Welcome to USAID SCHEP

The Sustainable Cultural Heritage Through Engagement of Local Communities Project (USAID SCHEP), is a USAID project implemented by the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) that uses a unique methodology for preserving, managing and promoting cultural heritage resources in Jordan through a community-first approach. The project began in 2014 and is set to continue until 2022.

We’re active in underserved and economically disadvantaged areas of Jordan that host important archaeological and cultural heritage sites. USAID SCHEP works to connect on-going site surveying, excavation, and conservation to the local communities, forming a mutually advantageous relationship between the archaeological team and the communities in which they work.

USAID SCHEP employs a holistic approach for conducting cultural resource management by utilizing a grassroots social engagement model that emphasizes the local communities as the primary stakeholders in the project.

USAID SCHEP projects provide employment not only through meaningful work on the site itself, but also by promoting the site as a tourist destination and supporting various micro-enterprises within the local communities.

These on-the-ground activities are coupled with USAID SCHEP’s efforts to build a community of practice with academic, government, and tourism professionals to support effective and sustainable cultural heritage resources preservation and management. We work with other key institutions in Jordan to ensure they have the skills, tools, and capacity to continue to engage in best practices for heritage preservation long after our project has ended. This includes updating technologies, educating key stakeholders on best practices, and investing in the next generation of cultural heritage enthusiasts and professionals. For more information on these activities, check out our section on capacity building and institutional development.

The USAID SCHEP Difference

Jordan is home to hundreds of archaeological and economic development projects but USAID USAID SCHEP has some key features that set it apart.

For locals, by locals: USAID SCHEP locations have “Site Stewards” who act as liaisons between USAID SCHEP, the project directors, and the host communities. They are active in the archaeological process, as well as hosting workshops and events for the host communities. These empowered men and women ensure that USAID SCHEP activities ultimately serve the best interests of the host communities and fall in line with the unique social and cultural context.

Marketable, transferable skills: Trainees at USAID SCHEP sites learn best practices of excavation, conservation, and cultural resource management. After training in masonry, surveying, documentation, and other skills ready to use their talents in multiple projects, raising their prospects for future employment in other arenas.

Moving away from seasonable employment: By empowering communities with real skills and responsibilities for site development, USAID SCHEP allows for the possibility of year-round employment.

Promoting cultural heritage as a value: Whether it’s raising awareness of the historical site in host communities, creating hands-on learning activities for underserved schools across Jordan, or promotion of USAID SCHEP sites as tourist attractions, USAID SCHEP ensures that Jordanians and visitors alike appreciate and value the rich cultural heritage of these sites.

There’s more information about the specific sites we’re focusing on, the activities we’re participating in, and ways for you to connect with USAID SCHEP throughout the website. We encourage you to check out our Facebook and Instagram to get updates about our day-to-day activities. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if you would like to get involved in USAID SCHEP.