In this year’s message, in addition to reporting on the Foundation’s major projects and initiatives of the past year, I would like to make special reference to the philosophy which underpins our activities and endeavours in seeking to make the Foundation the catalyst for maximising the potential of organisations, individuals and ideas. In line with this aspiration of ours, the following took place in 2019:
1.Support of Civil Society
One of the Foundation’s main aspirations is to promote an inclusive democracy, in which citizens feel free and are encouraged to develop new ideas, start new activities, contribute to their community and work in harmony with each other.
In this context, 2019 saw the launch of the new EEA Grants Active citizens fund (ACF) programme, which is essentially a follow-up to a previous programme which had been implemented from 2013 to 2017. Both these programmes are of great significance for the Foundation’s overall effort to increase social capital in the country.
In addition to its broad focus on strengthening civil society and reducing social and economic disparities, Active citizens fund seeks to also build active citizens, enabling them to become advocates for democracy, human rights, vulnerable groups and minorities.
The programme’s first two public calls for proposals, announced in February 2019, concerned (a) empowering vulnerable groups and (b) strengthening the advocacy and watchdog role of civil society, and were successfully completed with the selection of 42 projects that we believe will have a positive impact on society and will help strengthen the civil society domain.
In December 2019, two new calls were announced, concerning (a) defending human rights and (b) increasing citizen participation in civic activities. This latter theme is crucial for civil society, given that low civic participation is interpreted as a sign of democratic morbidity, low social confidence and a symptom that increases social exclusion. At this point, I would like to recall the words of President Obama in his speech in Athens, in 2016: “That’s why the most important office in any country is not president or prime minister. The most important title is ‘citizen.’ And in all of our nations, it will always be our citizens who decide the kind of countries we will be, the ideals that we will reach for, and the values that will define us.”
In operation since 2017, Social Dynamo is a pioneering institution that supports civil society organisations. It was established by the Foundation for providing learning, co-working and networking opportunities to social organisations, while also serving as incubator for new citizen groups. So far, more than 500 public benefit groups and organisations have been hosted in its training programmes.
2019 saw a significant increase in Social Dynamo’s training events, in tandem with the expansion of its activities to Thessaloniki. More than 2,100 representatives of civil society entities participated in its training activities, while experienced volunteer professionals also offered 320 hours of mentoring and 70 counselling sessions to executives of social organisations.
Finally, in 2019 Social Dynamo won the Gold Award in the “Education” Category at the annual Voluntary Action Festival organised by skywalker.gr.
Legislative initiative on the operation of Social Organisations
Institutional regulation is for us the utmost priority in order to safeguard the credibility of the Civil Society. That is why, as early as 2014, we embarked on an initiative to draft a legislative framework that would help ensure the certification, evaluation and transparent operation of social organisations; however, this effort was not successful at the time.
In 2019, working together with social organisations and other relevant actors, we tried again to elaborate and propose to the government a comprehensive draft law to be put to vote in accordance with the legislative process. We are continuing with our effort in this area.
2. Strengthening education and scientific research
Providing equal opportunities for education, encouraging personal development and supporting excellence and meritocracy are fundamental values of the Foundation.
As education has been – and will always be – a core pillar of our strategy, our respective programmes remain stable over time. Thus, in 2019 we continued to offer:
- To public schools, the means to upgrade the education that they offer.
- To Greek graduates, the opportunity to pursue their studies at postgraduate, doctoral and postdoctoral level.
- To university research laboratories, equipment and scholarships to enable them to continue their work.
- To personnel of innovation incubators, the possibility to practice in innovation organisations and centres in Europe.
- To competent university graduates, internships to help them acquire the requisite work experience in their first professional steps.
- To young Greek scientists, awards of excellence for their pioneering and innovative work.
3. Thematic programmes in partnership with companies, foundations and private donors
The Foundation systematically monitors social needs and takes steps to address the most pressing of them by designing and implementing specific programmes. The funding for these programmes comes from companies, foundations and private individuals who, as our social partners, value and trust the Foundation’s credibility.
Support for the affected in Mati
In 2019, we implemented the programme designed in 2018 to support those affected by the devastating fires that broke out in the summer of 2018 in Mati and the areas around it. The programme was funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation and was structured in two strands of work:
(a) Covering the basic needs of people who have lost their entire property (€1,500 in financial assistance was granted to 122 extremely vulnerable families, while an additional 40 families were supported with food and household equipment donations); and
(b) Providing psychological support to those affected (individuals and families), to help them overcome the psychological trauma caused by the terrible ordeal they went through. A total of 1,400 individuals were initially included in the programme, yet the final number of beneficiaries rose to 2,135, among which 453 children and 436 elderly people.
In addition to the above, The Coca-Cola Foundation, in partnership with Bodossaki Foundation, supports actions to restore and protect the natural and man-made environment. Finally, the two foundations are donating to the Fire Brigade two fire engines for covering emergencies in Attica.
Smart Farming programme
This programme, proposed by Bodossaki Foundation and implemented, thanks to a donation from AB Vassilopoulos, in partnership with the American Agricultural School, brings new technologies at the service of the Greek primary sector production and represents a major step towards the development of smart farming in our country.
It provides the technological means to enable farmers to have direct access accurate, real-time mapped information, delivered directly on their computers and smart mobile devices. In this way, they make informed decisions based on important meteorological and soil parameters.
Thriving Land programme
This programme, which supports agri-food education and is financed by the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), is being implemented in the areas of northern Greece through which the pipeline passes and its work is organised in two strands: education and biotechnology. The education strand was implemented by the American Farm School of Thessaloniki and has now been completed, directly benefiting 639 farmers (against an initial target of 300), while in the first quarter of 2020 the research/biotechnology component, implemented by the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH), is expected to be completed. The programme has a total budget of 1,000,000 euros.
Bicentennial Initiative 1821-2021
In the context of its participation, together with the National Bank and 14 other Greek institutions, in the “Bicentennial Initiative 1821-2021”, organised to celebrate the completion of 200 years from the declaration of the War of Independence, and reflecting on the Greek Revolution of 1821 as an inspiration for the future, Bodossaki Foundation is planning a cycle of speeches, symposia and online lectures on issues that are crucial for the country’s future. It also co-finances and supports events of other organisations, such as the National Historical Museum and the Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation.
The symposia (scientific discussions) to be organised by the Foundation are based on the four strategic priority themes – promoting education, improving healthcare, protecting the environment and empowering civil society – in which the Foundation’s activities are also organised.
The topics to be covered are the following:
- Education: “The University in 21st century Greece”
- Health: “The hospital in 21st century Greece”
- Environment: “Addressing the effects of climate change in 21st century Greece”
- Civil Society: “Civil Society in 21st century Greece”
Given the importance of the topics, the speeches and conclusions of the discussions will be published in separate volumes, so that the workshops leave their distinct mark and serve as a compass for the Foundation’s future actions.