The Active Citizens Fund – National programme is one of twelve programmes run in Poland using funds from the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism (known as the Norwegian and EEA funds) 2014-2021, and one of two programmes designated to provide support for activities of social organisations.
The aim of the Fund is to strengthen the civic society and civic activity, and empower vulnerable groups.
Under a bilateral agreement between the Polish government and governments of Donor States, funds designated for supporting the civic society have been divided between two programmes, the Active Citizens Fund – National programme, with a budget of EUR 30 million, and the Active Citizens Fund – Regional programme, with a budget of EUR 23 million. The Operator of the National Fund is a consortium of three organisations, the Stefan Batory Foundation (leader), the Shipyard Foundation, and the Academy of Civic Organizations Foundation. The Operator of the Regional Fund is a consortium of the Local Democracy Development Foundation, Information Society Development Foundation, and Education for Democracy Foundation.
The Active Citizens Fund – National programme is run from 2019 until 2024. It provides support for activities conducted by social organisations in four outcomes:
Outcome 1: Increased citizen participation in civic activities, which includes environmental protection measures and measures to stop climate change (coordinated by the Shipyard Foundation)
Outcome 2: Increased support for human rights and antidiscrimination practices which includes measures to prevent gender-based violence (coordinated by the Stefan Batory Foundation)
Outcome 3: Increased empowerment of vulnerable groups (coordinated by the Stefan Batory Foundation)
Outcome 4: Enhanced capacity and sustainability of civil society organisations and the sector (coordinated by the Academy of Civic Organizations Foundation)
The organisations were able to apply for funding for activities in the outcomes listed above in four calls for applications for grants: two for thematic projects (outocmes 1-3) and two for sectoral projects (outcome 4). Also additional call for proposals for organisational grants funded from the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014–2021 was launched.
The first call for thematic projects was announced in February 2020, and the second was announced in November 2020. The call for sectoral projects, intended to make social organisations more stable and directed towards the entire sector, its individual industries, or organisations operating in a particular region of the country was announced in April 2020. The second call for sectoral projects concerning advocacy and monitoring activities was announced in January 2021. The call for organisational grants was announced in February 2022.
Organisations that applied for grants for thematic and/or sectoral projects were able to apply for an additional grant for capacity building.
Funding was awarded in all calls for applications for grants for activities conducted by Polish social organisations – whether acting individually or in partnership with other organisations in Poland, in Donor States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway), Beneficiary States that make use of EEA funds (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Rumania, Slovakia, Slovenia) and countries neighbouring Poland but not in the EEA (Belarus, Ukraine, Russia). In projects implemented in partnership with organisations in Donor States, it was possible to apply for an extra grant for the cost of participation of a partner.
The Active Citizens Fund – National programme provides funding for activities conducted by organisations throughout Poland, but particular attention is paid to activities of less experienced organisations based outside large conurbations and in areas where access to aid programmes and infrastructure support is limited, and organisations whose activities are directed towards vulnerable groups. In all of the activities, young people is major target group.
In its activities, the Fund subscribes to the universal values specified in the TEU: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.