We work in regions that literature refers to as ‘civic deserts’.*
In Bulgaria the program is implemented by the Sofia Platform Foundation as one of the main partners of the program, in Hungary, Poland, and Romania MitOst e.V. is co-creating the design of the program together with four local cooperation partners.
In Bulgaria, the focus of the program is on developing the competencies of individuals who care for their local communities and aim for change, but need support in order to achieve it. These are often civics teachers, journalists, community organizers, CSOs, or local administration representatives. Unlike in Hungary, Poland, and Romania, in Bulgaria we work with individuals from local communities from all over the country instead of focusing on a specific region.
In Hungary and Poland our local cooperation partners Alternative Communities Association (AKE) from Debrecen (HU), Dialogue for Communities Public Benefit Association from Miskolc (HU) and the Association NGO Support Centre (OWOP) from Bialystok (PL) work with young organizations and informal groups from their regions on civic engagement and organizational development.
In Romania our cooperation partner PACT Foundation – Partnership for Community Action and Transformation works with two different target groups:
- they identify individual leaders with potential for positive change in specific localities and support their professional development and initiative implementation;
- they work with CBOs on their organizational development and on creating positive change.
*‘Civic deserts’ is a term originally coined by a team of TUFTS researchers and is not framed in order to judge, but rather to flag a problem that is not on the radar of philanthropies, researchers, or journalists.
Civic deserts are places with little to no opportunities for participation and are often in rural areas, outside the big cities, in peripheral regions. In such areas citizens do not perceive themselves as active members of their community, they lack the belief that anything depends on them. There are also hardly any civic spaces like community centers or libraries, actual places where people could come together. There are fewer civil society organizations and they are faced by different challenges compared to their colleagues in big cities.