The present situation influences strongly PAFF activities, the same way as it influences all other NGOs in Poland. The Foundation staff keeps in contact with its partners – Managers of PAFF Programs, monitors the situation and, where feasible, takes all necessary steps to solve new problems faced by both Managers and participants of the Foundation programs.
In March we launched The 2020 Relief Fund for NGOs and Civic Initiatives. Thanks to that initiative, whose initial budget was PLN 200,000, each Manager of a PAFF program received PLN 10,000 for its current expenses related to protection of its staff and partners, as well as making their work easier in the present emergency conditions. Soon that initiative will be transformed into a wider program addressed first of all to organizations, institutions, and civic groups that are participating in PAFF programs. We will use our experience gained in other PAFF relief programs, such as those aimed at counteracting flood effects which we ran in 2001 and 2010.
Furthermore, in consultation with the program Managers we have decided to introduce some changes in the Foundation program activity.
As regards our initiatives in education:
In response to the present situation in education, the “Learning Schools” Program managed by the Center for Citizenship Education Foundation has held a series of open webinars on online education that were attended by over 60,000 participants – teachers and school directors. We are planning further such activities in April. Jędrzej Witkowski, the CCE President, was invited to TOK FM radio broadcast on distance learning.
The PAFF and UW School of Education has totally switched to teaching its students in online mode, and at the same time offered a series of training webinars on Mathematics, Polish studies, Biology and Life Sciences, and History and Social Sciences to teachers. The subjects of these webinars reflect the needs of the present situation in education. More than 4,000 teachers participated in the first of these webinars.
Under the “English Teaching” Program, managed by the “Nida” Development Foundation, the English Teaching Market scheduled for May has been cancelled. Most of activities, planned as part of the program, addressed to English teachers is now implemented as distance learning initiatives. Program experts Magdalena Drzewiecka, Małgorzata Zasuńska and Anna Fabjańska-Woźniak have written the Get used to e-learning, i.e. distance education. Five tips for the quarantine period article published in Polska The Times. Magdalena Drzewiecka took also part in two radio broadcasts. In the Radio For You’s “Noon with Vigor” program she shared her experience in e-learning. And in a “Science Station” – a program in the new Polish Radio 4 series of she was explaining English grammar to this-year’s secondary school leavers.
At the moment, the “Equal Opportunities” Program supports over 120 projects; out of them 95 should be completed in June 2020. Project activities are carried out online, if feasible. Together with Polish Children and Youth Foundation, which is the program Manager, we are planning to prolong the projects completion by November 2020. Local Fora scheduled in the first half of 2020 were postponed till September-December.
Educational Enterprise Foundation has announced a new round of the Bridge Scholarships Program. This year’s school leavers who meet the program criteria are offered scholarships of PLN 500 a month, to be paid over the period of 10 months for their 1st year of university course. Enrollment will be held online, and the dates will be announced in the second half of May.
We have totally suspended implementation of educational projects under the “PROJECTOR – Student Volunteers” Program. We are holding consultations with teachers of schools most involved in the program regarding carrying out a part of projects online. Additionally we have launched a Put Together Knowledge Remotely campaign encouraging student volunteers to develop educational material useful in distance learning. The campaign is being promoted in social media and reached some 120,000 Internet users.
Projects implemented under the Seniors in Action initiative of the “Third Age Universities” Program will be prolonged. The enrollment to the new round has been completed – the Association of Creative Initiatives “ę”, the Program Manager, received 212 applications. Activities of TAU for Local Community project have been suspended – we expect to resume them in the fall. Additionally, we have supported Program Ambassadors’ current initiatives such as protective masks sewing or remote psychological support for seniors staying at home.
In the area of development of local communites:
Under the “Act Locally” Program a Crisis Support Package was offered to 77 Act Locally Centers operating on the area of over 600 rural communes and municipalities, which in turn assist smaller organizations and informal groups. Each year ALC network organizes grant competitions to enhance improving the quality of life of local communities, and building social capital, under which support can be received for civic projects related to culture, local identity, environment protection or leisure time activities. This year’s fund for grants in the amount of at least PLN 3 million, including PLN 2 million earmarked for that purpose by PAFF, will be awarded to local initiatives aimed at eliminating effects of pandemic. At the same time the competition procedures have been simplified and the institutional support fund created for Act Locally Centers which will suffer serious difficulties as a result of pandemic.
Under the “PAFF Local Partnerships” Program the alumni may apply for grants of up to PLN 20,000 for activities focused on their local community common good, including initiatives that help to counteract coronavirus effects. Enrollment is on to the 7th round of the program under which the multisector coalitions will be set up to meet needs of local communities, including such as social effects of pandemic mitigation. The total amount earmarked for grants is over PLN 500,000.
The ngo.pl Non-Governmental Organizations Portal has launched the following new sections on the situation of third sector in consequence of pandemic: Coronavirus – organizations are helping – on assistance campaigns conducted by NGOs and Coronavirus – formal and legal issues – on legal and organizational assistance for NGOs;
Info line for NGOs is active – those who call 801-646-719 are redirected to private mobiles of consultants who work from home.
Under the “Financial Management for NGOs” (FIMANGO) path managed by Information Society Development Foundation organizations can get advice by phone or e-mail. Also, FIMANGO Local Advisors are running their online mentoring. Cancelled were stationary training sessions scheduled for April – if feasible they will be held online.
Scheduled for April “PROMENGO” training sessions and Fundraising Schools of the Academy of Civic Organizations Foundation will be held in form of webinars. The Kursodrom.pl e-learning platform operates without any changes. Master Class meetings with participation of guests from abroad and PROMENGO alumni have been suspended.
Under the “PAFF Leaders” Program, Leader Open Space meetings for alumni are held online. To date they have been attended by 70 people. Additionally, so-called Quick Tutor Support – a special offer for those PAFF Leaders who need support in their present activities – has been launched. Leaders are supported by 35 tutors. The Alumni Initiatives Fund offers small grants of PLN 1,000 for activities carried out remotely.
The date of Sector 3.0 Festival was changed from May to September, and the event will be held online. Materials presenting various tools and IT solutions useful in the present situation, for example those needed due to the introduction of distance education, are posted on Sector 3.0 blog.
All training sessions and workshops under the Library Development Program for librarians and other interested people are held in form of webinars. Only over last two weeks over 6,000 librarians took advantage of that offer. Most of activities are registered and made available on www.biblioteki.org and YouTube channel of Information Society Development Foundation
In the area of sharing the Polish experience in transformation:
Lane Kirkland Scholarship Program participants of 2019/20 academic year round keep studying and keep regular online contact with their lecturers. They are writing their diploma theses which they will defend in June. The 6th Kirkland Program Alumni Congress scheduled for May, which was to be attended by almost 400 people, has been cancelled. The event will be held in the spring next year.
The Ambassadors of Region in Transition meeting under the “Region in Transition” (RITA) Program has been postponed to September. Enrollment to other initiatives under the program has been stopped.
All study tours for students and professionals under “Study Tours to Poland”, have been postponed to the last three months of 2020.
Przemysław Zaroń, PR Specialist, Polish-American Freedom Foundation, Tel. 601990029