Contest Board

12 international experts in the field of third sector, development aid, international cooperation and implementation of NGO’s projects. Members of the Contest Board are here to help you change your ideas into reality.


Representatives of the winning initiatives of the NGO map contest will meet the Board Members at a special meeting in Warsaw in October.

What can you win?



Pawel Baginski

Stefan Batory Foundation, Poland
Improving Urban Landscape by Local Residents

Kabaty – a Warsaw housing estate placed approx. 12 km from the city centre (about 20 minutes via subway) – is the home of officials, businessmen, scientists, etc. – the Polish modern middle class. For a long time, the small overgrown with grass area next to the metro, where rains were making a quagmire of the grounds, strongly contrasted with an elaborate picture of well-designed neighbourhood.

Despite the attractiveness of this land, no one wanted to build anything here due to unresolved legal status of the grounds. Once upon a time, a young resident of the estate, despite potential legal problems, decided to change this area into a nice, decent modern space. He announced on the internet that he intended to create a park. With his own money, he bought dozens of young trees, than gathered other residents – everyone could buy trees and plant them on her or his own in the place indicated by the operator, and in addition the participants of the action could dedicate the planted trees to someone they knew. The initiative met with a very positive response. Within weeks, the site was transformed into a nice park in a concave shape, composed of young trees. Moreover, the residents later helped in establishing new paths and sidewalks.

Rafal Dymek

Polish Robert Schuman Foundation, Poland
Developing Rural Region by Local Community

People from the Krzywa village in Low Beskids – mountain area on the south-eastern Poland have established the Association of Development of Krzywa. The region was very badly treated by history in the XX century – from the intense fighting during World War I, to the displacement of population in the years 1944 - 1947. As a result, many villages disappeared from the map, and only small amount of people live here today. The Association was established for children and young people living in these least populated, mountainous areas of the municipality. Children grow in the poverty from which they cannot find the way out. Despite these obstacles, activists of the Association have succeeded, making a very positive impact on improving the position of the inhabitants.

The school is equipped with a computer lab, where language and IT courses now take place. The Association also hosts artistic and sports activities for children – it has organized photographic workshops and is also developing the area into a tourist-friendly region. For example, the Association made a dozen kilometres of cross-country ski trails. They also take care of the historic cemetery. The majority the Association’s activities is carried out by residents and local community, free of charge.

Norbert Frejek

Angelus Silesius House, Poland
Supporting Migrants

In the spring of 2012, Angelus Silesius House in Wroclaw started a social project for Romani people camped on the outskirts of the city. Until now, nobody has expected that the big group of Romani will arrive in Wroclaw. For the authorities and residents of the city, it was a surprise. As you might guess, many officials and representatives of other state institutions want to deport Romani to the country from which they came.

Our organization, in cooperation with the "Nomad" Association, decided to approach this as a challenge, not as a problem. We decided to help. An investigation has shown that Romani live in outrageous conditions, below acceptable standards, and what’s most important they are left alone: lack of medical care, no legalization of stay, children not going to school, no social support. We started by finding a lawyer to help them to establish rules for their stay in Poland. Then we talked about access to health care or other benefits. We'll see how this project will go further. Our organization has experience working with the Romani from Lower Silesia, so it may be easier for us to take on this challenge.

Jacek Kucharczyk

Institute of Public Affairs, Poland
Urban-Conscious Citizens

The group of young Warsaw citizens called “Social Cooperative - Warsaw" run the “Emma” hostel in the centre of Warsaw. The group has strongly rooted beliefs about the modern world - they focus on ecological issues and responsible use of natural resources, fair trade, aversion to the hierarchy and negative social consequences of market economy. This approach resulted in interests in and views of the cooperative movement, as the idea of economic organization. The initial idea for this activity was profiling the customers of the Emma hostel who are mostly people sensitive to environmental and social issues and NGO workers. A very important aspect of the members of the Cooperative is also their will to strengthen the local community. That way, the Social Cooperative Warsaw started the process of renewal of the old courtyard of the building, where “Emma” is located.

