Hestia Foundation's expertise in psychological assessment and career and personal development will contribute to trainings, assessment of participants and mentors and program impact measurement.
Civic Miracles is an intensive development program that emphasizes the power of social change and civil participation. It is tailored to empower the leadership potential of two groups of people coming from Yablanitsa and Lukovit municipalities: youth (14 - 18 years) and adults (19 and more). The participants are bound to become the positive change agents in their communities: tackling local social injustices and addressing the needs of their fellow citizens.
Yablanitsa and Lukovit municipalities, Lovech region, Bulgaria.
Some of the long-term challenges faced by the region include high unemployment rate, low income, widespread dependence on social welfare. As a result, locals' attitudes are largely ones of disillusionment and hopelessness, coupled with discrimination, distrust and prejudice towards the growing Roma minority. Students lack motivation for attaining good education and most of them have poor academic performance. A lot of them even drop out of school which only makes it harder to improve their way of life. Civic and social initiatives are scarce due to more urgent everyday problems, and volunteering and selfless giving are seen as foolish or suspicious. Those eager to contribute to the community are largely discouraged by the lack of support, skills, know-how and consequently - low confidence.
We are going to attract locals with a desire and aptitude for social change and self-improvement. We are going to engage them in an intensive development program which consists of: a series of training on how to initiate and lead civic movements and projects; mentorship; meetings with local stakeholders; meetings with successful social entrepreneurs from outside of the region. We are going to support our program participants in creating their own projects that tackle local challenges, by offering them guidance and initial funding for their ideas. Participants in our development program are going to become the strong and united network of like-minded proactive and progressive people which these communities are lacking at the moment.
Civic Miracles' development program will have two strands which target two groups of people. The first group will be composed of high school students, 14 to 18 years, who are eager to develop their own leadership skills while addressing a problem in their community. The second group will be composed of working people and stay at home adults at the age of 19 or more who wish they could change something, but lack the confidence or skills to do it. The idea is to attract two diverse groups of people (up to 30 people), coming from different social backgrounds and experiences, who share a common intolerance towards injustice and idleness. We will support them so that they become the change agents in their home towns and villages and are positive role models for all 21816 people living there.
We will design a detailed program by using our knowledge of the community and consulting other organisations, experts and local stakeholders. We will attract the necessary specialists to create an inspirational series of workshops and reliable impact measurement instruments. Workshops will be 7 weekends in total during which participants will learn but also bond and form a strong network. We will also provide ongoing mentorship and guidance for the participants while they put their ideas into action on a local level: we will arrange meetings with local stakeholders, introduce them to people with experience in what they are trying to achieve and take them to places outside of their region where similar things are taking place. We would also back up their ideas with initial funding.
A year from now a strong network of locals seeking positive change exists. These people believe in their ability to influence their own environment and feel as part of a community of change makers who they can count on when they face difficulties. Participants feel pride and satisfaction from the efforts they put into their local projects, while people around them appreciate their work and even help. Participants have gained enough know-how, skills and connections in order to continue tackling community challenges even after the end of the program. We have attracted funding for at least another edition of the program in order to build a bigger community of local social leaders who could tackle more and bigger challenges.
Having an active civil society is the most reliable tool for maintaining a strong democracy. Ignorant people are the easiest to manipulate and when there are whole communities of ill-informed people, corruption can easily triumph there. This is why we believe that by working towards empowering more and more people from such vulnerable groups to defend their rights and strive for a better living for themselves and people around them, we are actually contributing to a stronger Bulgarian and, therefore, European democracy.
About fifty local people from the Lukovit and Yablanitsa municipalities participated in a research we conducted to pin down what the region needs so that the communities there have better lives. Among those who shared opinions are some of our ex-students and it hurt us to see some of them have lost belief in their own potential and in the dreams they once had. Yet, we were inspired by their mature thinking: they talked primarily about the need for change in mindsets among locals, although they face problems like poverty and unemployment everyday. We were also inspired by their desire to contribute to the development of their communities by organizing art and culture events, summer schools, workshops and more than 30 other ideas. Ideas which we would like to help them turn into reality.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
15 000 EUR - funding for the project ideas of 30 participants
11 450 EUR - 7 weekend-workshops and 1 mentor training
3720 EUR - travel expenses outside of the weekend workshops
2500 EUR - assessment, selection and matching of candidates for participants and mentors
1500 EUR - measuring the success of the program
15 830 EUR - personnel costs (project management and honorariums)
1500 EUR - office materials (contribution by Literate Foundation)
2800 EUR - office space (contribution Hestia)
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