The ITACA project

AREA: Social Innovation

ITACA: Rondine’s youth network

The ITACA project, launched in 2019 by Rondine Cittadella della Pace and supported by the Vodafone Italia Foundation, aims to implement the social impact projects developed by former Fourth Year students and designed to respond to the concrete needs of social cohesion of Italian territories.

The project, conceived as an incubator of ideas and designs, aims to enhance the human capital formed through the QAR by developing the network of students in functional, professional and effective relationships, thus generating an exchange of ideas, information and contacts but also useful personal and professional skills to the realization of the projects.

In this perspective, ITACA is based on an approach called “Systemic Thinking” which focuses on the strength of the reciprocity of the elements, in this case of the students, who are part of it and on the construction of a shared vision that arises from specific mental models and good self-control. These elements are linked together because on one hand the mental models need an open mind, new story to grasp and cover the differences in our ways of seeing the world and on the other one self-mastery favors personal motivation that leads to understanding how our actions affect our world. The construction of a shared vision allows group cooperation by exploiting the commitment and ability of individuals to learn from all fronts, in this sense group learning allows to go beyond individual perspectives by researching and building a broader picture of situations to be faced and possible solutions.

In a future perspective, according to this thought, the organizations that will stand out will be those able to make use of the individuals’ ability to learn from all levels of the organization itself.

For this reason, the first training within ITACA began in September 2019 when the alumni body was already made up of sixty people ready to cooperate. Here the first steps towards the development of the projects were defined. We shared the main points of the network, the mission, the vision and created a special official Policy containing a modus operandi and the related rules to follow. The elements of innovation of Itaca are, in addition to the presence of the Rondine structure, the figure of the Project Manager and the E-QAR platform of interactive online learning services.

It is through this platform that tools, resources and personalized content are provided to the alumni for the realization of projects.

These projects are born to respond to the needs of the various Italian territories. For this reason we have moved to various regions to understand the specific needs, meet the stakeholders and provide further training support. The online mentoring and accompaniment activities lasted until February 2020, when, after receiving 28 projects, the most deserving ones were selected through an apposite Commission made up of internal and external experts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of work.  It reduced the physical contact between people, hence we moved the communication of the project online, creating content that can continue with the development of the projects and accompany them until their realization. In times of crisis, the network plays an important role because, if strong, it becomes a place for opportunity, growth and experience, especially when it is held together by shared interests and a common goal. The sense of belonging and adequate training allow the people who are part of it to find creative solutions, solve problems faster and communicate in real time, anticipating future challenges.

Becoming a leader means becoming yourself and this is a choice that is made every day.