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20+20 < 21: Leading Suburbia | Civic Europe
Community development, Youth participation and empowerment

20+20 < 21: Leading Suburbia

Intra-city exchange programme to encourage and empower underprivileged young people in suburban neighborhoods to create a better urban environment.


Who is behind this?

Dimitar Mehandjiev

Аssociation Urbid


Who is joining forces?

Ideas Factory Association


Transformatori Association



Idea pitch

Urban governance proves to be distant and complex for young people in the outskirts of the city, especially those in the neighbourhoods where ethnic minorities reside.
The programme will provide 40 youth leaders with the necessary tools and skills to transform small but visible places in their immediate surroundings.
It’s goal is a sustainable network of the next generation of changemakers, who will take care of their neighborhoods, and in 10 years will lead and shape the city's policies.

Where will your project idea take place?

Greater Sofia Municipality - underprivileged suburbs, outer towns and villages.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Youth in the city’s suburbs have little knowledge of and interest in the ways the decisions that directly affect their future are made. This lack of interest and apathy are additionally amplified by the lack of engagement initiatives by the local authorities. The lack of transparency, plus the little efforts for civic engagement in those neighbourhoods are creating a vicious circle that prevents them from social, urban and even economic development. This contrasts with central neighbourhoods where authorities' attention is very and the residents with their better social status are much more demanding when it comes to the conditions and the quality provided in the public areas. Thus, our project is addressing the great civic gap in a very divided city.

Who are you doing it for?

The city is making its first steps into embracing participatory democratic practices. For example, the municipality launched a participatory budget pilot with its “Sofia chooses” initiative. However, those initiatives saw little participation from the disengaged groups residing in the suburbs (just 3 of the 39 projects in the program addressed outer suburbs and received under 0,1% of the votes). There is a huge risk of another wave of civic engagement development completely skipping the suburbs and their young population, further alienating them from the city’s central areas. Those disengaged young people are our main target group.

How do you plan to get there?

- We will create a network of 40 young people from 16 to 21 years, 2 from each target neighbourhood, introducing them to the process of city interventions, and how the municipality, the decision making process and civic organizations work, what are the main tools and sources for fundraising.
- We will develop an exchange programme: selected future leaders from the suburbs will be working together with experienced urban activists and key figures and decision makers from the municipality, thus getting hands-on experience working on small-scale urban projects and general city stewardship processes. This knowledge sharing system (open to the public) will offer both peer learning and ad-hoc support from mentors and trainees’.
- Working in teams of 4, everyone will draft a project for their hometown, village or neighborhood, and the team, with the help of the mentor and municipal consultant, will choose and develop one proposal per team. The participants will implement the 10 chosen urban projects with the help of their mentors and volunteers organized by them. In order to empower and encourage the new leaders, our team will ensure successful completion of their projects.
- Working with the municipality and connected NGO, we will ensure the sustainability of the projects and will communicate the gathered know-how on a local level.

What are the expected results?

By starting small and equipping the suburban youth with tools and skills to transform their immediate neighbourhood, we are aiming to create a new generation of local leaders and networks that will be the foundation of strong civic movement, tackling issues related to decision making for urban development. At the end of the project, we will have:
- 40 young leaders from the suburb trained on decision-making at local level, intervention process and tools, working with local authorities, community engagement and fundraising.
- 10 experienced activists with a newly developed network in the suburbs, ready to support local youth in their future projects.
- 10 completed urban projects/interventions by the suburban youth with the support of Urbid, mentors and their community.

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

Help suburban community members get actively involved in a social or political issues. Providing them with a framework and know-how from experienced urban groups on problems close to them and easy to fix will bring their belief in the power of communities.
Give them a voice in the decision-making and implementation process: with an adapted framework and support from experienced players on active citizenship new suburb leaders will be empowered to initiate the local dialogue and involve their fellow community members in the implementation process.
Providing knowledge about institutions, policies and processes through a project-based learning approach: a huge step for disengaged groups to understand the main principles of governance and democracy.

Why is this idea important to you?

The team’s experience comes from a variety of disciplines: technology and innovation (Yane Frenski, Katerina Vaseva), architecture and pedagogy (Dimitar Mehandjev, Delcho Delchev - Transformatori), design and arts (Dimitar Vranchev), community building (Yanina Taneva - Ideas Factory) in different organizations - startups, big corporations, municipality and governmental, international organizations (UN) and NGOs. Having lived and worked in different contexts, we understand not only how important and yet fragile civic agency can be, but also how specific it is to each place. Urbid has collaborated successfully for more than two years, establishing relationships with institutions and civic groups, building an integrated platform and completing interventions.

€ 38000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

project manager 4000 EUR
community manager 3000 EUR
intervention manager 3000 EUR
urban interventions (materials and logistics) 9000 EUR
meetings and lectures event space hire, equipment 1000 EUR
meetings, lectures and interventions catering 1000 EUR
lecturers, mentors 3000 EUR
travel expenses 500 EUR
grants for participants 12,000 EUR
outreach and communication (video, photo, social media) 1.500 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Please comment and add ideas on anything we could improve on our proposal, or would like us to implement in order to boost civic participation in our city. Thank you!



Idea created on April 21, 2021
Last edit on April 25, 2021

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