Rural Development Foundation, Poland


Rural Development Foundation, Poland

The Rural Development Foundation is an NGO established by the Primate of Poland on June 30, 1999, to combine the Water Supply Foundation and the Agricultural Foundation. Over the years many different programs have developed to help the rural communities of Poland.

History

The foundation was created by two separate organizations merging together. The Water Supply Foundation and The Agricultural Foundation make up what is now the current Rural Development Foundation.

" Water Supply Foundation "

This organization was established in 1987 from negotiations between the Catholic Church and the Communist regime. The main goal was to allow foundations to exist because the state had owned all property and existing foundations by law since 1952. The Water Supply Foundation supplied grants and loans to construct water and sewage systems in rural communities. Also, the foundation worked to organize trainings for locals starting small businesses, agrotourism, environmental protection, and learning about democracy.

" Agricultural Foundation "

This organization began in 1991. The main goal was to make rural communities less dependent on agriculture by creating other options for income. The foundation made this possible through supplying loans to people so they could become more independent and establish their own work places. The Agricultural Foundation was the only non-governmental organization in the country at the time and supported small water retention projects and reconstructing small hydro-electric power sites.

Programs

Micro-Loan Program

One of the Rural Development Foundation's main objectives is to support non-agricultural business while fighting rural unemployment. Micro-loans are given to inhabitants of rural communities who wish to open or develop their own business. The maximum amount that could be loaned is 10,000 PLN (4,654.47 USD) and were given free of interest for 24 months.

" Hydroelectric and Wind Power Stations "

This part of the loan program lends money to people who are investing in small hydroelectric or wind power stations. This part of the program has been going on for 14 years and is the only program of its kind in Poland.

Training and Education Programs

This program includes developing agro-tourism, planning projects to benefit local communities, and internet instruction for senior citizens. Sometimes training is done in three-day workshop settings and sometimes skills are taught through a course. People over 50 years old are trained to use a computer and to navigate their way through the internet. Another effective way for villagers to educate themselves is through the attending the nationwide conference of all active organizations in rural areas. This meeting is a good way for people to broaden their horizon by exchanging information and gaining ideas and knowledge.

Program e-VITA

The main purpose of this program is to encourage and develop the use of information and communication technologies. e-VITA works with communities called gmina. These communities have between 5,000 and 20,000 people in them, making it the smallest community allowed to have a local government. The e-VITA program works directly with the local governments and encourages them to invest in IT development because it will increase their community’s knowledge and motivation. In the first program there were six communities where implementation took place: Białogard, Cekcyn, Mały Płock, Recz, Stoszowice, Zelów, and in the second there were thirteen. There are several groups in these small towns that benefit from the e-VITA program. These include local government workers, businessmen, farmers, seniors, and youth.

Program e-VITA was first implemented in 2004. The second program occurred in 2006 and the planning for the third program is happening in the Summer of 2008. The two different directions of this program focus on separate areas. The first focuses on the implementation of the internet, the continuing development of skills, and on the locals' personal growth. These things are important for the locals to become self-sufficient. The second direction concentrates on connecting the entirety of Poland together. This direction includes the Rural Development Foundation's website "Witryna Wiejska", which serves as a meeting ground for all citizens of Poland to stay connected and updated on the activities in rural areas.

Program e-VITA normally coordinates with two sponsors: The Rural Development Foundation and The Polish American Freedom Foundation. Aside from working with these sponsors, e-VITA must work with the local governments in the gmina because they are the force donating money for the continuation of the information and communication technologies in the area. it's important for the local governments to be passionate about IT development and to encourage their community to continue learning about it. After implementing the program, two jobs are left for its continuation. The first job is a position based in technology support and maintenance, while the other position is based in continuing education and training. Both of these jobs are seen as leadership roles in the community and are vital to the success of the program.

Witryna Wiejska Website

This program is the website for the foundation and all the programs. It is meant to give practical advice, information, and direct help to its users, but also to display current topics on education, advising, financing and life in local communities. Rural inhabitants as well as city-dwellers are encouraged to use this website to stay up to date on the activities going on in rural communities.

The website developed from Atlas Initiative. This was an agreement made between the foundation and organizations that funding would be supplied for their projects in exchange for sharing their success stories online. This link still exists on the site today with listings of projects that worked well.

The "Razem" Partnership- EQUAL

from their village. The RDF has created 'Hobbiton' in Sieraków Sławieński, obviously themed after hobbits.

Pre-School Children's Clubs

This program comes from a partnership among the Rural Development Foundation, the Polish Children's Development Centre in Lublin, and the Teacher Training and Ongoing Education Centre in Suwałki. This group works to find alternative forms of pre-school education in rural communities in order to create equal education opportunities between rural and urban children. In areas where no pre-schools exist, Pre-School Children's Clubs are created to benefit teachers, students, and parents. In these clubs, teachers work with children 15 hours a week based on the curriculum for all pre-schools.

Grant Competition Program

"With 10,000 PLN, how can one improve the quality of life in our village, parish, or post-state farm settlement?" This is the question asked to the local NGO participants in this grant competition. This program's focus is to improve the quality of life in rural villages. NGO organizations such as associations, societies, foundations, religious organizations, private care establishments, youth organizations, rural minicentres, women's organizations, urban renewal groups, rural administrations, rural administration councils, parishes, voluntary fire brigades, and rural women's circles are allowed to submit an application. Applicants with projects fulfilling requirements can be awarded up to 10,000 PLN.

" Close to Culture "

This program gives grants to culture-forming institutions that are being established because they are trying to preserve and expand the range of culture that residents can experience.

" Protection of Biodiversity "

This program works to make villagers want to preserve old species of flowers and plant life through grants for local projects.

" Our Minicentre "

Centers for internet and information for people of all ages was created through grants by this program. These centers are especially beneficial for children as a place to do homework after school. Normally, children in rural areas leave school and have no access to learning materials, but this program makes it possible.

" Fruitful Holidays "

Children in rural areas don't always get the opportunity for a vacation. This program allows for children to apply for a contest to receive grants for a holiday. The vacations these children take must be near their village, must involve their parents, and must be educational.

Internet Competitions for Young People

There are two internet competitions for students in secondary schools in Poland. The first is called "Know Poland" and teaches students how to find information about Poland on the internet. The winners of the contest are awarded a three day stay in Warsaw, with their parents and also receive diplomas or certificates for their achievments. There is also a "Know America" internet contest where students fill out a questionaire about the United States online. This project is coordinated through the United States Embassy in Poland and with Collegium Civitas. The Rural Development Foundation administers the program and Collegium Civitas provides a lecture on the United States. It is a great opportunity for students across Poland to gain a better understanding of their country and the United States.

References

* "Rural Development Foundation": Report 2006

External Links

* [http://www.fww.org.pl/ Official Rural Development Foundation website]
* [http://www.witrynawiejska.pl Witryna Wiejska]
* [http://www.equal.org.pl EQUAL]
* [http://www.wioskitematyczne.org.pl English information about EQUAL]


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