ViabilityNet has been one of Via Foundation’s programs since 2011 and is currently in its third rendition. Initially, the program focused on the development of key organizations in Central and Eastern Europe and later the focus shifted to connecting and supporting individuals committed to strengthening civil society in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.
The overall aim of ViabilityNet 2.0 (2014-2016) was to promote engagement in communities through support of inspiring and inclusive leadership. The program offered emerging community leaders from the CEE region space to reflect, connect and grow together. It also provided them with financial resources for projects focused on empowering their communities.
Our target group included people with high impact potential working for an explicitly formulated social change through their local community in the CEE region.
ViabilityNet 2.0 consisted of two cycles. There were a total of 29 participating leaders of community-based initiatives from the region of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Each cycle consisted of 4 four-day meetings designed to give opportunities for reflection and learning and two study trips to community initiatives in the CEE region.
We targeted participants from Central Europe, the Balkans, Baltic states and Eastern Europe. The selected participants were from the following countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine.
We funded and monitored 29 local development community projects. These grants gave participants extra resources which enabled them to test and develop new approaches to strengthening the community’s capabilities to achieve positive social change. Altogether the community projects directly involved 3,177 people. The total number of local residents indirectly involved in these projects in communities across the CEE region was 21,565.
ViabilityNet 2.0 also included a cross-sectoral event entitled Community Forum: Come On, Community!, which took place in May 2016 and aimed to share international know-how about viable communities to enrich the participants’ work, their communities and Via Foundation staff.
The event was an international forum that combined lectures, workshops and unstructured debate sessions in which we brought together European individuals experienced in working in communities on different levels to enable them to glean inspiration from different countries, share their practice and approaches and support one another’s efforts in community work.
During ViabilityNet 1.0 in 2011-2013, five robust organizations took part in a series of focus meetings and invested in both their internal development and in new tools for civil society development in their country.
The Bulgarian Centre for Not-for profit Law (BCNL) launched an on-line streaming channel and a video archive for webinars targeting local NGOs with limited access to live training sessions.
Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia (PDCS) focused on developing and piloting new methods of facilitating cooperation between citizens and public authorities.
Via Foundation developed a leadership program focused on the professional and personal development of promising NGO leaders and, indirectly, their organizations as well.
The Romanian Association for Community Relations (ARC) developed, piloted and worked on the dissemination of donor circles – a specific format for engaging donors as well as supporting them in their endeavours.
The Hungarian Nonprofit Information and Training Centre Foundation (NIOK) created a project-oriented online catalogue of NGOs in order to help small and medium-size companies develop their CSR programs and help NGOs get started with fundraising.
ViabilityNet 1.0 and ViabilityNet 2.0 were supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.