At every single stage of its activity, the Foundation takes various options into consideration when it comes to responding to the emerging needs and problems covered by its program mandate and the financial frameworks.
For example, the Foundation launched one of the first non-commercial educational portals, which aimed to publicly provide fast and low-cost access to educational resources and services for schools, teachers, students and parents. Among the undertakings made in direct response to requests, an initiative related to reforming medical care was kicked off. As part of it, managers in health care were trained in effectively overseeing medical centers. There were also two programs devoted to tackling unemployment mainly addressed to job-seeking youths and vocational groups threatened with structural unemployment. When Poland was struck by two devastating floods (in 2001 and 2010), the Foundation mobilized additional funds to support schools, libraries and local organizations, mainly in rural areas, which suffered the greatest damage.
Joining the European Union opened new prospects for Poland. The Foundation launched the "EURO-NGO" Program in 2013, under which a network of 200 experts was created. The goal of the program was to prepare NGOs to acquire EU funds.
The Foundation placed particular emphasis on the possibility of transferring the previously gained experiences to new activities by making use of its network of contacts and know-how. The Library Development Program serves as an example of that. Its launch was preceded by experiences gained in the “Village in Transition: Building Information Society – e-VITA” Program. Under this program, the "e-VITA Method" was developed as a compound know-how offer of designing and implementing initiatives devoted to the computerization of communes with the active participation of residents. In the completed programmatic field "Citizen in a Democratic State of Law," the Foundation assisted in the development of free legal advocacy for a decade. Among other reasons, the program was launched as a response to the reforms introduced in the sphere of justice administration. The resources and achievements of this program are currently promoted on the website www.obywateliprawo.pl. "Transparent Community" and "Transparent Poland" were the result of great social interest in governmental transparency, especially at the local level. The guidelines for "Transparent Poland" were further promoted in other countries, just as the experiences of numerous other Polish NGOs were transmitted abroad through the "RITA" Program in the past.
THE POLISH EDUCATIONAL PORTAL “INTERKLASA”
The purpose of the program, carried out between 2000 and 2011, was to create and manage an Internet platform affording access to educational resources, content and services, thereby contributing to the modernization of education and equalizing opportunities for schoolchildren from various environments. As one of the first professional, non-commercial educational portals in Poland, www.interklasa.pl was addressed to learners, teachers and parents. It was a joint undertaking between the Polish-American Freedom Foundation and the Interkl@sa Initiative. The modern technological infrastructure was provided by the Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Center (Poznańskie Centrum Superkomputerowo-Sieciowe). The Portal’s editorial staff organized educational competitions such as the “Contest for the School Website” and the “Interkl@sa Quality Trademark Competition”. It also offered various services such as the “Multimedia Library”, including a wide scope of educational aids, the “Virtual Class” supporting long-distance learning and teaching, and the “Interactive Schools’ Map”, providing information on each of the 30,000 registered educational institutions. The Portal was honored twice by the “Komputer Świat” magazine as the best and most interesting educational website. In 2007, it won the “Webstarfestival” contest promoting the best internet projects in the “Education” category.
The Economic Education Foundation (2000-2008)
Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Center (2008-2010)
The "Polish Educational Portal Interklasa" Foundation (2010-2011)
THE COMPUTER FOR A TEACHER
The program, implemented between 2000-2005, was addressed mainly to teachers in junior-high schools in small towns and rural areas. It was intended to enable the purchase of a personal computer by means of a preferential instalment payment system. The Foundation paid the interest and covered the costs of the commission. Over 3,000 teachers from all over Poland took advantage of the offer. “Computer for a Teacher” was the first PAFF undertaking whose execution and outcome were made subject to external evaluation. The results of the survey conducted by the “Pentor” Institute confirmed that the purchase of computers had helped teachers to prepare better lessons and encouraged them to make broad use of educational resources available on the Internet, with special regard to the Interkl@sa Portal.
