In two decades of the program, 3,500 projects with 150,000 participants were carried out (indirectly: nearly 480,000 people were involved), as well as the activation and integration of local communities to act for the benefit of children and youth.
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, develop active attitudes and openness, and encourage acting for the benefit of their own communities. The projects enable young people to participate in classes extending beyond the standard educational offer of their schools.
In 2021, 101 projects were financed. 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 actors in a given undertaking. The coordinators are also offered training in using modern technologies in educational project management and promotion. The “Equal Opportunities” Local Forums, scheduled regularly by participating organizations, constitute an important part of the program. The Forums offer a space for institutions and individuals concerned with various youth-engaging activities in their local environments to discuss how to use the potential of such environments to break barriers that impede development opportunities for young people from small towns and villages.
The coronavirus pandemic significantly limited ways to celebrate the 20th jubilee of the program in 2021. One part of the jubilee was the special grant competition which enabled 13 local non-governmental organizations to arrange program-promoting events in their communities.
These included meetings with participants and coordinators, exhibitions of pictures and posters created during the projects, and local field games to explore places related to the projects carried out under the “Equal Opportunities” program. The results of the 20 years of program activity were also broadly presented during social media campaigns.
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 the international Young Explorer Clubs Forum was held for the ninth time, this time online owing to the pandemic. The event gathered over 1,700 people from Armenia, Georgia, Germany, and Poland. The Forum is a platform of contact and experience sharing and also serves to promote the Clubs. Nearly 800 units belong to the YEC network; over 180 operate in Georgia.
Between 2001 and 2020, the program was managed by the Polish Children and Youth Foundation.
The Foundation has disbursed $17,423,247 in grants, including $536,556 for the current edition of the program.