With the goal of strengthening the capacity of Armenia’s civil society organization (CSOs), The European Union (EU) funded the BRIDGE for CSOs project, implemented by the AGBU Armenia with Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF). A unique requirement of the project was to bridge the gap of knowledge and outreach by enlisting the talent and expertise of members of the worldwide Diaspora to serve as mentors and goodwill ambassadors. This three-year project with a total budget of 2,255.286 EUR concluded in 2019, leaving behind an impressive history of success stories taken from the 49 Armenian CSOs that participated.
Each received grants out of 1,000,000 EUR total funding to carry out their projects, from community and tourism development to women’s empowerment, art and social protection. The project also provided a range of interrelated capacity building interventions: trainings, university-based non-profit management coursework, Diaspora-based pro-bono consultancies to improve capacity and Goodwill Ambassadors to help raise awareness.
The official closing ceremony on December 17, 2019 featured a presentation of the project results, panel discussions with representatives of partner organizations, team members and beneficiaries. The event was also attended by Chargé d'Affaires a.i. of the EU Delegation to Armenia Ekaterina Dorodnova, EU International Aid/Cooperation Officer Line Urban, Chief Executive Officer of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation Gevorg Ter-Gabrielyan, AGBU Armenia leadership; representatives of partner organizations; beneficiaries, and other guests.
In Dorodnova’s welcome remarks, she described the program as having many innovative aspects. “It was truly pioneering, as the EU cooperated with the largest Armenian organizations for the first time. I am truly grateful to AGBU’s leadership for successfully completing this project. Thanks to the great job you did, 49 NGOs throughout Armenia received sub-grants, exceeding the preliminary planned number of 30 organizations.”
Vasken Yacoubian, AGBU central board member and AGBU Armenia president also expressed satisfaction with the partnership. “I want to thank all the people and partner organizations that made this project happen. With this project, AGBU supported the socio-economic development of Armenia. Engaging civil society organizations has been an important step to better understand this area. We are grateful for partnerships established during the project and hope that a solid base for further cooperation has been created.”
Ter-Gabrielyan pointed out the unique aspect of the collaboration. “We created a project engaging Diaspora’s potential to serve the development of Armenia’s civil society. Throughout the past decades, civil society and its structures in Armenia have been developing in an insulated manner. Many Diaspora circles have refrained from working with civil society organizations because of the lack of trust. While addressing this very issue, we set a goal to create a bridge between Armenia and the Diaspora. I think we succeeded.”
AGBU Bridge for CSOs sub-grantee Lilit Petrosyan, the executive director of Ballet 2021 Development Foundation, spoke about the positive impact of the sub-grants.“Thanks to the sub-grant, we brought performing international arts to Gyumri, the second largest city in Armenia, as well as gained valuable connections and an opportunity to invite an architect from abroad to help build a new cultural center in Gyumri.”
Representatives of other sub-grantee organizations Artush Khachatryan, the head of Community Pulse NGO, Karine Harutyunyan, member of Havat, a CSO for hearing-impaired children and mothers, as well as other groups shared their impressions and achievements with participants on the panel.
With so many missions and success stories abounding, AGBU is proud to have supported local CSOs to bring their brightest ideas and inspired missions to fruition for the benefit of a stronger, more innovative and sustainable civil society sector.
AGBU Armenia’s BRIDGE for CSOs programme is implemented in partnership with Eurasia Partnership Foundation and financed by the European Union. This three-year programme aims to strengthen the capacity of Armenian civil society organisations (CSOs) to better respond to citizens' needs. A unique component of the programme is engagement of Diaspora talent and expertise. The programme targets CSOs registered and operating in Armenia, Armenian universities offering professional development courses to CSOs, young professionals from the diaspora interested in contributing with their knowledge and expertise for the development of Armenia.
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