The objective of this program, implemented by the School for Leaders Foundation, is to support the development of skills and qualifications of individuals working for the benefit of their local communities. This is achieved mainly through the tutorial method consisting of regular cooperation between an experienced tutor and a local leader.
The program is addressed to active participants of projects funded from various programs carried out by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation: “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 is the offer addressed to the graduates – the “Alumni” initiative – which provides an opportunity for cooperation and experience exchange. It enables the participants to meet with well-known public figures, take part in workshops that respond to 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 the alumni ran; 83 were elected mayors or members of a commune, municipality, or town council.
Since 2008 the PAFF Leaders study tours to the United States have been organized in cooperation with the US Embassy in Poland. Each year a group of about a dozen PAFF leaders and tutors participate in the tours.
Last year more than a hundred alumni actively engaged in aiding Ukrainian refugees. In the very first months following the Russian aggression against Ukraine, 40 PAFF Leaders visited the Polish-Ukrainian border to work with organizations coordinating support for Ukrainians fleeing from the war to neighboring Poland. What is more, three NGOs where PAFF leaders are active received a grant of PLN 20,000 in total for actions connected with coordinating the relocation of refugees in Poland and organizing the work of volunteers receiving refugees from Ukraine.
The program’s eighteen editions held to date have resulted in raising the qualifications of more than 840 local leaders from across Poland as well as creating their active nation-wide network, and educating 68 experts in employing the tutoring method.
The Foundation has disbursed $6,392,419, including $319,078 for the current edition.