ACE Mentoring Program
The ACE Mentoring Program was a capacity building initiative implemented by the Tanzania Capacity and Communication Project (TCCP). ACE, a practical learning program, stands for “Advancing Communication Experientially.” TCCP designed this capacity building program to empower recent graduates and mid-career professionals in the fields of social behavior change communication (SBCC), communication research, and media, using a blended learning approach.
This program was designed to build individual capacity in SBCC and related fields in order to further seed the health communication community with a crop of freshly trained and committed professionals in Tanzania, as well as to provide additional human resources to partner institutions.
The objectives of the ACE program were to create opportunities for recent graduates and mid-career professionals to hone their skills in strategic health communication; provide participants with practical experience through host and home organizations; and support participants as they developed ongoing relationships with mentors.
How ACE Worked
The ACE Mentoring Program operated on two levels: With interns who were entry-level professionals, experiencing the profession of strategic health communication for the first time; and mid-career fellows who were honing their skills and applying their new learning in their existing positions. Competitively selected interns and fellows each served for six to twelve months, either in their existing position, or in an internship created just for them.
The blended learning approach that TCCP used to support ACE interns and fellows through their experience began with an intensive participatory learning experience, the Leadership in Strategic Health Communication course. This was followed by on-the-job experiential learning, mentoring, supportive supervision, health communication seminars, professional development courses, online learning, as well as practical projects. At the completion of the program, interns and fellows prepared a culminating presentation that highlighted at least one way in which they applied their learning. They received a certificate, and were publicly acknowledged for their accomplishment. New interns and fellows were initiated every six months, and cadre sizes varied from a few as four interns or fellows per intake to as many as thirteen, with total class size ranging from ten to twenty-four.
TCCP recruited mentors from the pool of experienced health communicators working directly or in partnership with TCCP. TCCP trained mentors throughout the implementation of the ACE Program. Supportive supervision training was added for supervisors of the second intake of ACE interns and fellows, as this was an area viewed to be lacking in the first round of the program.