In 2017 the Open Society Institute – Sofia (OSI – Sofia), in consortium with the Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation (WCF) and the Trust for Social Achievement Foundation (TSA) was selected by the Financial Mechanism Office in Brussels for Fund Operator of the Active Citizens Fund in Bulgaria within the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2014-2012. The objective of the Active Citizens Fund is: “Civil society and active citizenship strengthened and vulnerable groups empowered”.
The Active Citizens Fund in Bulgaria amounts to EUR 15 500 000, provided entirely by the donor countries – Island, Lichtenstein and Norway. The Programme shall operate until 2024 and shall contribute to the achievement of the common goals of the EEA FM and the Norwegian FM to reduce the economic and social differences and strengthen the bilateral relations between the beneficiary countries and the donor countries. The fund will support the long-term sustainability and the capacity of the civil society sector, as well as its role in encouraging democratic participation, active citizenship and human rights.
Within calls for proposals, initiatives of civil society organizations will be supported contributing to:
- Strengthened democratic culture and civic awareness;
- Increased support to human rights;
- Empowerment of vulnerable groups;
- Addressing gender equality and gender-based violence;
- Increasing civic engagement in environment protection/regarding climate change;
- Enhancing the capacity and sustainability of the civil society sector, including of civil society organizations.
The mechanisms for support include:
- Two calls for strategic projects with project duration of up to 36 months;
- Ongoing scheme for small initiatives with project duration of up to one year;
- Bilateral fund envisaging: 1) support measures for developing and carrying out partnership projects and initiatives with organizations of the donor countries; and 2) thematic workshops for establishing contacts and exchanging experience with organizations of the donor countries.
- Regional thematic forums;
- Measures building the capacity of civil society organizations to develop project proposals and carry out projects in the priority areas of the Fund;
- Minimum 10% of the funds will be used for Roma inclusion and empowerment, including by providing scholarships to Roma students enrolled in medical studies within the Roma Scholarship Programme;
- Mentorship support for the next generation of Roma health professionals
- Project Generation Facility – providing free consultations on developing project proposals (outside the Active Citizens Fund) contributing to the integration of vulnerable groups;
- Initiative for building the next generation of civic leaders.