Thanks to the diversified PAFF programmatic offer, many local communities in Poland have carried out projects which have created opportunities for gaining experience and building resources that enable unleashing additional civic energy. The “PAFF Local Partnerships” Program offers participants of these projects the possibility of building joint partnership initiatives using the accumulated potential for work benefiting their local communities. At the same time, this contributes to strengthening local social capital through a synergy of experiences and results of various initiatives. Partnerships primarily composed of participants of several PAFF programs, who constitute an Initiative Group within each coalition, are established. They are joined by local governments, businesses, the local media, and non-governmental organizations and institutions that have not participated in any PAFF programs before. Organizations participating in one of the following PAFF programs can become partnership leaders: “Act Locally”, “English Teaching”, “Equal Opportunities”, “The Learning Schools” (LES), “PAFF Leaders”, the Library Development Program, “Region in Transition” (RITA), and “Third Age Universities” (TAU). Many local residents and volunteers are engaged in the execution of the projects.
In the seven editions held to date since 2009, 50 PAFF Local Partnerships and 11 partner start-ups have been formed, reaching 107 communes and engaging 900 partners.
Thanks to the partner projects it was possible to amend existing legal regulations and reduce air pollution in Żywiec, open a local online citizen television in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, develop a public park in Biłgoraj, and open a county volunteer center in Dębica. The projects also resulted in the promotion of local products – a “Route of the Carp” was created in the Barycz River Valley, and an “Apple Route” was outlined near Warka. The program led to the establishment of the Network of Youth-Friendly Places in the Podkarpacie region, and the formation of the “Volcano” Activity Center in Złotoryja. These projects focus on actions engaging young people. Niemce witnessed the creation of a Youth Forest Guard which now protects the purity and beauty of the Kozłowiecki Forest and promotes pro-ecological attitudes. Under the 6th edition of the program, completed in December 2019, the engagement of partners and local residents resulted in restoring Poland’s first, though shut-down at the time, locomotive factory Fablok SA as the showpiece of Chrzanów. In Krotoszyn, a neglected park situated next to the public library is now teeming with life. Three grants for smaller start-up projects were also awarded in this edition. As a result, a local TV station was established in Międzyrzecze, whilst Niepołomice inhabitants integrated to act for reinvigorating the Niepołomice Forest they had before been neglecting.
In the 7th edition, launched in January 2020, five partnerships and four start-ups were formed. Additionally, as a pilot program, four start-up grants were awarded for actions aiming to expand the local offer of informal education, create thematic villages, maintain natural heritage, as well as build inter-generational relations and multiculturalism in the region. All of them also intend to counteract the negative effects of the pandemic.
Additional financial support offered by PAFF enables local partnerships to continue already launched actions and motivates them to prepare strategies to sustain results of the implemented activities. The program promotes the local community activation method developed together with the Shipyard Foundation. It was presented in the publication titled “How to Build the Common Good? A Handbook for Local Activists” (“Jak budować dobro wspólne? poradnik dla działających lokalnie”. The subsequent 2015 publication “How to Build Partnerships Locally?” (“Jak lokalnie budować partnerstwa?”) includes articles by experts on issues crucial in creating coalitions and ensuring their durability, illustrated with examples from implemented projects. Regular regional meetings, seminars, and the program e-bulletin co-created by partnership members help enhance the sustainability of the partnerships and enable experience sharing. During the pandemic, the majority of such actions was carried out online.
Another Program component – the Common Good Lab – is addressed to program alumni. The objective of this initiative 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 initiative offers expert support and access to a database of materials, as well as regular alumni gatherings, training sessions, and webinars. The most active participants form the Civic Activists’ Community, which works to improve the animation method and to develop tools to mobilize local communities. They also support creating new partnerships in locations that have not yet been covered by the program.
The Foundation has disbursed $2,963,179, including $341,325 for the current edition of the program.