Support for Building Active Civic Communities through the Chitalishtes in Bulgaria
In July 2008 AGORA Platform was approved and received a General Purposes Grant from the Charles Steward Mott Foundation. The funding is for a period of two years and a half and will end in December 2010.
As a result of this grant AGORA's organizational capacity will be build and strengthened for promotion and encouragement of community participation and development through the Chitalishtes.
The AGORA Platform will work for strengthening the community development and participation in local development through its member organizations and the Chitalishtes involved with them. All AGORA Platform member organizations will acquire a common understanding about the role of the Chitalishte in sustainable local development as well as the methods and participatory approaches to be applied in their work.
The activities related with building the AGORA Chitalishtes' capacity for community development include:
- Assessment of the AGORA Chitalishtes' needs in community development through questionnaires, feedback information, surveys, etc.;
- Training and workshops on community development, participation, fundraising, etc.;
- Development of package of services to be provided to the AGORA Chitalishtes based on the findings of the survey and the Chitalishtes' demands;
- Ensuring access to the data base of good practices in community development;
- Provision of 3 ICT training modules to AGORA Chitalishtes;
- Provision of 3 training modules on community development, participation, charity and fundraising for the AGORA Chitalishtes;
- Provision of 3 training modules on moderation/negotiations, PR and communication for the AGORA Chitalishte Board members.
The activities related with building up active communities for local development envisage actions in the following directions:
First, in order to build up the Chitalishte as a Community Development Centre and to encourage and mobilize the communities' participation in local development, support for small-scale demonstration initiatives is planned. The specific activities include:
- development by the AGORA Chitalishtes of local demonstration development initiatives;
- support in the implementation of the initiatives (the number of the initiatives depends on the funds available)
- fundraising for the program activities: donors, businesses and individuals.
The next direction is to support the development and organization of Chitalishte Community Forum "AGORA".
The aim is through public forums, discussions, and advocacy campaigns to build the capacity of the communities to create partnerships, to encourage local philanthropy and to mobilize local resources and to plan.
Closely, related to the previous directions is the AGORA School Program. The School Program is aimed at building the capacity of the AGORA Chitalishtes in community development and participation. The developed knowledge and acquired skills will help the Chitalishes to use civic and community development approaches. What is important to be noted is the involvement of the whole Chitalishte - Board members, staff, members of the Chitalishtes, as well as the community stakeholders. The skills acquired will enable the Chitalishtes to improve the sustainability of their community development functions, to learn from their experience or from the experience of the other Chitalishtes, and to learn from the communities themselves.