The Emergency Assistance Center food pantry hosted a group of 10 "civil society changemakers" from Belarus Sept. 23 as part of a visit to the Cleveland coordinated by the United States Agency for International Development and the Cleveland Council on World Affairs.

The program "Community Connections," is a partnership program designed to strengthen the professional capacity and skill set of non-profit leaders in former Soviet satellite countries, where civil society is often harshly limited or curtailed due to a perceived threat to centralized government authority.

In an effort to help strengthen civil society initiatives in Belarus, which is governed by one of the most authoritarian regimes in the region, the group visited Cleveland Sept. 7 to 23 to learn about best practices for nonprofit management, meet professional counterparts in the United States, and brainstorm action plans for their own organizations back home.

The Emergency Assistance Center session's topic focused on why fiscal accountability is so important with nonprofit agencies and featured a discussion of the steps that The Emergency Assistance Center took to earn its high rating with the Better Business Bureau.