Thanks to broad and diversified offer of PAFF programs, many local communities in Poland have carried out projects which create opportunities to unleash new civic energy. The PAFF Local Partnerships Program offers to beneficiaries of such projects an opportunity to create joint partnership initiatives using the built potential for work benefiting their local communities. At the same time, it contributes to strengthening social capital through synergy of experience and results achieved as part of various initiatives. Partnerships composed of participants of several PAFF programs who set up an Initiative Group, the core of coalition, are established. They are joined by local governments, businesses, local media, NGOs and institutions that have not participated in PAFF programs before. The partnership leader can be and organization that has participated in one of the following programs – “Act Locally”, “English Teaching”, “Equal Opportunities”, The “Learning Schools”, “PAFF Leaders”, Library Development Program, “Region in Transition” (RITA) and “Seniors in Action”. Numerous local residents and volunteers are engaged in the implementation of the projects.
So far, in 6 rounds of the program carried out from 2009 to 2020, 45 partnerships have been established; they cover 97 rural communes/municipalities and their operations involve 780 partners. Among other things, partnership projects resulted in the change of regulations which allowed reducing air pollution in Żywiec, setting up an Internet civic TV in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, creating a public park in Biłgoraj, and establishing a district volunteering center in Dębica. The results of the projects include also promotion of local initiatives, such as the Carp Trail in the Barycza River Valley, or the Apple Trail near Warka. Established were the Network of Youth-friendly Places in Podkarpacie Region, and the Volcano Activity Center in Złotoryja where priority is given to actions involving young people, as well as the Youth Forest Guard in Niemce which cares for the cleanliness and beauty of the Kozłowieckie Forest and popularizes pro-ecological attitudes. Under the 6th round of the Program, completed in December 2019, the partners and residents of Chrzanów changed the already closed Fablok SA – the first Polish factory of locomotives – into a pride of the town, while in Krotoszyn a neglected square in front of the public library was turned into a lively meeting place. Also under the same round – for the first time in the Program history – three grants were awarded for small start-up projects. They resulted in establishing a local TV in Międzyrzecz, while in Niepołomice residents began activities aimed at popularization of Niepołomicka Forest.
Additional financial support granted by PAFF enables local partnerships to continue their operations and motivates them to develop strategies of embedding the results of implemented projects. The program popularizes the method of local communities animating, developed in cooperation with experts from the Unit for Social Innovation and Research “Shipyard” Foundation. The method was presented in the “How to Build The Common Good? A Guide For Those Who Act Locally” publication. The next publication, of 2015, entitled “How to Build Local Partnerships”, presented expert materials dealing with problems important to building coalitions and working on their sustainability and examples of realized projects. Regular regional meetings, seminars, and the program e-bulletin co-created by members of the partnerships help to enhance the sustainability of the partnerships and allows for experience sharing.
Another Program component – Common Good Lab initiative – is addressed to the program alumni. The objective of the Lab is to popularize cooperation of local communities working for the common good, promoting methods of local communities animation and enhancing the sustainability of existing partnerships. The program offers support by experts, access to a material base and regular alumni meetings, training sessions and webinars. Most active participants are included in the Animators Community and work not only on improving the animation method and developing local community activation tools but also support establishing new partnerships in places that haven’t been included in the program.
The Foundation has disbursed $2,621,855, including $446,281 for the current edition of the program.