Projects 2014

Project: Strengthening democracy and insuring officials’ accountability actively involving local actors and community groups.
Time: January – December 2014
Supported by: Olof Palme International Centre

Objectives:
To represent citizen’s concerns and have legitimacy in their field;
To have knowledge on how to monitor and influence local policy agendas;
To have expertise on social justice and human rights related to the groups they represent;
To create coalitions and networks within groups and targeted stakeholders;
To create coalitions and network with different institutions/organisations/ community groups within their city/commune;
To create partnerships and networking with Swedish and other European organizations;

Main Activities:
 Trainings on Monitoring and participation
 Training course on social rights and social inclusion
 Active citizenship campaign
 Monitoring performance of LG units/scorecards, Youth action Plan of Kukes Municipality
 Public debates
 Internship programme
 Preparing and presenting youth policy recommendations to Local Governance Units
 Street shows performance
 Pooling surveys
 Youth exchange
 Youth Centre support
 Local Youth Network

Training Courses (TC) on Monitoring and participation; There will be 1 residential training course on monitoring, active participation in decision-making and responsible citizenship. Since every year we have new members on our organization and a new generation, there is a need to organize similar activities each year. We believe this training has a big importance on achieving the objective on monitoring and accountability, since we aim to enhance capacities of local youth, whom will monitor and evaluate the performance of local governance units. A report after the TC including presentations, discussions, conclusions and list of participants is provided.
- Training course on social rights and social inclusion; Social Justice and social rights are the main topics to be addressed during this project with young people and women. Based on the needs and experiences we have, we have set up the objective to use non-formal education as an effective tool to address these issues to the target group. Young people from disadvantaged and remote neighborhoods will be invited to attend this TC, social & youth workers, CSOs’ activists and LG officials. 
- Local Youth Network; networking is one of the key elements we believe to achieve project goal. The network established already needs to be maintained, keep it active, connect it with other local and national networks and promote as much as possible. This network will function mainly online, using social networks such as; facebook and e-mails to share best practices, announce publications, new activities, to inform on monitoring and transparency of local Governance. 
- Youth exchange; Youth Exchange is a great opportunity for young people, activists and youth workers in the region to share ideas for future actions as well and share their best experience. Based on the previous experience, it has been a great experience where young people have learned from each other as well they have planned common activities. We will continue to promote and share our activities and results of the project with other partners and learn from each other.
- Capacity building Workshop on gender issue; Gender equality and social justice are very important objectives to be achieved during this project. Thus we have considered this activity as capacity building for young people and women. Both men and women will be invited to these capacity workshops, with the aim to enhance the importance of social justice and gender equality. The focus will be on civil society organization, youth groups, political youth forums, students union, LG institutions and citizens.  Workshop will be organized at regional level by applying a principle of equal and fair distribution of the opportunity to attend the event with special consideration to under-represented beneficiaries. 
- Active citizenship campaigns; With the aim to put pressure on local governance, educate people on campaigning and keep them as right based activism we will organized different local campaigns. Campaigns are oriented towards social inclusion, transparency, gender issues and social justice. We will continue using means as we have been using during 2012-2013, such as; local and social media, streets, public debates e-networks and e-mail lists sending the messages through flyers and newsletters.
