Civic education, Community development

Youth volunteering in support of local communities

Supporting a network of student volunteers across Bulgaria who are bridging the gap between needs and resources in their communities through volunteering.

Creators

Who is behind this?

Blagovesta Nikolova

Time Heroes Foundation

http://timeheroes.org

Bulgaria

Idea

Idea pitch

Strengthen and expand TimeHeroes’ support for a network of youth, organising volunteer initiatives across small Bulgarian towns by year-long online mentorship, regular in-person training and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. Еquip young people in small towns with tools to identify local community needs and resources in order to bring the two together through volunteering. Inspire them to act for a stronger local civil society, which is often struggling outside the capital city.

Where will your project idea take place?

Towns and villages around Varna, Burgas, Sofia, Stara Zagora, Veliko Tarnovo, among others.

What is the local challenge?

Bulgaria is no exception to the rule that civil society is heavily centralized in the capital, Sofia. Volunteering initiatives still predominantly take place in Sofia and the major urban centres. Based on a 2017 report on the state of the nonprofit sector by the Open Society Institute in Sofia, there are only 20 towns in Bulgaria where more than 100 nonprofits are registered and actively support causes, and 60% of NGOs teams work pro bono. On the other hand, young people are often eager to contribute to their communities, to feel valued, to find activities that develop their interests and bring them a sense of fulfilment and joy. In small towns however, they have little to no volunteering opportunities to do so, as there are very few nonprofits to organise them.

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

By inspiring and empowering students to create their own volunteering clubs and initiatives, we are creating additional volunteering opportunities in towns and villages where these are few or lacking. By becoming volunteers, young people dedicate their time and skills to regional nonprofits, who are often lacking funds, while at the same time help them to increase their popularity and visibility among new targeted groups.
Having young people from all over the country participate in local volunteer initiatives in their communities will help them grow as active citizens, as people involved in a cause that excites them, people who are active in spotting and solving problems in their own communities. This lays the ground for a stronger local civic society.

Who are you doing it for?

Our target groups are school students at all grade levels, their families, teachers, local nonprofit organisations and activists. Students who are part of our network of volunteering clubs can organise their own volunteering initiatives or take part in existing ones on a topic of their interest (human rights, environment, etc.). We help them build bridges with marginalized groups in their communities by connecting them with relevant activists and nonprofit organisations with personal experience or expert knowledge on the issue at hand. They can thus gain better insight into the topic and the real-life experiences of people affected by it. We also advise them how to inspire new volunteers, how to find support from their teachers and families, and how to partner with local institutions.

How do you plan to get there?

We will provide year-long online mentorship for youth leaders, including the creation and free distribution of resources such as handbooks, templates for organising volunteering initiatives, posters for recruiting volunteers, stickers, badges. We will offer multiple in-person training sessions and peer-to-peer learning opportunities for youth leaders and members of the clubs. In our network there are youth leaders with considerable experience in conducting volunteer initiatives – we will give them the floor so they can share the knowledge with their peers. We will connect youth with activists/NGOs working on topics of interest (e.g. human rights, environment) for deeper understanding of the issues so they can create meaningful volunteering initiatives.

What are the expected results?

We expect
- an increased number of newly created volunteering clubs in small towns and villages;
- an increased number of successfully organised volunteering initiatives;
- a completed program of bi-annual in-person training sessions;
- at least 100 students who have taken part in trainings on developing their communities through volunteering
- successfully established contacts between student volunteers and various nonprofits and activists;
- partnerships built across sectors, including between volunteer clubs, local businesses, institutions, NGOs
- indirect results: increased support for the work of local nonprofits, and increased popularity and visibility among new targeted groups.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Since 2012, we have witnessed how participating in a single volunteering initiative can inspire people to be passionate long-term advocates for societal issues, or to even change their profession and become more connected to their communities.
The long-term impact that we envision will be an increased support base for local nonprofits, as a fruit of their direct contact with young volunteers, which will enable them to focus on their strategy and actual work, instead of on surviving. The project will also contribute to an increased sensibility towards social issues, human rights, civic engagement and will build bridges between local actors (nonprofits, activists, businesses, media, schools, libraries, social institutions etc).

What is your story?

The main mission of the Time Heroes Foundation is to develop and sustain a culture of volunteering in Bulgaria. So far, we have connected more than 70 000 volunteers with more than 760 nonprofit organisations, who successfully accomplished more than 2000 volunteering initiatives. And this is the official statistics only. We are constantly working toward promoting the values of volunteering and our goal is to increase the number of volunteers and organisations that work with volunteers, as well as to be able to provide everyday guidance, training and useful materials in order to increase the capacity and visibility of NGOs across the country.

It also wouldn’t be too much if we say that we simply love working with young people, helping them find their mission.

€ 45500,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 45500,-

Total budget

Major expenses

€ 15,000.00 - project management and administration
€ 9,700.00 - project communication and dissemination
€ 16,600.00 - training, materials and resources
€ 4,200.00 - website support, office expenses, other

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to know more on how young people and school students are dealing with similar problems in other countries, is volunteering popular, are there enough opportunities for them.

Team

TimeHeroes

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

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