Case Studies

Case Study: Policy, Program, Communication, and Technical Support for USAID

  • Victoria Robinson
  • May 21, 2023
Diverse team sharing papers with marketing strategy


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Policy, Learning, and Resource Managment (PLR) faced a significant challenge in ensuring that their international health IT and governance processes were informed by evidence and analysis. To achieve more effective development interventions and maximize the impact of aid, PLR required facilitative and development support to ensure the success of the Program Cycle, USAID’s major process for driving these goals.


Highlight assists PLR’s Program Cycle and program activities across four key areas: Policy, Program Support, Communications, and Technical Assistance. In the Policy area, Highlight staffed a dedicated Policy Analysis Team to meet the Agency’s need for a think tank-like research ability. We provide SMEs to increase diversity of thought within the Agency, ensuring that they were cutting-edge, while also elevating the Agency’s thought leadership among external global development policy experts.

Highlight’s Program Analysts provided high-level technical support to facilitate the effective achievement of all PLR priorities, including policy leadership, donor coordination, Program Cycle implementation, and USAID Forward reforms. This comprehensive support ensured that PLR could navigate complex challenges and deliver results effectively.

Recognizing the importance of strategic communication, Highlight researched and implemented the PLR Communication Strategy to publicize PLR’s work to targeted audiences. The team created content and messaging for public relations and press management, briefings for Capitol Hill, informational materials such as factsheets and newsletters, and managed PLR’s social media accounts.

To support the Missions, Highlight implemented technical support for USAID operational policy and practices related to strategic planning, project and activity design and implementation, and program monitoring, evaluation, and learning. During periods of heavy workload, Highlight delivered short-term surges in specialist expertise to develop technical assistance and program support, which included communication, program management, training, staff development, and facilitation support.

As a result of Highlight’s comprehensive support, PLR achieved several significant milestones. In collaboration with stakeholders at M/CIO, the team assisted in launching an online, public Development Cooperation Landscape Tool. This tool empowered USAID staff and partners to view and analyze the budgets and programs of other development cooperation actors working in a country, enabling USAID to better understand partners’ priorities, effectively leverage resources, identify areas of alignment, and reduce duplication of efforts across various regions.

To better communicate USAID’s progress in eradicating extreme poverty, Highlight’s team researched, analyzed, and developed a log of stories and photos highlighting key issues and accomplishments. They presented this story through various engaging formats, including written articles, social media posts, fact sheets, and presentations, making it easy for Bureau staff to showcase successes in programming. Over the course of a year, Highlight’s management of PLR’s Twitter account, @USAIDPolicy, generated over 500 tweets and 600,000 impressions, attracting more than 1,300 followers. This successful social media strategy significantly increased PLR’s visibility and engagement with key audiences.


  • Policy Analysis Support
  • Planning Support
  • Administrative Support
  • Strategic Communication
  • Technical Assistance
  • Web Services
  • UI/UX


Highlight’s support enabled PLR to achieve organizational and behavioral change, creating an enabling environment for Program Cycle reforms to take hold. Through enterprise process improvements, the team developed and implemented a Program Cycle Engagement Strategy that connected with internal and external stakeholders and promoted organizational buy-in to institutionalize the Program Cycle. We equipped USAID Offices and partners with tools, technologies, and processes empowering informed decisions, and ultimately increasing the impact of every aid dollar spent.