The Active Citizens Fund – the importance of civil power
On 23 Oct 2019, the Active Citizens Fund (ACF) in Lithuania financed by the EEA Grants was launched. In 2019-2024 the ACF will allocate EUR 9 million to the strengthening of civil society and empowering vulnerable groups. Its activities in Lithuania will be administered by the consortium of non-governmental organizations – Open Lithuania Foundation, OSFL Projects, and Geri Norai LT.
Opportunity for NGOs to implement ambitious activities
Lithuanian non-governmental organisations will have an opportunity to submit applications and receive funding for their activities in order to implement changes in the following areas: citizen participation in civic activities, civil society watchdog/advocacy of the public authorities role, support for human rights, empowerment of vulnerable groups, capacity building and sustainability of civil society. Funding of EUR 1 000–150 000 (depending on the scope or duration of the project) will be granted to the projects implemented in these areas.
The applications for the projects focusing on the inclusion of geographically remote regions and under-served target groups and the projects focusing inter-cultural dialogue with particular regard to the participation of national minorities’ NGOs are also particularly welcome. The initiatives enabling youth participation, e. g. projects involving young people as a target group or partnerships involving youth NGOs are always of great importance. Also, the applications by NGOs working with gender-based violence victims are welcome.
A separate finance portfolio will be allocated to the ad hoc projects (projects dedicated to actual national and societal issues) and to the bilateral cooperation projects between Lithuania and the partners from the donor countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway).
According to Giedrė Tumosaitė, the Programme Director of Open Lithuania Foundation, the Active Citizens Fund will be a program created by non-governmental organizations by putting into use their ideas, projects, and initiatives. ‘After operating for five years, we would like to see a greater citizen involvement in civic activities, a stronger voice of non-governmental organizations in decision-making with regards to the issues important to the society, increased support to and respect of human rights. We would like to see non-governmental organizations growing stronger and vulnerable groups being less vulnerable in the regions. It all depends on our will and persistence’.
What if civil society didn’t exist?
On the launch-day of the Active Citizens Fund, the representatives of 28 non-governmental organizations from all over Lithuania and of 10 organizations from Iceland and Norway gathered in Vilnius Tech Park. Following the morning discussions on the challenges the civil societies are facing in their home countries, stigmas of the social and civil fields, good practices of dealing with these issues and potential project ideas for the bilateral cooperation, the participants of this international meeting joined other guests of the Launch event in the afternoon.
In his welcome speech, His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway Karsten Klepsvik, noted that strong, active and capable civil society is a prerequisite for a viable democracy. ‘The NGO-focused programs in Lithuania have produced many important results already,’ the Ambassador said. ‘Through strong support of the human rights ideal, principles of good governance, social and economic inclusion, I believe that these programs have produced a real change in the lives of those it affected. This is a long-term and sustained effort, and the Active Citizens Fund will continue this trend.’
At the launch event, the subject regarding what would happen if the civil society did not exist was addressed, the directions of activities and the expected results for the Active Citizens Fund were presented, and the most influential non-governmental organizations shared their extensive experience.
It is expected that within next five years more than 250 civic society organizations (including 80 small-scale organizations operating at local level) will take part in the activities in Lithuania initiated and funded by the Active Citizens Fund, at least 180 projects that are implemented by these organizations will be funded, and approximately 10 000 people will get involved in their activities.
European Economic Area (EEA) and Norway Grants is a contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to reducing economic and social disparities and to the strengthening of bilateral relations with 15 EU Member States (13 new Member States, Greece and Portugal).
For further information see www.apf.lt