Eduard Mihalas

National Youth Council of Moldova, Moldova
Supporting Youth

In 2011, National Youth Council of Moldova (of which I'm the current President) developed a special project to support youth organizations and youth in the process of monitoring and evaluation of the public local budget reserved for youth dimension. As a result of the project, a report on monitoring a local budget regarding youth in all districts of Moldova was issued for the first time in the country. This report, which can be accessed here, presents the financial efficiency of local youth field, thus providing necessary recommendations for improving financial support for youth area. Following this report, CNTM came with a number of recommendations regarding changes to legislation (such as the Law on Local Public Finance, methodological note on funding for youth) to be discussed with the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in the governmental commission for youth policy, of which CNTM is a member.

Jan Piekło

PAUCI, Poland
Against Stereotypes

Euro-bus 4: “European Youth to Ukrainian Communities” has become an annual project following the celebration of Europe’s days in Ukraine. Project was aimed at solving two basic problems: nations’ stereotypical thinking about Ukrainians and EU citizens and passiveness of Ukrainian rural youth and their low motivation for civil activity.

In May 2011, for the 4th time the Euro-bus tour travelled across Ukraine. A team of 12 young EU representatives and 3 Ukrainians made a two-week trip across the country. Each of 8 towns or villages, located along the Euro-bus route, was celebrating the Europe’s days. Young participants conducted training sessions on Euro integration for high school pupils, spread information about the EU and European youth programs and, finally, helped to launch, with support of local communities, an initiative suggested by youngsters at preparatory trainings (planting trees, painting school walls, cultural flash-mobs).

Krzysztof Stanowski

Solidarity Fund PL, Poland

Iryna Vidanava

Citydog.by, Belarus
Visa Free Europe!

67 percent of Belarusians have never been to an EU state and 51 percent have never met a foreigner. It is clear that the Belarusian regime is not interested in opening up the country, but what about the EU and its focus on people-to-people contacts? This is why the “VISA FREE” Coalition was formed in spring 2011 at the initiative of the Vilnius-based NGO Belarus Watch. Today, the Coalition includes 10 Belarusian and 11 EU-based NGOs, including some based in Poland. The “VISA FREE” campaign has put ordinary people in the center of its attention and activities from the very beginning.

In April 2011, a contest for the best essay on “My Visa Story” was announced in cooperation with Belarus’ largest Internet portal TUT.BY. More than 80 essays were submitted, which were read by over 30,000 people. In order to reach out to as many people as possible, especially those who do not use the Internet, a special issue of the newspaper Nash Dom (Our Home) dedicated to the visa issue was prepared. 140,000 copies of the issue were distributed in Belarus. In May 2011, a “VISA FREE!” photo action was launched. About 400 photos of young people with “anti-visa” posters were taken in different places around Europe. The individual approach and clever presentation made this action quite popular among users of social networks. It became a virtual flash mob and helped to increase public awareness about the campaign among youth. There have been many other “VISA FREE” actions, including street performances, concerts, documentaries, round tables, discussions and petitions, and more are planned.

Gabriela Svarovska

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
Citizens Advice Bureaus in the Czech Republic

Active in about 20 countries of the world, Citizens Advice Bureaus (CABs) represent a creative model for local governments and CSOs together to help people solve their problems. The originally British model was first introduced at the beginning of the WWII to answer sudden drastic changes in lives of a large number of British citizens. In the 1991 this model was successfully adopted in the Czech Republic (as well as other countries of CEE region), undergoing the overall socio-economic transition at that time. Although transition to democracy has changed people’s lives mostly positively, it has brought a variety of new, challenging live situations to many. Workers in CABs are capable of providing specialized consultancy in a wide range of areas – from housing, employment, social benefits, debt problems to consumer protection, and human rights. They help people to understand their rights and duties as well as to defend their interests by providing impartial, advice on a confidential (and even anonymous) basis and free of charge. People can even seek mediation in negotiation, since the bureau can act on their behalf. CAB is a “low threshold” facility. Beneficiaries are mainly but not exclusively members of low-income groups ranging from elderly, lone parents, youth without family, unemployed, members of minorities and socially excluded communities to homeless, immigrants and asylum seekers, victims of domestic violence and other crime, chronically sick and disabled, drug addicted and other vulnerable groups. Every bureau is a local civil society organization. Bureaus together form an open network backed by the Czech Association of Citizens Advice Bureaus (www.obcanskeporadny.cz/). The Association supports the development of the network, the establishment of new bureaus; it organizes training for workers of member bureaus and helps them to apply unified quality management system to their serviced. The system in the Czech Republic relies primarily on volunteers, as in Britain, and grants from central, regional and local authorities as well as international (and European) development funds. With the development of private philanthropy in the Czech Republic, many CABs and their Association function also thanks to private sponsors. Active since 1997, the Czech Association now unites 40 bureaus and another 26 contact points. They together were able to deal with more than 74 thousand requests in 2011. With the knowledge gained through everyday contact with ordinary citizen’s problems, the Association seeks to influence policies and social services provided by central and local authorities as well as to point out gaps in legislation.

