particular emphasis on those NGOs who are also actively incorporating technology in their work and/or seen as leaders in this area.

Task 5: Strategy Document Outline

Based on the preceding analysis, the consultant will synthesize the key findings into a 2-3 page strategy document with specific recommendations for Mercy Corps on how to frame our technical approaches to best align with the issues and donor priorities. The consultant will work closely with the Senior Director TSU in order to incorporate feedback and iterate on the document several times before finalizing.

Consultant Deliverables:

The Consultant will deliver the following:

Deliverable 1:  Analysis of external landscape on Education in Emergencies (EiE) and the tech-enabled education space, including a succinct taxonomy (3-5 pages) of emerging practices, best practices, key approaches/outcomes and links to current evidence.  The review should note where gender and age considerations are taken into account and where they are absent.  (estimated 5 days)

Deliverable 2: Interview summaries and a rapid analysis of Mercy Corps’ existing and recently closed portfolio of education activities.  (estimated 4 days)

Deliverable 3: Interview summaries and an overview of major global development funding streams – institutional and foundation donors – focused on education in emergency/humanitarian settings, and an analysis of best opportunities for Mercy Corps. (estimated 5 days)

Deliverable 4:  Analysis of partnership opportunities, including an overview of leading 5-10 ed-technology focused NGOs or social enterprises covering their program portfolio, main funding channels, and reputation.  (estimated 7 days)

Deliverable 5: A strategy document outlining Mercy Corps’ approach to educations in emergencies/humanitarian settings.   (estimated 6 days)

Timeframe / Schedule: up to 27 days  with final deliverable submitted by Jan 30, 2019

Consultant Qualifications:

  • 5-10 years’ experience as a practitioner with both education (including experience designing, managing, evaluating, or supporting secondary education access and quality programming in the field) and digital technology (including SMS, MOOCs, mobile services, other education platforms, technology equipment – tablets)
  • Extremely strong writing skills
  • Ability to synthesize information, coordinate with diverse stakeholders at Mercy Corps and work independently.
  • Interested candidates should include their daily rate in their cover letter.


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