Community development, Youth participation and empowerment

Giving is receiving

Teaching youngsters in institutional care and local youth of Simitli skills to be socially and politically active through volunteer led teamwork and roleplay.


Who is behind this?

Blagovesta Pugyova

Podarete kniga / Give a Book Foundation


Who is joining forces?

Better Community Club


Planned partnerships: EU Society Club at American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) Student Council of South-Western University (SWU) Blagoevgrad Municipality


Idea pitch

Youth in small communities (especially the ones coming out of institutional care) often lack valuable social skills and the mindset that they can be masters of their own destiny - in their personal life and in their immediate community. We want to bring together children deprived of parental care with local young people from the community of Simitli and challenge them to solve real-life issues through teamwork, volunteering and mentorship in order to build their confidence and civic mindset.

Where will your project idea take place?

The project will take place in Simitli, Bulgaria but will include youth from multiple regions.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Those challenges are not only valid for Simitli but also for Lom, Vratsa, Peshtera, Dolna banya, Mezdra, Samokov:

- A large percent of the young and most active in the community are NEETs
- There are no visible political alternatives in the local governance (e. g. the same mayor for 18 years)
- Young people do not even suspect that they can change anything. There is a general disinterest and disengagement of the youth to the problems of their local community and environment
- Social exclusion of the target group by the larger community

Who are you doing it for?

There are two distinct target groups we want to reach:
- Young people from the local community of Simitli. Those young people have a lot of potential to be active citizens in their community but due to lack of political will are not actively engaged and have no real say in the local governance.
- Young people who are leaving or have recently left institutional care (from Lom, Dolna banya, Vratsa, Mezdra, Samokov, Peshtera) . Those are children who are coming of age and are about to face the challenges of being independent and integrating in the community . After leaving the institution they are often left to their own means and through no fault of their own they enter life with little skill set and even less confidence to be productive and valued members of society.

How do you plan to get there?

I) Curriculum development and participant selection: aimed at participants aged 15-25 y.o. This project is based on a successful event we have established for the past 5 years - 'School for work' which will be revised and updated.
II) Bootcamp: Run a multi-day youth camp in Simitli bringing together the key target groups and people with key roles in the community (local government, youth clubs, universities). Throughout the training participants will be working in groups. All activities and processes are developed as experimental and non-formal:
-Personal development and self-discovery: Setting personal challenges and goals for the program and for the future.
-Career & Future: career prospects and choosing a career path, time management and setting expectations. Teamwork and inclusion through working on real problems that we and (by extension the community) face.
- Volunteering - encouraging participants to explore volunteering as a tool for defining areas of interest and future employment. Participation in volunteering activities (open to the public).
- Wrap-up activity: “Mayor for a day” team effort to solve real-life problems with support from volunteers and community leaders
III) Follow up activities: Encouraging guest participants to recreate activities in their immediate community with the help and support of “Podarete kniga”.

What are the expected results?

Comparing the bootcamp to “School for work” - a successful program we have already implemented - this approach has proven very effective in two ways: 1) Bringing the focus of the society to the problems of youth in rural communities and 2) In helping the most active members of those communities help themselves. We strongly believe that inclusion is achieved through communally understanding and solving issues in the immediate environment.
Through the third phase of the project - the follow up activities we are looking to further support the participants and multiply the impact of their actions in several other underdeveloped areas.

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

The culmination of the bootcamp is the wrap-up activity - "Mayor for a day". During this day we will meet the youth with people in local authority and will learn in a non-formal way and through gamification about active citizenship, taking lead, decision making and how they can take active part in that process. They will engage in a political role-play where they will be given a real issue that the locals are facing. With the help of volunteers and experts they will have to bring viable solutions to the table and "win the vote" of their electorate. We will introduce the youth to those topics through gamification and teamwork.

Why is this idea important to you?

“Podarete kniga” is a network of 500 volunteers who work long term with children at risk in the community and at orphanages. Our role is one of an outside friend, an informal mentor who can provide support and life experience as often those young people live in a dysfunctional family environment or have little available opportunities to learn and develop.
One of our signature events is “School for work” - a multi day bootcamp for young people at risk. During the event participants visit real companies and through team effort learn about career choice, work ethics, and the value of money.
With this project we aim to expand the format “School for work” focusing on building the capacity of our target groups, empowering them to participate and through that process help them integrate.

€ 24400,-

Total budget

€ 24400,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

1) Event planning:
Curriculum development 2 000 EUR
Marketing & Outreach 1000 EUR
Office expenses: 900 EUR
Remuneration: 6 000 EUR
2) Event execution*:
Full accommodation for participants 9000 EUR
Travel 3000 EUR
3) Follow up events:
Marketing and Outreach 500 EUR
Accommodation 1000 EUR
Rental of public space and equipment 1000 EUR

Total: 24 400 EUR

* Two multi-day bootcamps each covering 30 participants

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We are open to any feedback and ideas how to develop the program further. If any of the other participants has ideas about additional activities which would benefit the target group or any good practices in similar projects which have given impactful results - we would love to hear and expand.



Idea created on April 22, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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