The National Foundation for Computer Literacy (2000-2005)
COMPUTER LONG DISTANCE TRAINING
Using the experience gained in the “Computer for a Teacher” Program, the Foundation launched free distance computer training via the Internet. The project, which was implemented between 2002 and 2004, enabled teachers to participate in training sessions on the subject of free Internet use. Participants in the training learned how to use Internet resources, create websites, prepare multimedia presentations, and build tools for testing their pupils’ knowledge. The program consisted of two modules: distance training via a dedicated Internet service and daily workshops. Nearly 1200 people completed the training and received certificates recognized by the Ministry of National Education and Sports.
The National Foundation for Computer Literacy (2002-2004)
TRAINING FOR HEALTH CARE MANAGERS
The program, implemented in 2000-2006, was designed to raise the level of knowledge in the field of modern management of medical institutions. Within the undertaking, 22 training institutions received funding and over 400 post-graduate study scholarships were awarded to health care managers, coming mainly from small towns. The offer also included conferences with the participation of foreign experts, who shared their experiences in managing modern health care systems with Polish doctors. The program resulted in designing and implementing a system of social accreditation of post-graduate study programs in managing health care services.
The Society for Health Care Managers (2000-2006)
This program, carried out between 2005-2010, aimed at fostering equal educational opportunities for children from rural areas and small towns by creating the best possible developmental environment and improving the quality of elementary education. The program’s guidelines were set out in the document called “A Strategy for Elementary Education Development”. In the program’s pilot edition, selected elements of this strategy were implemented in seven rural communes with the assistance of experts and partnerships (NGOs and local authorities). The experience gained during the program’s first year was used as the basis for a “Report on the Situation of Small Children in Poland,” one of the first studies of this kind in the country. Additionally, a database of NGOs supporting elementary education was created, which is available at the website: www.dladzieci.org.pl. In the program’s second edition, 24 NGOs took part in training sessions devoted to modern methods of working with small children. And, 17 non-governmental organizations were awarded grants for projects to introduce elements of the "Strategy". In 2007 a Partnership for the Education of Small Children was established, affiliating nearly 50 non-governmental organizations. The program’s third edition was aimed at popularizing the resources of the program.
The Comenius Foundation for Child Development (2005-2010)
The objective of the program, in operation between 2004 and 2010, was to support initiatives aimed at stimulating and fostering entrepreneurial spirit among junior-high and high school students, especially in villages and small towns. The program’s main component was called “Junior-high Enterprise.” That initiative was jointly implemented with the Junior Achievement Foundation which supports teachers who help shape creative, entrepreneurial attitudes among their pupils as well as teaching effective teamwork. To meet the needs of the program, an online system distributing educational materials was created and made accessible at: www.junior.org.pl. It was used by more than 3,200 teachers and nearly 1,300 schools. The program offer also included the National Competition for the Best Student Initiative “IDEA” and support for the National Entrepreneurship Olympics, organized by the Foundation for the Promotion and Accreditation of Economic Education. Every year a few thousand high school students from all over Poland take part in the Olympics. PAFF still provides its patronage for the Olympics.
The Junior Achievement Foundation (2004-2010)
VILLAGE IN TRANSITION: BUILDING INFORMATION SOCIETY (e-VITA)
The program, carried out between 2004-2011 stemmed from the experiences of the “Village in Transition” (VITA) Program and aimed at promoting the practical application of modern information and communication technologies (ICT) in the social and economic development of rural areas, as well as preparation of local communities and local governments to acquire EU funds. In the first years of the program implementation the model solution – e-VITA method - was developed and in subsequent years financial and expert support was provided for communities that started to build their technical infrastructure, including public Internet hotspot sites and Internet networks. Thanks to the operation of 13 partnerships, 11non-commerical community computer networks were set up, as a result of which residents of 60 villages acquired Internet access. Additionally, 1360 residents enhanced their computer and Internet literacy, and 500 people took part in Internet training for project creation. Educational activities were also performed as part of the program. They were mainly addressed to entrepreneurs, NGOs and youth. Model solutions within this program (the e-VITA Method) were presented in publications, during seminars and on the “Witryna Wiejska” website.
