Civic education, Community development

Civic Starters

Incubator empowering local civic solutions

Creators

Who is behind this?

Ciprian Stănescu

Social Innovation Solutions Association

https://www.socialinnovationsolutions.org/

Romania

Idea

Idea pitch

An integrated approach to support social innovation and active citizenship in medium-sized cities in Romania with a focus on empowerment and community engagement. A pilot phase would take place in 3 cities/towns (Suceava, Craiova and Videle, Teleorman county), supporting solutions to the top local challenges selected by the community. Selected teams (with a focus on youth) receive an intensive 6-month social innovation incubator engaging local actors to foster success and impact + starting grant

Where will your project idea take place?

Suceava, Suceava county, Craiova, Dolj county and Videle, Teleorman county

What is the local challenge?

Opportunities for youth and civic engagement, albeit present in many cities, are still insufficient; youth/social entrepreneurship is still quite low. We engage yearly with >3500 youth and leaders around the country: they report insufficient conversations about the future, local challenges and solutions. Suceava: medium-size, youngest population, largest sanitary Covid-19 crisis, close to border, good academic results, low purchasing power. Craiova: medium-sized, overall low academic results, an even lower civic engagement, most opportunities related to an automotive industry heavily challenged by the pandemic. Videle: small, low academic results, rather close to the capital, low opportunities in the region for the youth, yet a declared interest from the local educational institutions.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

The idea is based on a 3-step approach to engaging the community. Firstly we will create an opportunity for problem prioritization at local level: a conversation with 30-40 local leaders, representatives, businesses and interested citizens. On this local framework we will launch a call for applications for top 3 challenges/locality. The applications will be judged by an independent jury (local representatives, non-local experts, including Fundatia Comunitara for eg). The shortlisted receive feedback from the community (3rd step). Depending on the general restrictions, the meetings will take place online and/or offline. Various groups (business, NGO, teachers etc) will have an opportunity to commonly share expectations, risks & challenges & an easy way to support local solutions.

Who are you doing it for?

The project aims to encourage local engagement and solutions built locally. Some of the stakeholders targeted: youth (students/high-school graduates), educational institutions, local businesses, government officials, social services representatives, NGOs, local leaders, teachers, informal groups etc. We aim to involve ~30-40 people in each locality in the problem prioritization and solutions selection process, identify 3 teams per locality (with the possibility of including a total of 10-15 teams overall) to join a 6-month incubation period to support the growth and implementation of the solutions. Each locality will receive funding of 5000 euros/locality & an extensive fund of 2500 euro/locality accesibile on a 1-to-1 basis (for each euro raised by the teams, we match with another euro).

How do you plan to get there?

We aim to identify through a snowflake approach the relevant members of communities (local authorities, business and civic leaders, church, schools, etc) and gather their opinions on the most important current and future challenges. The main phases of the project include:
Nominations for the most representative leaders in each locality using a snowflake methodology to further expand the lists we have already compiled.
Launching and encouraging local discussion - problem prioritization
Call for solutions based on challenges the community validates as relevant
Session with finalist teams for feedback from the stakeholders
6-months incubation period for the selected solutions
Seed money support and crowdfunding support to match our contribution and increase chances of success

What are the expected results?

As this project is thought of as a pilot project we envision 9 teams that have managed to engage with their local community, connect with a wider community of experts and implemented their solutions. This process would have achieved a higher level of understanding of the challenges they have tackled, a closer relationship with decision makers and citizens affected alike. The most important effect would be an increased desire for collaboration and a model for other localities.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Romania ranks 11th in the Eastern European region in the Democracy Index 2019 with an overall score of 6.49, being ranked as a flawed democracy in terms of the regime type. Romania ranks 63rd in the index worldwide. With these considerations in mind, collaboration and trust building opportunities are highly needed. The project contributes directly to these needs by offering a collaboration platform for local initiatives in a bottom-up approach. Also through this initiative we encourage collaboration and involvement of relevant institutions and continuous community feedback.

What is your story?

We are a think tank and action incubator currently investing in entrepreneurial education, incubating and scaling social innovation and civic solutions by engaging and connecting young entrepreneurs and public policy officials at home and in Europe. We are also developing conversation platforms online and offline in cities across the country engaging local stakeholders to understand together main risks, challenges of the next 2-5 years at local level and support bottom-up local solutions to local challenges.
We strongly believe in the power of action, networks and youth potential. We also know the extensive gap between main cities in Romania and different regions can be reduced with collaboration and encouragement. This is our why.

€ 49800,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 59800,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Human resources 22200 EUR
Communication 12700 EUR
Civic projects support 22500 EUR
Admin 2400 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would be grateful for further advice, comments or feedback regarding best-case practices or key learnings in activating local teams, maintaining their motivation and energy and collaboration between cities.

Team

alexandra.dinu

ciprian.stanescu@innovationsolutions.eu

roxana.cojocaru

Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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