- Monitoring of LG units performance; One of the objectives is to empower and engage local actors on monitoring performance of local authority, using different tools, such as scorecards, surveys and media.  Scorecards, is one of the tools to monitor and measure the performances of local governance officials. Citizens have the main role on this method, where they act directly on monitoring and evaluation the performance of their decision makers. This monitoring process has started already and has a good sign to the project result. Thus we will continue using scorecards in consultation with OPC office and OPC partner organizations in Albania. As well, we will continue to follow, facilitate and monitor the Youth Action Plan. The Youth Board set up in Cooperation with Kukes Municipality will facilitate the process and contribute toward lobbing and advocating on the youth field.  
- Public debates; 2 Public debates to be organized with young people. One of the debates will be organized with youth political forums while the second one will be organized between youth forums of Universities and High schools. These debates will focus on local concerns and mainly on youth and women issues, targeting Local governance services and the role of youth in the decision making process. Public debates will be organized in open spaces with participation of local officials, media and community.
- Street shows performance to be organized; Young people part of different civil society groups will be invited to organize street show performances, where they can perform artistically dramas from the reality linked to transparency, participation, discrimination, social exclusion and also having fun all together. These shows gather a lot of people and serves as a tribune where young people can have their free says and pass the messages to the targeted officials and citizens.
- Pooling surveys; This activity will cover Kukes Region and its’ Local Governance Units to collect data on democracy, LG performance, accountability and transparency, public participation in important processes and decision-making. Data collected will be published in the local media, on the form of e-newsletters, reports and distributed to local authorities and CSOs.
-Youth Policy Recommendations; With the aim to influence in local youth policies, we have planned to collect recommendation from the interest groups during workshops, conferences and public debates. These recommendations collected during the Regional Youth Alliance organized on September 2013, will be consulted with youth groups and presented to the local governance. We will apply pressure to the targeted Government Units to take the recommendations into consideration. Three round table meeting with local Units in Kukes, Has and Tropoja will be organized in order to present and share the recommendations. 
-Internship programme; The internship programme has proven to be an effective tool to set up bridges of communication between youth and local government. The interest has increased from year to year and the programme is evaluated as successful. The internship programme will engage between 25 to 30 youth students of third and fourth year as interns with the main local government units targeted. The activity serves directly reach the objectives of the project.
Project evaluation; the project itself needs full evaluation to see the performance and results achieved. In this context, an independent organization (or proven expert) will be contracted to evaluate the project. This will help us to have a better view from outsiders and reflect on changes that might be needed. The project evaluation will be conducted at the end of the year where a specific focus will be given to results and possible recommendations for improvement.
-Youth Centre support; The youth center will be supported to assure it is functional. However, the youth center has already diversified its sources of funds assuring the necessary equipments for at least two to three upcoming years. The youth center will be supported only to assure the facility/venue. No other costs will be charged to Olof Palme Center. Youth volunteers, members of YFI will manage the Youth Center, which will serve as project partner. 

