2021 Idea Challenge

We are happy to announce 18 winning ideas from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe that strengthen civic engagement as well as social and political participation to tackle societal challenges at the local level.

Read more about the winning organizations and projects below.

This year's Community Award winner is the project "Good winds from land".

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by Olga Zarko

Bulgaria

Danube Design Lab

By the Collective Foundation

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In Ruse, Bulgaria.
In Ruse, deindustrialization has left the river detached from the city while career and social opportunities for youth have diminished. The Danube Design Lab empowers socially excluded youth to change their environment. With help from mentors and in dialogue with officials, vocational school students design a public space that opens the riverfront to the people. Students learn how to find allies to realize their vision and they become social entrepreneurs who activate urban and civic development.

Croatia

Challenging Youth

By Centar Krugovi

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In Novi Zagreb, Croatia.
Challenging Youth aims to engage youth in the local decision-making processes and the development of the community, as well as give voice to marginalized groups in the community. We will organically create a youth initiative and move on to empower them by educating them in civic activism, mentoring them every step of the way. The end goal is to create Youth Councils in three different local committees in Novi Zagreb.

Exploring Pathways to an Ecological Renaissance

By PRONI Centre for social education

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In Vukovar, Croatia.
Vukovar in Croatian means sacrifice, war memories, and a divided community tied up to the past. The past engulfs the present as 2021 will mark 30 years since the city fell. Mindful of unhealed wounds, the project explores a chance to open up a space and introduce the community to ways of tackling the challenges of today and the future: climate change, consumerist culture, and outdated economic models. Our learning circle of communityleaders will co-create a vision of an ecological and peaceful renaissance for Vukovar.

Czech Republic

Taking the fear out of local politics

By Nadace Via

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In different towns and villages, Czech Republic.
Engaged citizens who want to serve their communities as local representatives often know little about the workings of the local government. They often want to use their vision and goodwill in local office, but they fear diving into the dog-eat-dog world of politics. With this project, we aim to give local citizens the confidence, knowledge, and skills to participate. In addition, we will introduce them to civic education and networking as well as offer them mentoring from an experienced local politician and a small grant to help them and their community on their way.

Greece

Dialogue & Action for the Future

By Dock – Social Solidarity Economy Zone

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In the village of Manganiako, Greece.
The small village of Manganiako is facing the challenge of growth and development in a changing world. Its demographics and local economic and social structures are in steady decline. But even smaller communities can become actors of change. This project aims to raise awareness, build the necessary capacity as well as social and civic infrastructures, not only to avoid further desertification but also to regenerate the community in a more viable and sustainable way.

Make it Green
Lesvos

By Sporos Regeneration Institute

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In Lesvos Island, Greece.
The world is racing towards carbon neutrality by 2050 to reverse climate change. We want youth to be at the forefront in this race. Local and refugee youth in Lesvos have few opportunities to learn about restorative and sustainable practices and have no opportunities to co-exist and learn from each other. This project aims to teach youth about the environment and incorporate drama-based activities to increase their self-esteem and enable them to be active citizens.

Hungary

All Equal Under the Sun

By Működők Egyesület

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In Napkor, Hungary.
Roma people in the village of Napkor can only break the cycle of poverty by getting quality education for their children. It is crucial for them to learn how to get their voices heard. Our objectives are to develop the capacity of the Roma community to participate, to build bridges between them and local institutions, and to help them raise their children. To that end, we have an idea for a complex project that includes learning through skill development as well as acts of cooperation.

Burning issues

By Dialóg Egyesület

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In Sajó valley and Miskolc, Hungary.
Energy poverty is a considerable challenge in North-East Hungary. It is a topic at the intersection of various social, housing, and climate policies, therefore the process of finding the right tools to fight it requires careful consideration, dialogue, and informed, participatory decision making. The project will create space and provide mentoring for citizens of different social statuses and with differing views so they can learn from each other and come up with ideas they can start converting into action.

Italy

EVERYONE’S OASIS. From being apart to being a part

By Cultura e culture Associazione

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In Vicenza, Italy.
Desert oases are peaceful meeting places and cultural crossroads. The project aims to promote inclusiveness by fostering mutual exchange between different ethnic groups, with culture as a main tool, while encouraging active citizenship through dialogue between local institutions and citizens. All participants have the chance to take part in training and engaging activities, both formal and informal. We look forward to a lively and inclusive oasis spreading all over the city.