The Rural Development Foundation (2004-2011)
The program, launched in 2003, was to help NGOs use funds offered by the European Union. As part of the program a public information system to counsel on principles and mechanisms of the EU funds was created. The system was addressed mostly to civic initiatives and non-governmental organizations’ leaders from small towns and rural areas. In the years 2004-2006, thanks to the counseling provided by 120 “EURO-NGO” Experts, Polish non-governmental organizations managed to acquire over $48 million from EU funds for the implementation of 373 individual and 21 partnership projects. The program is continued within the “EURO-NGO+” path as part of the “Support for NGOs” Program.
The Network of Support for NGOs “SPLOT” (2003-2006)
The Association of Forum for Non-governmental Initiatives (2006-2007)
This program, implemented in the years 2001-2006, was intended to encourage local initiatives for combating unemployment and its effects. All told, it reached 1,165 persons, who benefited from psychological counseling and legal advice as well as vocational and in-service courses. They also took advantage of the employment agency service supported by a specially organized databank with 3,000 job offers. Almost half of those taking part in the program found new jobs shortly thereafter or created new ones through self-employment. Next, the activities focused on spreading information about the outplacement method having been adapted to the needs and capabilities of NGOs and local social partners. In the years 2004-2006 almost 300 labor market experts completed the „Outplacement Academy” training. The creation of the labor market institutions portal www.bezrobocie.org.pl is another result of the program.
The Enterprise Development Foundation in Suwałki (2001–2003)
The Foundation for Social and Economic Initiatives (2004-2006)
WORK IN POLAND
The purpose of this undertaking, based on the experiences of the “Undoing Unemployment” Program was to bolster the competence and efficiency of non-governmental organizations in the realm of services for the labor market. The program comprised research and analyses, educational-informational activities targeting NGOs and their local government partners involved with the unemployed as well as grants for local efforts implemented with the use of ICT. The program also entailed training for non-governmental organizations through the “distance learning” method.
The Foundation for Social and Economic Initiatives (2007-2010)
CITIZEN AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
The program, implemented in the years 2002–2004, was intended to improve relations between local governments and local communities through establishing clear and consistent mechanisms of cooperation between local authorities and citizens as well as organizations representing them. The program resulted in the creation of “Cooperation Charters” developed jointly by representatives of local governments and the third sector. Experiences of the program constituted the basis for launching the “Transparent Community” campaign.
The Foundation in Support of Local Democracy (2002-2004)
VILLAGE IN TRANSITION "VITA"
The program, carried out between 2000 and 2003, aimed to stimulate grassroots civil initiatives among rural communities with low levels of activity and also to initiate a regular exchange of information and experiences between non-governmental organizations and local leaders working for the benefit of villages. The program was implemented in three stages: informational – covering over 1,500 persons from 72 communes; training – with approximately 3,000 persons participating in 120 workshops; and executive – consisting of the implementation of 77 local projects, many of which were continued even after PAFF ceased financing them.
The Rural Development Foundation (2001-2003)
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT FOR NGOS (FIMANGO)
The program, carried out between 2000 and 2006 aimed at improving the quality of financial management in non-profit organizations. This was achieved mainly through free-of-charge training courses in which more than 1,300 accountants and people responsible for NGO finances participated. Since 2007, these training courses have been carried out within the framework of the PAFF “Support for NGOs” Program.
The Civic Society Development Foundation (2000-2006)
THE 2001 FLOOD
The initiative was launched in 2001 in cooperation with the „Rzeczpospolita” daily. PAFF awarded 17 grants to support the schools most touched by the flood, located mainly in rural areas. Almost 200 small businesses obtained preferential loans to repair damages caused by the flood, provided by the Micro Fund and subsidized by the Foundation. Thanks to the co-operation with the “Klon/Jawor Association”, a special website called “The Flood” was established.
