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.
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. Living Communities also 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 79 Living Communities projects in 2019, which ranged from neighborhood festivals to community mural painting and a save-our-hospital initiative. We invite you to read about some 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 parks, 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.
Read about the 8 projects completed in 2019 here. The 2020 program is underway – check back for news about the selected projects in March.
In 2019, we launched a new program with T-Mobile to improve media and information literacy, particularly among children and senior citizens. In 2019 we awarded $87,280 (CZK 2 million) through this program to projects across the Czech Republic.
ViabilityNet 3.0 was a three-year program that trained Central and Eastern European community leaders, brought together nine organizations from different CEE countries to learn with and from one another, supported alumni of our previous ViabilityNet program, and measured the impact of community work and our leadership training. The program was founded on the belief that by helping communities strengthen local leadership, internal communication and the ability to reach compromises, we help them become better equipped to deal with challenges that will arise in society in the coming years. It was the last segment in our nine-year Viability programming generously supported by the C.S. Mott Foundation.
You can read more about the program on the dedicated ViabilityNet 3.0 site. We also invite you to read about the participants of the community leaders’ development program here and for interviews with some of these inspiring individuals, click here.
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.
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.