How we helped people initiate change in the Czech Republic and Europe during 2017

Greetings from Via Foundation and welcome to 2018. Although we’ve only spent two weeks in this fresh new year, we’re sure that as 2018 unfolds we’ll see stories just as inspiring as those we witnessed in 2017. Thanks to your support, we were able to support more than 130 projects last year – projects led by people who are changing the Czech Republic for the better, along with 14 in other countries. Thank you to all of our supporters for helping us both financially and by following our work.

2017 was also special because we celebrated Via Foundation’s 20th anniversary. In honor of that occasion we distilled Via’s past 20 years into a few numbers and facts, which you can see here. And coming back to the year just past, here’s a brief look at some of the 2017 highlights from our programs.

We helped sleepy town centers become vibrant places

Dolní Podluží, a small town in the Lužicky Mountains in the Czech Republic, had been lacking a proper town center for decades. With financial and technical assistance from Via, local residents began transforming an open space into a community center one year ago. First they planned the project and worked with an architect on the design. Next, they held work parties and built a new access path, seating areas, a campfire circle and a playground. Under the leadership of the village mayor, over 200 residents took part in the work parties – including the oldest volunteer, Mr. Liška, who celebrated his 87 th birthday last year (above).

Dolní Podluží was one of five communities which participated in the 2015-17 round of our program “The Community in Which We Live”. In the autumn of 2017 we selected another 8 public space improvement projects for the current round of the program, which will run until 2019.

Young philanthropists giving back to their communities

Three friends in Rychnova nad Kněžnou put on a benefit event to help the Orion Center for young people with disabilities. The two-day event was called “Overcoming hurdles to reach the stars” and included lectures, performances and a clothing bazaar with some 8,000 items donated by residents of Rychnova nad Kněžnou. Several hundred people took part in the event, raising CZK 118,387 (USD 5,692, EUR 4,643).

A total of 28 teams of children and young people took part in our Young Philanthropists program in 2017 and organized benefit events for good causes with our guidance.

Revitalization of 38 community places

After a trip to Finland, two Czech friends dreamed of creating a sauna on the banks of the Elbe River. They decided to build a community sauna that unites nature, sport and culture on a site that used to house a boathouse. Today, their dream is reality. The sauna also hosts concerts, film screenings, workshops and other community events.

In 2017, we supported 38 projects connecting neighbors and creating vibrant places through our “Living Communities” program.

Fast Grants enabled 40 groups to act on pressing community issues

When residents of Černošice who live near the 5. května square learned that someone had bought up properties on the square with the intention of building homes there, they began meeting and discussing the proposal. With the help of a Fast Grant, they held community meetings, wrote articles in the local paper and engaged an architect who developed an alternative site design envisioning the square as a public park. Thanks to their efforts, the town leadership is preparing to negotiate with the owner to purchase the properties.

We supported people engaging communities in Central and Eastern Europe

Oksana Oliinyk lives in the Ukrainian village of Hrystanivka, population 100. Although there are strong ties between village residents, people are used to relying on the municipality to take care of anything public – even though local monuments are in disrepair. Oksana and her neighbors decided to initiate a project titled “Stories of Hrystanivka” to remind residents of their shared history. Through old photos, revival of forgotten stories, a street festival and founding a new local history museum, Oksana and co. hope to show residents and tourists that living in Hrystanivce is worth it.

Our international program ViabilityNet supports people working to improve and engage communities across Central and Eastern Europe.

We chose the most powerful stories of philanthropy since 1997

Through the Via Bona Awards, we symbolically recognize people who are giving back to their communities and showing that each and every one of us can be a philanthropist.

In 2017, to celebrate our 20th anniversary, we took a look back at the past two decades and chose some of the most powerful philanthropy stories we’d seen in that time. One of the most inspiring examples was Milan Dzuriak, a 20-year-old who raises money for disabled children by making long-distance biking and hiking treks despite his own progressing illness.

Record giving levels

In early 2017, we launched a new version of our online giving portal, Now people can use the site to run their own fundraising drives to support a project of their choice. By the end of 2017, over 190 people had run their own fundraising drives and raised more than EUR 98,000 (CZK 2.5 million) for non-profit efforts.

The total amount donated through in 2017 was a record EUR 1,960,784 (CZK 50 million), which went to over 400 non-profit organizations. Corporations as well as individuals gave through For example, Nadace Vodofone used to support the CF HERO application helping people with cystic fibrosis and the company Citfin supported the Sue Ryder Home.

Thank you for working with us to help others! We look forward to another great year of helping together in 2018.

We are an independent Czech foundation. We raise money from individual, corporate and foundation donors and from our endowment revenues. We do not use European or Czech government funding.

We thank all of our donors for their financial support, which enables us to support people who are engaged in their communities and in philanthropy in the Czech Republic. Our special thanks go to our biggest donors in 2017: T-Mobile, C.S. Mott Foundation, Hamer Foundation, Jablotron Foundation, Avast Endowment Fund, Česká spořitelna bank, Hana Dvořáková and Dalimil Dvořák, Martin Kulík, Václav Dejčmar, Silke Horáková and Jaroslav Horák, Ivana Janečková and Martin Ducháček.

 Wishing you a successful beginning to 2018 and beyond on behalf of Via Foundation,

Jiří Bárta, Executive Director