The KLON/JAWOR Association in cooperation with “Rzeczpospolita” daily (2001)
THE “FLOOD. RELIEF!” PROGRAM
The initiative, launched in May 2010 was a joint undertaking of PAFF, the Center for Citizenship Education Foundation and the Information Society Development Foundation, all under the auspices of the “Gazeta Wyborcza” daily. The goal of the initiative was to help flooded schools and public libraries located in small towns and rural areas, where the flood had struck. At the same time, PAFF, together with the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland, launched a campaign to help all the local civic organizations participating in the “Act Locally” Program that were located in the flooded areas. 72 schools and public libraries as well as 70 local civic organizations received financial support. Voluntary Fire Brigades were also provided with aid.
In cooperation with: the Center for Citizenship Education Foundation, the Information Society Development Foundation and the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland (2010)
CITIZEN AND LAW
Implemented between 2002-2014, the program was to support the development of various forms of civil and legal counseling. It did so by providing support to non-governmental organizations which dispense free, expert legal information and advice and encouraging citizens to exercise their rights in the public sphere. Thanks to the development of the free legal counseling the program provided assistance mainly to individuals in difficult financial straits or life situations. It also fostered public debate on reforming the system of access to legal assistance. Cyclically, a grant competition was organized for non-governmental organizations providing legal and civic consultancy, in which 190 projects were funded. This made it possible to provide over 160,000 legal and civic consultations. The activities within the program were overseen by a Council of Experts comprised of authorities from the legal community. The work of the Council led to the creation of the www.mediacjajestemza.pl website, promoting civil mediation and the Pro Bono Center, thanks to which NGOs may obtain free legal assistance from well-known law offices. Also, the “Active Citizen” Forum was created, which dealt with obstacles limiting voter turnout and developed recommendations on how to improve citizens’ involvement. The Platform of Consultancy Organizations is still in operation and training for organizations providing advice is offered. The www.obywateliprawo.pl portal was created to bring together the resources gathered as part of the supported projects and activities of the Council of Experts and the “Active Citizen” Forum. Selected activities to popularize results of the undertaking will be continued within the “Support for NGOs” Program.
The Institute of Public Affairs (2002-2014)
The aim of the „Transparent Poland” campaign, implemented in 2005–2008, with joint participation of local governments and communities, was to introduce and consolidate six principles of good governance: transparency, zero tolerance for corruption, civic participation, predictability, accountability and professionalism. The campaign was the product of a partnership between the PAFF, the Foundation in Support of Local Democracy, the Stefan Batory Foundation, the ”Gazeta Wyborcza” daily newspaper, the Agora Foundation, the Center for Citizenship Education Foundation and the World Bank. It stemmed from the experiences of the “Citizen and the Local Government” and the pilot “Transparent Community” Programs. The campaign was joined by 800 local governments from all over Poland. 426 of them received certificates confirming completion of the program. Local governments participating in the campaign could take advantage of experts’ support – in total more than 3,000 local officials were trained under the campaign. The experiences of the program were presented to interested countries, including Ukraine, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania, Kazakhstan and the Balkan countries.
The Foundation in Support of Local Democracy (2005-2008)
The “Transparent Community” Program being a pilot for the “Transparent Poland” initiative, was carried out in 2004 with the participation of selected local governments. Its goal was to improve the quality and promote appropriate standards of public life in small towns. The pilot program prepared 16 local governments to become consultants for the “Transparent Poland” mass campaign. 800 local governments from all over Poland applied, ready to implement a set of tasks developed under the “Transparent Community” action.
The Foundation in Support of Local Democracy (2003-2005)
SUPPORTING LEGAL REFORMS: COMPUTER TRAINING
In 2001 the Foundation launched a program which aimed to support activities undertaken by judicial institutions to take advantage of modern computer technology in self-education and access to information. Within the program, almost 6,000 judges and judicial administration staff took part in training sessions. Centers for computer education were either created or supported in Białystok, Wrocław, Szczecin, Kraków, Gdańsk and Warsaw, also serving smaller centers. In total 380 computer training sessions were carried out. In 2006, after the completion of financing from PAFF, training sessions in those centers were continued from the courts’ own resources as well as those of the Ministry of Justice.
The “Iustitia” Judges Training Center Foundation (2001-2005)
Take advantage of the Internet application allowing to visualize activities undertaken within some of PAFF programs on the map of Poland.