The work of the Via Foundation is focused on two main areas of development – the art of giving and the art of living together – or in other words, philanthropy and community development. Via supports people who are engaging fellow residents to build strong communities and encourages people to view philanthropy as a normal part of life in the Czech Republic. Our support combines grants and learning opportunities, which are offered through our Via Academy. We also help donors set up advised funds.
Program Guidelines for Building the Future, One Community at a Time
At the Via Foundation, we focus on growing the number of people in the Czech Republic caring and working collaboratively to improve their communities, giving to help others and trusting others. We typically award support through open calls, where project applications are evaluated by independent selection juries. You can find an overview of our community development and philanthropy development programming below.
Through our Community Development programming, we provide support to people and non-profit organizations, located mainly in the Czech Republic, who share a drive to improve their communities in both tangible and intangible ways. Some groups build community gardens. Others revitalize public spaces or hold community festivals. Yet others restore small monuments or reawaken long-forgotten orchards of heirloom fruit trees. All of them engage fellow residents from diverse social groups in their efforts. Through their projects, they learn to work together, collaboratively care for their environment and strengthen bonds to each other and to their communities. We provide grants, consultations in project management and citizen engagement, and learning opportunities, guiding these groups in their community work and helping them connect to likeminded people in different corners of the country.
Our Community Development programs include:
The Living Communities program gives people the tools they need to make a difference where it matters most to them – in their neighborhoods and communities. We support efforts that engage residents, strengthen bonds, build trust and increase use of local assets for the good of the community. As of 2019, Living Communities encompasses our Fast Grants programming for citizens taking a stand on urgent local public interest issues such as mismanagement in local government, wasteful use of public resources, land use plan manipulations for personal gain, new construction projects of dubious public merit and the like.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we supported a total of 47 Living Communities projects in 2018. We invite you to read about a selection of them here.
The Community in Which We Live is a long-standing, intensive Via Foundation program for community groups or municipalities improving public spaces in their communities, such as town squares and village commons. These projects are based on broad engagement of residents in the planning, design and construction of public spaces that serve local needs, and give residents a chance to work together, set common priorities and build relationships. We offer project teams seed funding, an expert guide to help them with project management and community engagement, and workshops on local fundraising, building with volunteers and engaging community.
You can read about our 2017-28 projects here. We are currently innovating a new rendition of the program with a planned launch date of mid-2019.
ViabilityNet 3.0 to is a three-year program aiming to increase community resilience in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) through tangible positive social change in local CEE communities. We believe that by helping communities strengthen local leadership, internal communication and the ability to reach compromises, we will help them become better equipped to deal with challenges that will arise in society in the coming years. The program includes community leadership development programming, a network of partner organizations supporting civil society in CEE, an alumni network of previous ViabilityNet program participants, and impact measurement in collaboration with academic researchers.
You can read more about the program on the dedicated ViabilityNet 3.0 site and about the participants of the community leaders’ development program here and for interviews with some of these inspiring individuals, click here.
The T-Mobile Fund supports projects that use communication, cooperation and engagement or integration of disadvantaged groups to bring about positive changes in specific communities or areas in the Czech Republic. Via Foundation administers the fund for T-Mobile.
Support for Philanthropy Development
Via strives to help make charity, generosity, giving and caring for others a natural part of people’s lives in the Czech Republic. We raise awareness about giving in the Czech Republic and recognize outstanding individual and corporate donors. We also support children and students organizing charity events to launch them on lifelong paths of giving back, and we develop online giving in the Czech Republic.
Our philanthropy development programs include:
This program gives children and young people up to age 26 an opportunity to try out philanthropy first-hand. We give them support in planning, designing and implementing their own charity projects through an introductory workshop, continous project guidance and a small grant for their event and matching of the funds they raise. Over 1,000 young philanthropists have participated since the program began five years ago. We invite you to read more about the 15 teams participating in the 2019 program here, and about 14 teams which took part in the 2017-18 program here.
We publish the Art of Giving journal to provide information in support of philanthropy in the Czech Republic. The Art of Giving enables us to reach an every-growing audience of Czech philanthropists and people who are considering giving but are not sure how with a quarterly print run of 11,000 units. The online journal (in Czech) is available here.
The Via Bona Philanthropy Awards publicly recognize individuals and companies for their charitable efforts in the Czech Republic. Each year, the awards highlight exemplary cases of giving and draw attention to new trends in philanthropy, acting as a beacon inspiring current as well as potential donors.
In 2019, the Via Bona Philanthropy Awards will highlight inspiring communities and will culminate in a gala awards ceremony in May 2019. Read more here. The 2018 Via Bona Awards focused on innovation in giving, and the ceremony took place on May 21, 2018 in Prague. You can read more about the 2018 award winners here.
We developed Darujme.cz, an online fundraising tool for Czech non-profit organizations, to enable them to reach out to current and existing donors and offer them an easy and secure way to give online. We manage Darujme.cz in close collaboration with our sister organization, Via civic association (Sdružení VIA, z. ú.)
Learning and Development
Via’s approach to support is multi-faceted, which means that our programs provide more than just grants. Whenever possible, we complement funding with learning opportunities such as educational seminars, workshops, and technical assistance, which are provided through Via Academy (see below). Our sister organization, Via civic association (Sdružení Via, z.u.), provides technical support to Czech non-profit organizations.
In 2019, we are launching Via Academy, a cross-program learning initiative that is open to all of our grantees as well as other people working to improve their communities and which will offer various types and levels of learning. Regardless of the program they are in, all grantees and other community leaders will now have access to joint training seminars, individual expert consultations, a community development festival and publications. By introducing a cross-program educational program, we aim to enable grantees to learn from each other and network with each other, to give grantees more freedom in designing their own individual learning paths, and also to maximize the efficiency of our educational activities.
This program, managed by Via civic association, offers Czech non-profits the opportunity to apply for software and hardware from leading technology companies at discounted prices.
Cultural Heritage Fund
The Cultural Heritage Fund provided support for projects restoring and preserving small monuments and chapels located throughout the Czech Republic. Experts and volunteers worked together to restore these pieces of history and preserve their cultural significance for generations to come. In 2017 we folded the Cultural Heritage Fund into our Living Communities program but we invite you to read about the Cultural Heritage Fund 2016 Projects here.
From 2012 to 2016, the Better Business program supported fledgling social enterprises that aim to do good by doing business. The program concluded in 2016.
We held our first Community Forum in May 2016 with the aim of bringing together people working on various levels in local communities in the Czech Republic and other European countries. The forum gave community leaders opportunities to glean inspiration from different countries, share their best practices and approaches and support one another’s efforts. We built on the 2016 event with Community Forum 2017: Breaking Out of Bubbles, which once again combined key note speakers, a set of workshops, open space discussions, site visits and networking activities in an informal setting. The focus of the 2017 was exploring the issue of polarization in local communities.
Donor Advised Funds
Mr. and Mrs. Hora Fund:
Marie and Vaclav Hora established this donor fund in 2005 to help children in the Carpatho-Ukraine.
Sykora Family Fund:
The proceeds from the Sykora Family Fund support various projects in the Czech Republic and abroad.
Three Sisters Are Helping Fund:
In 2011, the music band Three Sisters established a donor advised fund to help socially at-risk children and youth.
This donor advised fund, established in 2006 by Marek Herman and his students, supports educational and development programs for parents of preschool-aged children.