Living in a small urban area surrounded by a large rural community, through our YouthBank program we have learnt that a major challenge we are facing when working with young people is the lack of a meeting space, one that could be versatile to their needs and of those living in the rural areas. We propose a mobile meeting space for all, one where they could meet, drink a cup of tea and discuss about civic engagement and how they could get involved in the local public administrations.
Făgăraș country area, central Romania
The main challenges addressed by the project are: 1. lack of civic infrastructure in the rural communities, involving young people, such as: lack of informal groups, weak or no access to decision and policymaking, lack of community centers, libraries or museums. 2. lack of a space where young people could meet, learn and debate on civic education and engagement issues, their freedom of speech, local public policy and advocacy, as well as mechanisms of engagement with the public administration. 3. the gap between the small urban area (with access to higher education, cultural activities and other opportunities for young people) and the rural communities (that is only able to offer access to education in some rural areas, not all).
As a community foundation having been established in 2013, our main focus has since been on young people and quality education for all. The main program that we implemented aimed at young people is YouthBank. We would like to first focus on the beneficiaries of this program: 15 high school students at the moment, with 15 other former participants (alumni), their peers in the small urban area of Făgăraș: at least 20 more young people to begin with , together with young people from at least 10 rural communities who do not have access to civic education: approximately 50 more young people.
We want to develop a mobile space in the form of a mobile tiny house that would work as a community meeting place/cafe for all youth. As proposed activities and specific steps, we plan to: 1. design and build the tiny house to work as a mobile coffee shop/tea house, that would accommodate a maximum of 12 people during winter time, through small group seminars and workshops; 2. identify the young people in Făgăraș town who would be involved in the project, mainly through our YouthBank team and YB alumni; 3. train and empower these young people to manage the space and assign specific roles and responsibilities - in the form of a social business, meaning that they would use the funds they raise through selling tea and coffee for the purpose of their program (YouthBank is a grant making mechanism by young people for their peers); 4. Form a group of trainers/mentors/experts from FRI (Fagaras Research Institute); 5. form partnerships with all meaningful stakeholders, especially local administrations; 6. Develop a learning methodology and specific lessons plans for the young people; 7. Develop a calendar of events/seminars/workshops and publish it online; 8. Design and implement a communication plan; 9. Implementing the program in at least 10 rural communities around Făgăraș; 10. Evaluate and assess the program (by collecting data, feedback, testimonials, interviews, etc.
A year from now, Făgăraș Country area located in central Romania, characterized by a largely rural population, will be on the path to civic cohesion, due to at least 50 young people who understand the importance of having a voice in their communities. They will be in close contact and in articulation with local administration, will be active citizens and knowledgeable about such civic engagement issues. At least 10 rural communities and Făgăraș municipalities will be aware of the role young people have in shaping the future and will count on their contribution and feedback to policy and decision making processes to start with. The project will help create durable partnerships between local administrations and NGOs, experts and citizens who have strong voices.
Through the project's proposed methodology, it will promote a space that highlights engagement, empowerment and participation, where all young people and local representatives altogether will be able to discuss different perspectives towards issues they both deal with. We will use a multidisciplinary approach, similar to the one that we have used during our YouthBank Academy program - all with a focus on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - democracy, human rights, philanthropy and community development, civil society, foreign policy and diplomacy, European Union, power structures, policies and processes. After the young people are familiarized with concepts and terminologies, they work in groups and debate, brainstorm and present ideas, research relevant data and statistics, etc.
We are strongly connected to the area as we have all grown up here, we understand all community struggles, their causes and effects and we believe we are also the ones who can find the best solutions, in partnership with other people who have the same drive and motivation. We have Stefan, the Executive Director of Fagaras Research Institute, who’s core interest is in research focused on international and community development, development policy and international relations theory. Cristiana is the Executive Director of FCTF and also the YB team coordinator. Cristina is also a FCTF team member, with experience in grantmaking and administrative aspects and Emilia is responsible for building bridges and partnerships, as well as problem solving and development of various concepts.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Tiny Mobile House - Mobile Community Space4All - 20,000 EUR; Staff costs - 5,000 EUR; Mobile space Travel costs from one rural community to another - 3,000 EUR; Design and communication - 2,000 EUR; Trainers/expert/consultants - 5,000 EUR
We would love to find out if there are any similar needs and ideas/concepts in your countries and what your opinion is on our solution to our young people need for empowerment and for a strong voice in their community! What other solutions have you developed for such issues?