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The call

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DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO 4TH OF MARCH 2015, 23:00 CET.


Content of the program
Target group
Eligible Countries
Affiliation with an organization
Application process
Selection process
Program timeline
Financial conditions
Contact details


We are all part of the development of others – as interested bystanders, leaders, followers or those who assist processes of change. ViabilityNet is a program for those who strive to improve the life of local communities through participation. It is open to all community leaders who aspire to work in an inclusive, accountable and collaborative manner and who wish to make facilitating social change a part of their life-long learning.


PART 1: WHY VIABILITYNET

What problem are we addressing with ViabilityNet?

We often talk about a participation gap in Central and Eastern Europe: democratic institutions are in place, but most people don’t vote, serve in political parties, nor engage in their communities. It is as if public space – in both physical and cultural sense – was not regarded as a shared living space, but simply as nobody’s problem. It then comes as no surprise that state officials don’t consult the public and that few politicians strive for accountability.

Our vision for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe is a society in which people participate in the governance of public affairs. Accepting their share of responsibility for public affairs governance, citizens articulate their opinions and invest their time and other resources to advocate their positions. People believe that they can help shape public affairs and are capable of making themselves heard when important issues are being addressed. Our vision is a society that uses dialogue as a means to discuss and accommodate public interest.

 People adopt the values and habits of active citizenship through their families, schooling and interaction with others. It is not the state, but the culture that needs to change.

What is our strategy?

In ViabilityNet we focus on local communities. On a local level, individual actions can have a significant impact on the life of others and it is here that people often live over long periods of time side by side. For both reasons, we consider them an important formative space for both change-makers and the culture of participation in general.

We believe that a key role in stimulating community life is played by active and inspiring individuals. In order to start closing the participation gap, we want to see community leaders that are inclusive, understand their communities, and are prepared to work for public benefit over the long haul. By setting a convincing example, they have the power to influence their peers and the generation of change-makers to come.

The program will work with 16 leaders of community-based initiatives from the region of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe (see below for a list of eligible countries). We would like them to understand themselves better as leaders, deepen their understanding of communities they work with and reflect on the role they play in them, and to gain further confidence and skills for sustained work with in this area.

To sum this up, our aim is to promote engagement within communities through support of inspiring & inclusive leadership.

 

Who is our target group? 

The program will work with 16 leaders of community-based initiatives from the region aged 25+.

We are looking for people with a high impact potential working for an explicitly formulated social change through their local community. In terms of personal faculties, they will be willing to take initiative, be curious, accept responsibility for their professional and personal development and speak very good English. We are looking for participants who are highly motivated to invest time and energy in developing the capabilities of their communities on a long-term basis and who want to explore and cultivate their leadership style. The program must correspond to present needs of the participants – It is not a “dry-run” training.

The kinds of communities we exclude when we talk about community leaders: ad-hoc (such as festivals or gatherings), virtual (esp. online communities) and geographically dispersed (beyond the scope of a city). In an ideal case, we are looking for people who take a holistic approach to their community. Such community may be based on a shared interest, provided that a significant portion of the benefits it generates is not restricted to its members.

 

PART 2: BASIC COMPONENTS OF VIABILITYNET

The program will be launched in June 2015 and finish in June 2016. Between June 2015 and June 2016 participant will take part in 4 international retreats (6 days long, including 2 days for travel), a group study visit (3 days long, including travel) and will receive a financial grant of 115 000 CZK (approximately 4200 EUR) expendable on a project that contributes towards the vision of ViabilityNet. A part of the grant can be used to further the participant’s learning through fieldwork or further training.

Overall time required: 27 days for retreats and study visit (includes travel days) + 5 days of preparatory reading + variable number of days for implementation of the project.

 Retreats (4 x 6 days)

Participants will attend 4 international retreats designed as a space for reflection and learning. The retreats will focus on three key areas: self-understanding, understanding one’s own community, and methodologies for community work (see below for details). We describe them here as separate components, but in reality the program often combines more than one component within a single activity.

Component 1: understanding one’s own motivations, talents and limits

Where are you coming from as a change maker? What are the values that guide your work? What are you good at and where are your limits? What form does participatory leadership take in your practice? How do you handle conflict and how do you learn from it?

Together with the other participants and trainers, you will be invited to explore the personal dimension of your leadership through these and similar questions. We hope this will be helpful in uncovering the themes that are most relevant for you – and in motivating you to look for further personal development opportunities outside the program.

Component 2: working with one’s community – values, stakeholders, dynamics

What are the cultures and values that coexist in your community? What are its member’s aspirations and needs and how do your projects relate to them? How to get these different groups on board? How have others succeeded in mobilizing their communities for joint action? What are the big challenges you are facing?