Through this project we expect the changes and reaction as below:

- transparency and accountability of local authorities
- local network established and effective on democracy promotion
- strengthen the capacities of young people on social inclusion
- young people represented in local authorities  structures and citizens group (youth groups) monitoring and evaluating the local authorities
- responsibility of local authorities
- young people educated on social inclusion
- young people advocating and preparing youth policies for local authorities
- culture established on public debates to develop citizens priorities
- local decision makers committed to respect social justice and propose inclusion practices

 

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Posted on 2014 Mar 17 by ladi
Projects 2014

Project: Promoting youth activism in Northern Albania
Time: February – October 2014
Supported by: National Endowment for Democracy

I. PROJECT OBJECTIVES:
• To promote youth activism in northern Albania and encourage youth participation in local decision-making processes.

II. PROJECT ACTIVITIES:
Youth in Free Initiative will use renewed Endowment support to continue promoting youth civic participation in northern Albania. Working in all three major municipalities of the Kukes region, the Initiative will organize up to 20 roundtables, trainings, debates, and other youth-related events designed to build leadership skills and stimulate youth involvement in local decision-making processes. The Initiative will also facilitate 25 internships with municipal institutions and raise awareness about local youth issues through creative public events and outreach campaigns.
During an initial series of three roundtables, approximately 100 young people will discuss the Initiative’s plans and present their own ideas for activities in 2014. The Initiative’s program provides youth with the opportunity to attend civic education trainings and workshops, but also encourages them to organize their own projects and events. Building on their work during the last two NED-funded projects, a core group of Initiative volunteers will be responsible for organizing six debates on democratic participation and human rights in local high schools. The youth volunteers will prepare and facilitate the debates in five high schools, as well as a final tournament involving all participating students.
This year, two three-day trainings will specifically target politically-active youth and members of youth wings of political parties. The trainings will be designed to improve participants’ skills in formulating and effectively communicating policies, engaging in constructive debate with political opponents, and conducting effective and ethical campaigns. Participants will demonstrate their improved skills during three public debates on current issues important to youth, one in each district of the Kukes Region. The debates will also include representatives from local governments and will be open to the media. The most active participants will be invited to attend a four-day summer camp to further improve public speaking and advocacy skills, develop new approaches to addressing issues important to youth in their respective communities, and evaluate and compare existing local youth policies. This national-level camp in Kukes will create a space for young leaders coming from different political, social, and economic environments to learn from each other and analyze the differences between their experiences.
To increase youth public service, as well as cooperation and collaboration between youth and local government, the Initiative will place 25 third and fourth year university students in summer internships with the local administrations of the Kukes municipality. Interns will be assigned to offices based on their field of study, and will be tasked with both administrative and field work. Participants will attend two day-long workshops on municipal government structure and function and citizen participation in local decision-making processes. At the conclusion of the internships, participants will present their experiences and ideas at a panel discussion with local government representatives, including mayors and municipal council members. The Initiative is working with local government offices to institutionalize the program, with the municipality beginning to cover a percentage of the interns’ stipends.

The Initiative will promote its programs and raise awareness about the most pressing local youth issues through a variety of media outreach strategies. A professional journalist will work with participating youth to produce 15 radio shows, to be broadcast on the Kukes regional station. The programs will feature interviews with local government officials and civil society leaders, as well as announcements about opportunities for youth to receive additional training or gain volunteer experience. The Initiative will also conduct a public outreach campaign to encourage youth political and civic engagement by staging up to 10 public events and producing and distributing 400 flyers and 100 tee shirts.

III. EVALUATION PLAN:
Objective: To promote youth activism in northern Albania and encourage youth participation in local decision-making processes.
• A high level of interest in the Initiative’s activities, as indicated by attendance and participation at the trainings, debates, and public events, will be one measure of success.
• Specific examples of youth-related policies at the local level resulting from the Initiative’s trainings, events, and discussions with government representatives will indicate that this objective was achieved.
• Interest by local government and university students in continuing the internship program will be considered an important indicator of success.

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Posted on 2014 Mar 17 by ladi
Projects 2014

Project - Training Course, Empowering Youth activism and Volunteerism
Time: February – July 2014

