Key information about the programme
- The programme is operated by: Ekopolis Foundation (lead) in consortium with Open Society Foundation Slovakia and the Carpathian Foundation
- The programme’s objective is: Civil society and active citizenship strengthened and vulnerable groups empowered
- The programme funding amounts to €9 million and is funded entirely by the EEA Grants.
Why is the programme needed?
The Active Citizens Fund in Slovakia 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.
Over the last years the civil society sector in Slovakia has become a more respected partner to the public and private sectors. However, while the service-providing segment of the sector has developed its capacities based on resources made available by different funding schemes and financial mechanisms, CSOs active in the fields of advocacy, human rights and social innovation suffer from a continuous lack of funding. The need for capacity building in advocacy skills, and in diversifying sources of finance to reduce the dependency on short term, project-based sources, are among the most urgent needs for the long-term development of the civil society sector. In a rapidly changing social environment and with newly emerging challenges for CSOs and the sector, developing and fostering more stable CSOs is critical for the sector’s long-term sustainability.
What will the programme achieve and who are the beneficiaries?
It is expected that the programme will be the main financing source for watchdog, advocacy and human rights CSOs in Slovakia. It will support CSOs promoting active citizenship and social innovations on the local level, and contribute to the empowerment and inclusion of minorities (including Roma). Outreach to under-served geographic areas and target groups is a key priority, and the Fund Operator will undertake specific activities to enhance the capacity of the civic sector and improve the capacity, skills and organisational development of CSOs. The ACF in Slovakia aims at demonstrating the value of the civic sector and consolidate its position in society, introducing long-lasting measures for better functioning of public institutions and contributing to a stronger democracy. This will be achieved through the engagement of citizens, CSOs’ contribution to improvements in laws and public policies, and introduction of new and enhancement of existing services to vulnerable groups. Particular thematic emphasis is put on countering hate speech and ‘fake news’, supporting the development of a democratic and participatory school environment, as well as on providing opportunities for civic and informal education for youth.
The Active Citizens Fund in Slovakia 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 Slovakia 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 Slovakia. 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. The European Wergeland Centre and the University College of Southeast Norway, Drammen are donor project partners in a pre-defined project.
Availability of funding through open calls
In addition to three pre-defined projects, the funding in this programme will be made available through the following open calls:
- Call 1: Call for small, medium and large grants, Q3 2018 (closed)
- Call 2: Ongoing call for ad hoc projects, Q3 2018 (open)
- Call 2: Call for small, medium and large grants, Q3 2020
- Call 3: Call for small and medium grants, Q3 2021
- A separate call for bilateral initiatives is open from December 2018 to February 2021.
Precise timing of calls may be subject to change. More information can also be found on the Fund Operator’s website.