Much of the time spent on retreats will be dedicated to joint reflection among participants. Our aim is to provide the group with a semi-structured space to share experiences, get inspired and provide mutual support in overcoming the challenges each of you is facing.

Component 3: skills and methods for effective work in communities

What is the difference between community development and community organizing? How to discern the origins of conflict within a community? What are the different ways of mapping the needs, attitudes and aspirations of community members? How could you verify whether your projects bring about the change you desire?

With the help of readings and guests, we will introduce some of the different approaches and techniques used in community work and encourage the participants to relate them to their own practice.

Study visit (1-2 x 3 days)

Participants will spend another 3 days in groups of 8 on a study visit in one of the countries of the region. The purpose of the study visits is twofold: to take a closer look at select community development efforts and to practice the application of theory of change.

Focus project

Each participant is entitled to a budget (115 000 CZK – circa 4200 EUR) expendable on a project that corresponds with the vision of ViabilityNet and that places emphasis on building power of his or her community through participation.

The purpose of ViabilityNet projects is not to necessarily generate new activities, nor is it to cover operational costs of the affiliate organization. The grant represents extra resources to test and develop new approaches to strengthening the community’s capability to achieve positive social change. We also understand the project as a space for the participant’s further professional development through practice.

Examples of such projects could include: transforming a public space with neighbours, testing a participatory budget in the local community, helping students develop a school parliament, etc.

Participants will be encouraged to earmark a part of their grant (30% at most) for further professional development – such as study visits, training courses, twinning etc., provided it will be closely related to their community work.

Please see the FOCUS PROJECT guidelines for details, available for download at http://viabilitynet.org/ (section Documents).

 

PART 3: TECHNICAL PARAMETERS OF VIABILITYNET

Eligible countries

The program is destined for participants from the following countries, which all share a legacy of a communist regime and are historically part of the same geographic space: Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova and Ukraine (in case of Ukraine, please, contact project managers before applying).

 

Affiliation with an organization

Grants within this program cannot be given to individuals. This is why participation in the program requires affiliation with a non-governmental non-for-profit organization, such as civil association, foundation, public benefit company etc., depending on each country’s legislation. The organization must be able and willing to receive the focus project grant on behalf of the participant and allow him or her to disburse the finances as required.

For a helpful overview of things that should be clarified with the organization in advance, see the Complete Financial Guidelines, available for download at www.viabilitynet.org (section Documents). A model agreement between the participant, the affiliate organization and the Via Foundation is also available there for download as well as the complete financial guidelines.

Affiliation for the purposes of ViabilityNet does not mean that the participant should be an employee, member or a functionary of the organization. We do recommend that participants get well acquainted with how the organization works, however.

 

Application process

The deadline for submitting applications is 25th of February 2015 23:00 CET. The application pack must be sent by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The application pack must contain the following documents: 

  • Application form

(after filling in your contact details in the left-hand box on http://viabilitynet.org/, you will receive a download link in your mailbox)

  • Motivation letter (see instructions inside the Application form)
  • Declaration by the affiliate organization (available for download on http://viabilitynet.org/)

  •  Proof of ownership for the affiliate organization’s bank account

(a bank-issued document proving ownership or copy of the contract indicating the organization’s name and account details – including IBAN)

  • Proof of registration of the affiliate organization with a national authority

(a print-out from an online registry is acceptable)

 

Selection process

The selection will consist of two rounds.

The first round will be based on reading and evaluation of the written applications by a selection committee composed of representatives of the Via Foundation and its partners. 22 shortlisted applicants will be invited for the second round, results will be communicated on the 30th of March 2015.

The second round will take the form of a warm-up day. All shortlisted candidates will be invited for a day-long meeting, discussions and a personal interview. The meeting will last approximately 6 hours on Saturday 11th of April 2015 in Brno, Czech Republic. Applicants will be paid accommodation from Friday to Saturday and will receive a 80% reimbursement of their travel costs (only actual transport) through a grant to their affiliate organization.1]

The final results will be communicated by the 17th of April. Candidates selected for the program will then be asked to complete a more detailed project proposal and submit it by the 12th of June 2015 (see the Focus project guidelines, downloadable from http://viabilitynet.org/).

 

Selection criteria – elementary requirements

  • Currently engaged in grassroots community work
  • Clear commitment to take part in all ViabilityNet events
  • Strong motivation to critically reflect one’s practice
  • Agreement with an affiliate organization
  • Good level of English
  • Age 25+

 

The selection committee will further consider:

  • Track record of community work
  • Content and scope of the focus project
  • Personal motivation to take part in the program
  • Vision for future work with the community
     

 Financial arrangements

Participants will receive funding through two grants: a project grant and a travel grant. The amounts are set in Czech Koruna (CZK). Both grant agreements can only be signed with a non-profit non-governmental organization, which is why we require all participants to affiliate with an organization for the duration of the programme.

