Key information about the programme
- The programme’s objective is: Civil society and active citizenship strengthened and vulnerable groups empowered.
- The programme funding amounts to € 23 million and is funded entirely by the EEA Grants.
Why is the programme needed?
The Active Citizens Fund – Poland Regional reflects a firm recognition of the civil society sector’s role as a fundamental building block of democratic governance, human rights and social cohesion. Civil society organisations (CSOs) mobilise participation in civic life and play a key role in promoting active citizen engagement in decision-making at local, national and European levels. CSOs tackle social problems arising from inequality and discrimination. They contribute to the activation and empowerment of disadvantaged people and minority groups, by helping them overcome barriers to participation and ensure that their voices are heard.
For almost three decades Poland has served as an example of the successful transition from communist system to liberal democracy and a free-market economy. During these years Poland built a sound political framework, democratic institutions with strong and trusted local self-government, free media and an independent judiciary. Recent developments show, however, that Poland is not immune to democratic backsliding. Drawing on polarisation of Polish society and political divisions, the country faces deficits of trust and civic engagement. Vulnerable groups, specifically women, people with disabilities as well as LGBT+ people, and various minorities still face serious obstacles in terms of discrimination, negligence, and absence from public discourse. Rather low human rights awareness in Poland is perpetuated by scepticism that still exists towards the concept of civil society and the role of CSOs. There is an undeniable need for support of CSOs representing the rights and interests of vulnerable groups and advocating on their behalf, specifically in rural regions and local communities.
What will the programme achieve and who are the beneficiaries?
In order to contribute to the overall programme objective, the Active Citizens Fund – Poland Regional is designed to respond to the challenges and needs of civil society organisations outside the major urban centres in Poland. It will strive to encourage growth of civil society and its long-term capacity to actively and consciously engage in democratic processes ensuring equal rights and social inclusion. As importantly, the programme will strengthen active citizenship and the greater empowerment of vulnerable groups. This programme will focus on strengthening CSOs activities and enhancing civic participation through regional and local projects and through implementation of three pre-defined projects focusing on issues of special importance.
The Active Citizens Fund – Poland Regional covers the following five areas of support:
- Democracy, active citizenship, good governance and transparency
- Human rights and equal treatment through combating any discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity
- Social justice and inclusion of vulnerable groups
- Gender equality and gender-based violence
- Environment and climate change.
How will the programme strengthen bilateral relations?
The programme will contribute to strengthening bilateral relations between CSOs and other entities in Poland and in the Donor States, in line with the overall objectives of the Grants. Bilateral cooperation shall be mutually beneficial, based on a strategic and long-term perspective, and leveraging the respective strengths of entities in the Donor States and in Poland. Donor partnership projects will be facilitated through matchmaking events and activities in conjunction with the launch of calls for proposals and encouraged in call texts.
Availability of funding through open calls
The funding in this programme will be made available through the following calls:
- Call 1 – March 2021
- Call 2 – Quarter 1 2022
- Call 3 for ongoing projects – Quarter 2 2021
Precise timing of calls may be subject to change.
In addition to the calls, the consortium will implement three pre-defined projects and conduct educational activities strengthening the civil society sector in Poland.
The Active Citizens Fund–National and the Active Citizens Fund–Regional
A second programme in Poland, the Active Citizens Fund – National, is already implemented with an allocation of €30 million. It is operated by The Stefan Batory Foundation (SBF) in partnership with the Unit for Social Innovation and Research (“Shipyard”), and the Academy of Civic Organizations Foundation (FAOO). For further information please see: https://aktywniobywatele.org.pl/.