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.
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, so far this year we have supported a total of 85 Living Communities projects, including community gardens, tree planting initiatives, neighborhood festivals and many other diverse commuinty improvement projects. You can read about a selection of currently supported projects 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.
We invite you to read about the three current projects here.
The Community Alphabet program is a new Via international learning program for program managers and consultants of three national-level community support organizations – HACD in Hungary, TRAG in Serbia and Via in the Czech Republic. The program introduces resource analysis and mobilization, community resilience and diversity sensitivity approaches to the participants and helps them integrate elements of these approaches into their work. By adopting a combination of these approaches, the participants, and their organizations, will be able to help supported communities make better use of local resources, consider their own resilience and work towards an inclusive approach to community building. The program will run through 2022.
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.
Through this program, children and young people raise money for good causes in their communities. For most participants, it is their first direct experience with giving back to the community and can be the start of a lifelong path of community giving and engagement. We give them support in planning, designing and implementing their fundraising projects through workshops, project guidance and a small grant and matching of the funds they raise locally. Over the past six years, we have reached more than 3,000 children and young people through this program.
In 2019 we supported 30 teams. Read about how they gave back to their communities here.
Our Art of Giving journal brings readers news about philanthropy, interviews with philanthropists and other interesting articles to inspire giving. Printed quarterly, 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 to start. The online journal (in Czech) is available here.
For the past twenty-two years, the Via Bona Philanthropy Awards have publicly recognized individuals and companies in the Czech Republic for outstanding charitable efforts. 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 highlighted inspiring communities and culminated in a gala awards ceremony in May 2019. We invite you to read about the 2019 award-winners here.
We developed the Darujme.cz online fundraising tool to give donors an easy and secure way to give online and help Czech NGOs reach out to current and existing donors. Over 630 Czech non-profit organizations are registered. In 2019 alone we registered 140 new NGOs and helped donors send gifts worth $5,673,150 (CZK 130 million). We manage Darujme.cz in close collaboration with our sister organization, Via civic association (Sdružení VIA, z. ú.)
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.
Through Via Academy, a cross-program learning initiative that is open to all of our grantees as well as other community leaders, we offer workshops on e.g. How to initiate a community project, fundraising and community mapping. Along with these workshops,we offer grantees project-specific consultations with experts and publications. The cross-program nature of our educational program enables grantees to learn from each other and network with each other, gives them freedom in designing their own individual learning paths, and also maximizes the efficiency of our learning programming.
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.
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.
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