Sabina Dvorakova

DEMAS, Czech Republic
Sharing Knowledge, Supporting Civil Society

As involvement of young people in civil society is of utmost importance, DEMAS with its member organizations decided to approach the Charles University in Prague and Masaryk University in Brno offering them a tailored semestral course introducing democracy assistance and human rights support to students. The program consists of twelve topics lectured by various experts from DEMAS member organizations. The first lecturing of the cycles introduces aims and perspectives of the Czech transition cooperation, principles of democracy assistance for third countries and approaches of various stakeholders.

Other lessons are dedicated to particular political and geographical issues such as advocacy activities towards national and EU structures, Eastern Partnership countries, hard case countries (e. g. Cuba, Burma, Belarus or China), the state of the NGO sector in Russia, state of human rights defenders in Belarus, etc. Within such a project, all DEMAS member NGOs with their specific expertise can be joined and can mainly present concrete knowledge based on their field experience to young people and thus promote activities of Czech NGOs working on political transition. After attending the program described above, students have the opportunity to participate as interns in the DEMAS NGOs.

Maria Staszkiewicz

Aspen Institute Prague, Czech Republic
Turning disability into your strength

Who is currently one of the most desired entertainers at festivals, private events or corporate parties in the Czech Republic? It’s not the for-ever-young Karel Gott nor the Silesian bard Nohavica but THE TAP TAP group of musicians with disabilities. The band was founded in 1998 in the Jedlička Institute, a medical and educational organization specialized in the care of disabled children and adults, and now is managed by a civic association o.s. TAP, led by Simon Ornest. Right from its beginning the band has been giving the widest possible range of people with disabilities the opportunity to develop their talent and increase their self-esteem. That is why, most of the band members continuously educate in music theory and practice, attending STUDEO courses also organized by the o.s. TAP. Later on, thanks to charismatic soloists and managers, THE TAP TAP has engaged in awareness raising activities, and so the band became known to broader public. With fundraising events such as the annual “Wheelparty” or the recent educational video clip “Bus manager” the band together with o.s. TAP tries to overcome physical and psychological barriers between the “normal” and the “disabled” parts of society, turning the non-profit project into a venture now able to compete with purely commercial enterprises. A good measure of their success is the high number of popular Czech singers and musicians who featured with THE TAP TAP in their newest CD. Since its establishment, the band still led by its founder Simon Ornest, managed to transform their “being different” into “being desired”.

Elena Prokhorova

EU Neighbourhood Info Centre, Belgium



it is important?



Director of PAUCI

Euro-bus 4: “European Youth to Ukrainian Communities” has become an annual project following the celebration of Europe’s days in Ukraine. Project was aimed at solving two basic problems: stereotypic thinking about Ukrainians and EU citizens among each other and passiveness of Ukrainian rural youth and their low motivation for civil activity. Read more...





Executive Editor Citydog.by

67 percent of Belarusians have never been to an EU state and 51 percent have never met a foreigner. It is clear that the Belarusian regime is not interested in opening up the country, but what about the EU and its focus on people-to-people contacts? Read more...




national youth council of moldova

In 2011, National Youth Council of Moldova (where I'm President now) was developed a project to support youth organizations and youth in the process of monitoring and evaluation of the public local budget reserved for youth dimension. Read more...