The program is addressed to active participants of projects funded from various programs carried out by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation, in particular by “Act Locally”, “Equal Opportunities”, “English Teaching”, “Region in Transition” (RITA), “PAFF Local Partnerships”, and the Library Development Program.
The main part of the program is the 12-month leader-tutor cooperation and the training cycle adjusted to user needs and priorities, consisting of planning their own development, team building, organization management, communication, engaging the community, and building a local partnership. Skills acquired during the program help leaders act for the benefit of local communities.
An important part of the program, the offer addressed to the graduates – the “Alumni” initiative – provides an opportunity for cooperation and experience exchange. It enables the participants to meet with well-known public figures, take part in workshops that meet their needs, and access funds from graduate initiatives to carry out leader projects. Thanks to the e-newsletter subscription, the alumni regularly receive news about current program actions. The experience exchange between leaders is also possible during annual meetings and through the social media. A special group of program participants and alumni are those who are active in local governments. In the local government elections of the autumn of 2018, 184 of them ran; 83 were elected mayor or member of a commune, municipality, or town council.
Since 2008, study visits to the USA for PAFF leaders have been organized as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program implemented with the U.S. Embassy in Poland. Each year, a group of 10 leaders and tutors takes part in the program. The visit planned for 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Pandemic restrictions forced most of last year’s program meetings to be held online. PAFF Leaders participated in about a dozen meetings where public figures discussed such issues as carrying out civic actions during the pandemic and in times of social isolation. These meetings were attended by 350 people.
The program’s fifteen editions held to date have resulted in raising the qualifications of more than 700 local leaders from across Poland and creating their active nation-wide network, as well as educating 67 experts in employing the tutoring method. This sixteenth edition of the program, which ends in June 2021, is attended by 46 leaders and 14 tutors.
The Foundation has disbursed $5,778,175, including $707,767 for the current edition of the program.