The project grant is intended to cover the costs of the focus project and individual learning activities. It also includes a flat fee (contribution) for the affiliate organization (11 500 CZK – cca 415 EUR).

The project grant (115 000 CZK – cca 4200 EUR) will be transferred in two instalments.

  • The first will follow the signing of the grant agreement (by the end of June 2015 at latest) and will consist of 80 000 CZK.
  • The second will be transferred after the submission of the Interim Report in December 2015 and will consist of 35 000 CZK.

 

In order to cover 80% of the travel costs for the 4 regular meetings and the study visit, Via Foundation will provide each participant with a travel grant. 

  • An advance amount (20 000 CZK – circa 720 EUR) will be transferred at the start of the program as a first installment to the affiliate organization.
  • Submission of copies of all travel-related bills will be required after every retreat/study visit.
  • After the last retreat, a final balance will be calculated: any unused money should be returned to the Via Foundation, any deficit of up to 5000 CZK will covered by a second installment to the affiliate organization.
  • Costs of travel to the selection meeting (80%) will be covered through a separate travel grant – see section on the selection process.
  • Only transport costs can be covered by travel grant (this excludes, for instance, per diems).

 

Reporting

Submission of an Interim and a Final report will be required. Both will include a financial part and a narrative part. The Interim report must be submitted by the 15th December  2015, the Final Report must be submitted by the 15th of August, 2016.

At two points in the program, each participant will be asked to arrange a Skype call with Via Foundation’s program manager to discuss any issues that might arise during the implementation of the project.
 

PART 4: GUIDING PRINCIPLES

We believe that participatory approach is not a mere skill. Since participation is a theme central to this program, we want to encourage participants to explore it in depth. Within this context, we want the program provide a safe space for taking a critical look at one’s own strategies, practice and goals.

Since ViabilityNet builds on self-directed learning, the people who guide participants through the program are not more experienced community leaders – older mentors – but guides whose task is to facilitate the process of learning.

For the same reason, the program does not offer a set of skills trainings, but aims help participants identify what their needs are and encourage them to seek additional trainings or learning opportunities outside the program.

Through ViabilityNet, we want to create a framework for both sharing and reflection. We want participants to take lead in fulfilling this framework by suggesting guests, readings and organize separate meetings, study visits or exchanges. 

 

PART 5: CLOSING REMARKS ON COMMUNITY

We will spend some time during the program exploring the concept of community, so this is just to give participants a background to our own thinking on what constitutes a community.

The communities we have in mind live in geographically coherent areas which will usually correspond to a village, neighbourhood, town or city district. This program is not intended to work with ad-hoc communities, such as those found on festivals or training courses. Our understanding of what communities are is close to John W. Gardner’s. We selected a couple of key points from his book Building Communities for quick reference.

We know that where community exists it confers upon its members a sense of belonging, identity and a measure of security. Vital communities can survive change and, when necessary, seek change. Our system of values requires them to foster individual freedom and responsibility within a framework of group obligation, and to be inclusive. Hard realities of today’s world require that present-day communities be pluralistic, adaptive, and in continuous and effective touch with the outside world, in order to protect the well-being of its members within a broader economic and societal context. Healthy communities respect diversity but seek common ground through dialog and a larger unity. The culture of a healthy community encourages individual involvement in the pursuit of shared purposes.

 

PART 6: PROGRAM TIMELINE

Deadline for applications

25.2.2015

 

 

First round of selection results

30.3.2015

 

 

Warm-up meeting (2nd round of selection), Brno (Czech Republic)

11.4.2015

 

 

Second round of selection results

17.4.2015

 

 

Project description submission

12.6.2015

 

 

First retreat

22.-27.6.2015

 

 

Second retreat

7.-12.9.2015

 

 

Study visits

12.-14.11.2015

10.-12.12.2015

 

 

Interim report submission

15.12.2015

 

 

Third retreat

16.-21.3.2016

 

 

Fourth retreat

20.-25.6.2016

 

 

Final report submission

15.8.2016


Organizing team

 Petra Nová  is responsible for the program in the Via Foundation. Karolína Miková (PDCS) and Alena Čápová will guide participants through the program, facilitating the learning process. Other trainers and guests might be invited for specific purposes throughout the program.

Contact details 

Please address any questions regarding the program directly to the project manager:

Petra Nová

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Phone: +420 233 113 370


[1] Participants should make sure in advance that this can be handled by the affiliate organization.


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