Trails of Participation-Sentieri di Partecipazione

By Associazione DragoLago

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In Orta, Miasino, Armeno, Gozzano, Ameno, Invorio, and Bolzano Novarese, Italy.
Depopulation, lack of opportunities for youth, isolation, and neglected commons are all challenges faced by the seven villages involved in our project. We want to revive our communities, reconnect them, and mobilize them for the preservation of one of their most neglected and valuable assets: the forest and its dense network of trails that has connected our villages for centuries. We believe young people should lead this process through civic participation, dialogue, and community organizing.

YOUNG diverCITY

By Centro Studi Sereno Regis

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Settimo Torinese, Italy.
YOUNG diverCITY is a structured dialogue experience. A horizontal and inclusive space will be introduced to 300 young people aged between 12 and 29 from diverse backgrounds. They will be supported to engage with political decision-makers to rewrite youth policies. This will put youth at the center of local development and enable them to respond to the pandemic in Settimo Torinese. YOUNG diverCITY adopts the European Youth Strategy‘s three stages for the promotion of youth citizenship: Engage, Empower, and Connect.

Poland

Hear me!

By FUNDACJA KOALICJA DLA MŁODYCH

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In Białobrzegi and Grójec region, Poland.
Hear me! is all about listening. We want young people’s voices to be heard and recognized for the first time so that their lives will change as equal members of the community. Our goal is to break the ice among youth and show their promise to the community, involve them in its life, and strengthen their position as real life-changers through gaining knowledge, implementing youth projects, and building dialogue between youth and decision makers.

Portugal

Olhão + Equal

By OFICINA Association

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In Olhão, Portugal.
Olhão + Equal will support the creation of a Municipal Plan for Non-Discrimination as a public policy for the promotion of human rights and social inclusion. It will tackle the growing radicalization of political discourse and fomenting of hatred and intolerance towards some community groups. The project in its different phases will include the participation of a Citizens’ Panel composed of representatives of groups’ victims of discrimination.

Women for Women - W4W

By CRESCER

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In Lisbon, Portugal.
W4W is about giving voice to and empowering women who have experienced homelessness and are in the process of recovery. They want to support other women who are now in a homeless situation by creating a women-for-women, peer-based association. They know first-hand about the greater vulnerability women experience in the streets and want to change this reality and give a voice to their peers while supporting them and advocating for their rights. Through this project, we want to empower them to do so.

Romania

Gutenberg Network - Incubator for Youth Initiative

By GUTENBERG – German-Speaking Students’ Association

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In different towns and cities, Romania.
The goal of the Gutenberg Network is to equip high school students with the necessary actionable skills and tools to become active agents of positive change in the local community in their respective 14 small- and medium-sized cities in Romania. We aim to further develop the framework for an incubator for locally-rooted civic youth and high school student initiatives and individuals. We will provide them with mentoring, tools, and skills to implement local sustainable initiatives for positive and long-lasting change.

Slovakia

Academy of dialogue

By V.I.A.C.

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In Orava region, Slovakia.
The Academy of Dialogue aims to create a platform to teach youth workers and teachers how to use authority wisely and create an environment for youth to grow, develop, and express themselves. By educating and supporting teachers and youth workers, they will be able to design programs for youth by themselves to increase civic participation among youth.

Slovenia

Rise and shine

By Mladinski center Šentjur

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In Šentjur, Slovenia.
Our challenge is to engage youth in the local decision-making processes and the development of the community. We want to give youth a chance to actively take part in solving community challenges. We will implement activities where they will be empowered to propose solutions to current local challenges, create projects, and also carry them out. We want them to know that their ideas and projects are taken into account and that they play an important role in local planning and decision making.

Spain

Connecting Roots

By Connecta Natura

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In Castelló region, Spain.
The rural areas of Castelló province are lacking innovative initiatives that make use of and maintain their heritage and thereby help stop depopulation. We aim to get the rural communities together in a participatory network dedicated to recovering, preserving, and promoting their traditional crop varieties and related knowledge while studying their functionality for the dynamization of rural areas. To this end, we will facilitate spaces of encounter and offer social, gender, and agronomic workshops.