The Fast Grants program is an effective tool for people who want to protect their favorite public spaces. This program is designed for people who want to respond quickly to dire situations in their communities, such as planned demolition of a valuable building, and unfair practices such as non-transparent decisions by public authorities and arbitrary land use planning changes. Last year we awarded 35 Fast Grants to civic initiatives and NGOs, disbursing a total of CZK 750,000 ($29,700).
Fast Grants can be used for planning and organizing information campaigns about current issues, for commissioning independent studies, consulting and advisory services, petitions and local referendums, legal services and disputes, etc. Fast Grants run up to CZK 30,000 ($1,200).
The Fast Grants program has an application deadline once a month and the process has been simplified in order to provide money quickly to groups addressing pressing issues. The two examples below show how people in two communities fought to preserve the character of their favorite places.
Radkov: Saving a historical allée
An old carriage allée connects the towns of Radkov and Dubová in the Opava region of northern Moravia. The allée was planted with linden trees in the mid-19th century and originally connected the castle in Dubová with the church in Radkov. Today a 500-meter section of the allée remains in the landscape. It is a one-way track approximately 3.5 meters wide that is used by cars as well as pedestrians and bicycles but the vehicle traffic makes travel for those on foot or bike dangerous. In 2015, the local road authority sought to take down 13 of the linden trees but its plan failed to take into account the allée’s unparalleled value to the region or to propose revitalization measures. A local association led citizens in expressing their objections at a public meeting. They used a Fast Grant of CZK 25,000 ($990) to organize the public meeting, publish and distribute a brochure about the allée and commission a professional opinion. Thanks to their efforts the linden trees were saved and a bi-pass project was initiated.
Úvaly: Referendum about a swimming pool
Closed for years, the outdoor swimming pool in Úvaly u Prahy gradually began to fall into disrepair. The local government refused to fund repairs due to the cost, claiming that reconstructing the swimming pool would drain funding from other needed repair work. An association of residents was convinced that the repairs could be managed at a reasonable cost and without infringing on other repair expenditures. The group organized a referendum, which saw a 5% higher turnout than the last local elections. A Fast Grant of CZK 20,000 was used for a public information campaign about the referendum.
Three-quarters of those who cast their ballots voted to save the swimming pool. The referendum results are binding and the association is now seeking to work with the town on the reconstruction project. The pool is scheduled to re-open next year.
Fast Grants application deadlines are held several times a year.
The program also includes a local activists’ club, which meets four times a year to give active citizens an opportunity to connect and share information about current issues, legislative changes or other topics they are grappling with. We also offer advisory services through which fledgling activists can consult public campaigns with experienced professionals.
Fast Grants program donors include the Bader Philanthropies, the Anti Corruption Endowment Fund, ČSOB Private Banking Goodwill Card and individual donors.