As part of the program non-governmental organizations, cultural centers, libraries, and informal groups apply for grants for projects that stimulate the aspirations of children and young people, are conducive to the fulfilment of the realistic goals they set on their own, help cope with emotions, develop active attitudes and openness, and encourage acting for the benefit of their own communities. The projects give young people the opportunity to participate in classes extending beyond the standard educational offer of their schools.
In 2022, the “Big Grants” and “Small Grants” competitions channeled funding to 88 projects in total. These included initiatives to promote pro-ecological activities, reclaiming public space by the young (e.g. by painting murals, or taking care of urban green spaces), broadening the scope of educational and cultural activities for youth, e.g., by organizing outdoor urban games or staging theatrical productions.
The program also offers training for project coordinators to increase their qualifications, teach project management with a focus on engaging youth as active creators, participants, and direct implementers of a given undertaking.
The program offer is complete with the Summer School for Young Leaders, whose every edition attracts more than 20 participants of “Equal Opportunities” projects. At the Summer School, young people spend a week of their holidays at workshops where they find out how to plan and implement social actions more effectively, and learn more about civic education.
In 2021 “Equal Opportunities” gained a new initiative: the “Ready for the Future” campaign, which seeks to create a space where young people and adults can engage in cooperation and exchanging experience and knowledge about the daunting challenges facing youth today. This campaign focuses, among others, on the mental health of young people, as well as the competencies indispensable to successfully navigating the contemporary labor market. The campaign had a follow-up in 2022, and the Onet.pl portal took on the role of its media partner.
In the twenty-two years of the program, more than 3,500 projects with 151,000 participants were carried out (indirectly: nearly 495,000 people were involved). The program also contributed to the activation and integration of local communities to act for the benefit of children and youth.
The program allows the Foundation to support the Young Explorer Clubs initiative, which is a continuation of a model project initiated as part of the program in 2002 by the Education Society of Kłodzko, now carried out by the Copernicus Science Center. The purpose of the Young Explorer Clubs is to attract children and young people to the sciences. The YEC formula helps young people learn through experimentation using simple, easily available materials.
Last year saw the eleventh international Young Explorer Clubs Forum held at the Copernicus Science Center. The event gathered over 240 people from Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Poland. The Forum is a contact and experience-sharing platform which promotes the Clubs. Nearly 920 units belong to the YEC network; over 180 operate in Georgia.
The Polish Children and Youth Foundation was Program Manager from 2001 to 2020.
The Foundation has disbursed $18,366,537, including $947,478 for the current edition.