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 unleash 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. 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 previously. 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 8 editions held since 2009, 58 PAFF Local Partnerships and 17 partner start-ups have been formed, reaching 121 communes and engaging 1,200 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, e.g., 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. The village of 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. 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.
The seventh edition of the program, that ended in December 2021, led to the formation of five partnerships and four start-ups. At the pilot stage four start-up grants were awarded to bottom-up partnerships implementing smaller-scale projects. A “Sharing Cooperative (Współdzielnia)” was established in Płużnica to create a friendly and modern educational space for local residents, a Center for Local Integration was set up in Orneta, and a center for youth volunteers emerged in Mosina. In Niepołomice the program succeeded in integrating local residents by involving them in caring for the Niepołomice Forest, which they had hardly ever frequented. Gołdap focused on the region’s multicultural mix, while Dragacz and Mosina forged a partnership to protect cultural and natural heritage. Many of these initiatives involved actions to counter the negative effects of the pandemic as well.
The 8th edition of the program was launched in January 2022.
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, which has been showcased in two publications: “How to Build Common Good. A Guide for Local Actors” and “How to Build Local Partnerships.” The scientific publication entitled “The Local Community Animation Method for the Common Good. Theory and Practice” was published in 2021 and presents the conclusions reached by a team of University of Warsaw researchers led by Professor Anna Giza. The monograph confirmed that this method was effective and useful in practice, i.e. that it stimulated local communities, and that its effects responded to local residents’ needs and expectations.
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 $3,422,034 in grants, including $408,310 for the current edition of the program.