A new grant programme was launched at a conference attended by representatives of the Polish Foreign Ministry and the Norwegian Embassy, and social organisations from Poland and donor states on 8 January. The aim of the programme is to strengthen and develop the civil society and active citizenship, and empower vulnerable groups.
The programme, for which the budget is EUR 30 million in aid from EEA countries (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), will provide support for social organisations such as associations, foundations, social cooperatives, and rural housewives’ circles working towards greater civic participation in public life, protection of human rights and equality, environmental protection, preventing climate change, and empowering vulnerable groups. The programme is run by a consortium of three organisations, the Stefan Batory Foundation (leader), the Shipyard Foundation, and the Academy of Civic Organizations Foundation.
– I would like to congratulate you for showing such determination and strength. It is due to that determination and strength, and the action taken to overcome a range of different obstacles, that the Fund is able to operate in a spirit of independence, with due regard for the values set out in the Polish Constitution, international treaties to which Poland is party, and European values – Adam Bodnar, Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, said at the official launch of the programme in Warsaw.
The Active Citizens Fund – National programme will provide support for projects put forward by organisations throughout Poland, but in particular activities of less experienced organisations based outside large conurbations and in areas where access to aid programmes is limited. Our aim is to offer the opportunity for funding to those most in need: groups that face discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin, belief, gender, age, or sexual orientation, and vulnerable groups: people with disabilities, people facing homelessness, the elderly, and victims of violence … –Sylwia Sobiepan, programme director, said. – Young people are an important group in all areas in which support is given, Zofia Komorowska from the Shipyard Foundation added.
The programme will provide grants for awareness-raising activities, including grants to improve awareness of civic, equality and discrimination issues, for activation activities and activities related to voluntary work, and action and campaigns to improve awareness of climate change issues, combating prejudice, hate speech, and violence, projects to increase civic participation in decision-making, watchdog activities, intervention in matters concerning respect for human rights and the rule of law, measures to empower vulnerable groups and help them to become independent, measures towards integration in local communities, advocacy for better public policies and law and better policies for enforcing the law, and measures to improve the standards of public institutions and the services they provide.
– Providing support for development of social organisations will be an important element of the programme. Each organisation that applies for grants for a project will be entitled to a further grant to build the organisation, by investing in team-building, improving skills, raising funds for its activities, and improving management and communication etc. – Lidka Kuczmierowska of the Academy of Civic Organizations Foundation said. A separate call will be held for grants for projects to support the civic sector, such as infrastructure funding (training, awareness-raising, consultancy), measures to increase public awareness about what organisations do, or for instance monitoring laws that affect their activities.
On the second day of the official launch, more than eighty representatives of organisations from Poland, Iceland, and Norway met in Warsaw to discuss ideas for collective projects. Applications can be submitted in the first call from 3 February. Another call – for sectoral projects, will be held in April 2020. The programme team will be organising a series of meetings in the coming months in a number of regions in Poland, to provide information about the programme.