Supported by: Council of Europe, European Youth Foundation
Youth in Albania are an extremely important yet vulnerable group. Although youth population 16 – 35 represents more than 40% of the population, their voice are often not heard as they are not yet well represented in the governance and decision making processes. Lack volunteering and youth activism in Albania is affecting about 55 000 young people or 60% of the population of Kukes region. Because young people are not motivated to play an active role on their communities, youth groups and organizations face difficulties in organizing youth campaigns and voluntary activities. Because of high level of corruption within government institutions in Albania and low level of youth participation and activism, people at this region are suffering of social injustice, inequality, lack of volunteer services and social insecurity.
The proposed project focuses on the work with youth from civic groups at local level, aiming to enhance their contribution toward active citizenship, voluntarism and cooperation, in order to be able to influence within their groups, community and forums. The project is going to strengthen capacities of local youth leaders, youth groups, Youth Centres, likewise empowering voluntarism through practicing democracy education of young people to be active citizens and human rights defenders. The action itself will establish regional cooperation through training course and online cooperation after the action. 
The training course is a seven day seminar where local young leaders from youth forums of civil society will develop their skills in youth leadership, facilitation, communication, group dynamics, conflict resolution, motivation and empowerment. This course will qualify youth activist and leaders to lead and manage local and national volunteer groups, summer camps and campaign activities in an NGO setting. All topics and tools introduced at the training are focused on how to act locally with a global mind-set. This means that the tools throughout the seminar are focused on how to lead other people in creating social change.
Why?
The training course is developed based on the needs of young people to empower their skills in activism and volunteering. Challenges faced by young people at local level in Kukes Region are linked with; Promotion of Youth Civic Engagement, especially in the areas of youth policies; team building to act as youth groups at local level; convince the community to get the support and local government officials about their concerns; enable their participation in the decision making process. Some of their needs based on the challenges are related with; developing skills on leadership and activism; learn how to get motivated to make a difference in their community; how to establish a team work for campaigning and how to motivate their peers and becoming an EVS volunteer.
Therefore it is a training course where young people will strengthen their social competencies on how to lead a diverse group and promote volunteerism. Participants will gain tools and knowledge that can be integrated in their daily activities – education, job or organization involvement. And the best part - they will learn how to lead by leading other participants during the seminar.
To achieve what
The project is focused on the work with youth from civic groups youth forums, aiming to strengthen and increase competences of participants on youth activism, enhancing their active citizenship and cooperation, in order to be able to influence to influence within their community and forums. In addition, the project aims at improving the communication between different camps of youth political forums and raising their organizational capacities. It is seen as a vehicle to develop the democracy in small groups through non-formal education, in relation with Human Rights Education of young people in Kukes region.
Objectives:
To strengthen capacities of local youth civic groups towards participation and democracy, HR education and decision taking.
To empower youth and ensure they have skills for making democracy works, fostering the culture of Human Rights, sense of citizenship and democratic debates, initiating criticism mass debates through informative meetings, classroom and public debates using participatory approaches.
To empower youth groups and individuals at local level how to do volunteering and social activism, by using participatory approaches, selecting potential multipliers, directed service wise and community based and the use/involvement of public structures and media wise. 
To foster a culture of voluntarism and understand the core values of participation in the community.
Methodology:
Non-formal education will be the methodology used based on Compass manual, as our trainers have been part of ToT of CoE. It will include icebreaker dynamics, Interactive learning workshops, presentations on previous campaigns and activism, working sessions on project management, leadership and voluntarism, field visits to social service centers at Kukes Municipality, intercultural evening and open space workshops.
Reflection and learning outcome groups will be led every day in order to check together with participants the flow of the project. This Training course will take place in Kukes, Albania 16-23 May 2014, involving 30 participants from three districts of Kukes Region.
Flow
This project is result of the consultations and needs of youth groups and local stakeholders in north east region of Albania. The interest of youth groups to develop their skills and civil society to empower and organize activism and voluntarism forms a strong tie to involve in the project different groups with similar interests. There is a coherence of developing the project. The project will involve youth workers, and youth leaders and activists to enhance their skills on how to do volunteering and social activism at local level. After the course participants will be able to act as multipliers in the region and beyond, in the networks they are part of.
The training course is the most important part of the project. Open space workshops on activism, leadership and voluntarism with role plays as well field visit to successful projects are our key activities of the training course that participants will find most interesting.  Concrete steps of the course: a) First phase: Preparation meeting of the trainers; announcement call for the training course, process of selection, establishing the network with pax before the training; b) Second phase, training; Theoretical part and best practices (presentations and interaction of experts); Interactive workshops on Leadership, Voluntarism, Social Inclusion and Project Management; Filed visit to social service centers and other projects in the region. c) After the training: Provide educational manuals online, organize forums debates online, initiate and support local campaigns and voluntary days, motivate young people to organize classroom debates.  
