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Europe has one of the richest and most elaborate systems in the world for funding youth-related projects. In addition to the Council of Europe’s European Youth Foundation and the Youth in Action Program of the European Commission, a whole array of foundations and philanthropic organizations are interested in young people and fund projects focusing on their participation, active contribution to society, and international exchange. In recent years, many of these programs have focused on young people from Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe and approaches toward involving them in democratic development and post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction. Others have focused on disadvantaged young people, those living in peripheral situations, or minority young people.
Balkan Children and Youth Foundation
The Balkan Children and Youth Foundation is dedicated to improving the conditions, prospects, and quality of life of children and youth up to age 30 throughout the Balkan region. It aims to increase the effectiveness, scale, and sustainability of youth programs; to strengthen the capacity of children and youth NGOs, local and national, dealing with youth and youth business initiatives; to generate social investments from the business sector, governments, international funding agencies, and NGOs; and to enhance cooperation among the business, government, and civil society sectors to improve the conditions and prospects of young people.
CSR Europe includes around 70 multinational corporations as members. The website is a source of information on corporate funding that targets young people and their initiatives. Among the many corporate funding schemes listed is the Nokia Connections program (www.nokia.com/A4254327), which since 2000, in cooperation with the International Youth Foundation, has provided funding for global youth development initiatives to strengthen the life skills of young people and prepare them for the future. To date, Nokia has invested US$26,000,000 in 24 countries and directly benefited more than 330,000 young people.
ERSTE Stiftung (Foundation)
ERSTE Stiftung is active in the Central and Southeastern European region. Since commencing its work in 2005, it has been developing projects independently and in collaboration with partners within three program areas: Social Affairs, Culture, and Europe. ERSTE Stiftung works on an operational level to create new perspectives, engaging in dialogue to enable increased participation of individuals in partnerships and with an attitude of respect for the people whose experiences, knowledge, and initiatives it promotes and encourages, across borders. Focusing on the European unification process, it aims to strengthen the region of Central and Southeastern Europe. In relation to young people, ERSTE Stiftung is funding a number of projects involving school and university students in educational exchange.
European Cultural Foundation (ECF)
ECF is an independent nonprofit organization that promotes cultural cooperation in Europe and funds projects that have a strong cultural component, including those run by young people and youth organizations. Since 2010 the ECF has two central programs – the European Neighbourhood and Youth and Media which both strive towards their three guiding principles: linking policy and practice, connecting sources of knowledge and instigating change through art and culture. In 2009, ECF grants supported individuals and organizations across EU and non-EU Europe to a total of €1,465,075.
Funders Online is an initiative of the European Foundation Centre (EFC) www.efc.be/projects/orpheus/ and is a useful and easy-to-use web resource for youth and other nongovernmental organizations to determine which organizations and foundations provide funding for youth-related activities. The EFC promotes and supports the work of foundations and corporate funders in Europe.
German Marshall Fund Trusts for Democracy
Balkan Trust for Democracy: www.gmfus.org/balkantrust
Black Sea Trust for Democracy: www.gmfus.org/blacksea
The German Marshall Fund of the United States manages and runs two regional Trusts for Democracy, one for the Balkans and one for the Black Sea region. Although youth activities are not the focus of these trusts, they regularly fund youth activities promoting democratic development and the civic engagement of young people.
German Political Party Foundations
Each of the German political parties runs a foundation. These foundations are inspired by the political ideals of the party but do not promote political partisanship. All the German party foundations consider young people important stakeholders in their work and important actors of social change with whom partnership is necessary to achieve their goals. Each has youth-related programming and some opportunities for young people to receive funding for their activities. This work can have a considerable international dimension (within and beyond Europe).
Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Social-Democratic Party): www.fes.de
Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Christian Democrat Union): www.kas.de
Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Liberal Democratic Party): www.freiheit.org
Hanns Seidel Foundation (Bavarian Christian Social Union): www.hss.de
Heinrich Boell Foundation (the Greens): www.boell.de
Rosa Luxembourg Foundation (The Left): www.rosalux.de
The Nordic Council funds projects with a Nordic dimension and has a large Nordic–Baltic youth cooperation program.
Robert Bosch Foundation
Since its foundation in 1964, the Robert Bosch Foundation has spent 735 million euros on funding socially useful projects. Robert Bosch Foundation is an operational program with diverse activities in the following youth-related areas: health and humanitarian aid, international relations, Central and Eastern Europe, education, and society and culture.
Rotary and Lyons Clubs
While they originated in the United States, the Rotary and Lyons clubs are very widespread in Central and Eastern Europe. In the aftermath of 1989 they have been active in supporting young people’s initiatives. Rotary and Lions clubs are organized locally and, therefore, are known for funding local initiatives of young people.
The Visegrad Fund provides support for cooperation projects among the Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary) and fellowships for young leaders.