Approach:
Interactive and Learning workshops are an important part of the training which enables participants to go through a learning process. Such workshops allow the exchange of the experiences amongst participants. These workshops are also important in promoting a very special spirit and sense of motivation within the group.  Being ensured that we have selected the right participants which show a nigh motivation and interest for the course, assisted with a professional team of trainers, we aim to achieve the objective of the project in empowering participants’ skills. An assessment of participants will be conducted during the preparatory phase of the training, based on the objectives we have set for the project, adapting their needs and skills on the topics. This will help trainers to design the best methodology and programe for the participants. Each participant will be involved from the preparatory phase to the end of the project. Through network established online, we will start to create profiles for each one, addressing a personal assessment form and creating space for each one during the workshop to act and perform different workshops. Participatory approach will be used, based on the Compass manual. Dynamic exercises, role plays, presentations, debriefing and evaluation will be practiced during the course. The role of the project team is to ensure that all participants feel comfortable and familiar with the setting and interact with each other. Trainers and facilitators will get to know in deep each profile of the participant and establish good communication. They will act as supporter and get involved within groups of participants very smoothly.
Who?
30 young people 18 30 years old; from Kukes region will attend the training course. This training targets youth workers, youth leaders from high schools senate, Students unions and active members of civil society. These groups of people already have their place in the society and they are acting in their groups, however we will enhance their skills acting more actively and promoting voluntarism at local community level, motivating them to be identified as social actors. Being important actors in the society, they will help us to achieve the objectives of the course, because we will select only motivated and very interested people for the course, which aims to develop their skills. They have to show their spirit to get involved in public life and organize online campaigns during the project.  
Learning outcomes
During this course participants will develop critical and reflective thinking abilities; gain knowledge and understanding of leadership foundational theories and best practices;  cultivate a sense of voluntarism and self-awareness to contribute for the society; demonstrate communication skills and ability to interrelate with other local actors; Enhance awareness and commitment towards effective citizenship and social responsibility; understand the importance of taking responsibility for their actions and involvement in the community. A process of evaluation will be conducted during and after the course, in order to modify during the planning and measure it after the training if the program met the participants needs. During the reflection groups each day we will measure how much participants have benefitted from the programme, while at the end of the course a final evaluation form will be filled by each participant measuring specific aspects of the course. Debriefing each section of the course through reactions of pax will help the project team to understand how good participants are adapted and at which level they are involved. Each participant on the course will be asked to prepare an activity during the course and implement it after the course, in order to practice in their groups what they have learned.  This way of starting with small steps in their groups will help them to get involved in local community and identify them as potential actors and future leaders.
Link with Council of Europe
This project contributes to the aim of CoE, since it helps young people, particularly those from low income neighbourhoods and rural areas, where according INSTAT, Kukes region is the most isolated region and the poorest on in Albania. This project encourages new forms of youth participation of youth groups and youth leaders, making an important contribution to social cohesion. The above mentioned actions are directly related with CoE priorities. During this project we are going to use CoE publication, such as; different Toolkits, European Social Charter and Compass manual which already translated in Albanian language. We are going to disseminate the project results online, on the official website and on the social networks, in order to be visible for other youth groups in Albania and beyond. This information, such as pictures, reports and feedback reactions from participants can be used by CoE and EYF. 
Follow up
To evaluate the learning outcomes, we have planned to ask participants to think and plan about an action after the course. This action will be organized by them, in their small groups or in the community, practicing skills learned during the course. This can be a campaign, a round table, a classroom debate or a voluntary activity in the setting where they come from. Youth in Free Initiative organization has also planned to support youth groups for local action on voluntarism and youth activism.
Process
Our project team has people who are passionate, experienced and confident in the work they do, and through their actions they inspire others to do so in their organizations. This is a commodity in our trainings and workshops we have organized so far. They have already worked together in the past and they know each other, so we fully trust on their engagement and cooperation. However all of them have very different skills, competences and expertise. For this reason, we have planned a preparatory meeting, to work together for a successful project. During this meeting they will review the plan and objectives and discuss how to better adapt to the participants needs. They will be able to prioritize key activities, divide their roles and share their responsibility. They are flexible to change their roles and support each others during the course. This meeting will give them the possibility to think effectively and select most motivated candidates for the course and get to know them more.

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Posted on 2014 Mar 17 by ladi
Current projects 2012 - 2013

Project title: Strengthening democracy through participation
Supported by Olof Palme International Center - SIDA


Project title: Strengthening youth activism in North Albania
Supported by: National endowment for Democracy


Project title: Adopting gender based approaches to instigate change
Supported by: UNDP - Albania

Posted on 2013 Jan 14 by ladi
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