Stefan Batory Foundation
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The Stefan Batory Foundation (Polish: Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego) is the name of the national Soros Foundation in Poland. It was named after Stephen Báthory of Poland, the 16th-century Polish king.
Stefan Batory Foundation is an independent, private, Polish foundation established by American financier and philanthropist, George Soros and registered in Poland in May 1988. Named after the 16th-century king of Poland of Hungarian extraction, the Foundation’s mission is to support the development of an open, democratic society in Poland and other Central and East European countries.
The Foundation’s activities are funded by the Open Society Institute, Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe, the Ford Foundation, Robert Bosch Stiftung and other institutional and individual donors in Poland and abroad.
Its goal is to build civil society, a society of individuals aware of their rights and duties, actively participating in public life and taking responsibility for themselves and their community. It supports local civic initiatives, independent think-tanks and watchdogs. It is committed to improving the quality of Polish democracy, respect for human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law. It fights corruption. It opens public debates on issues where there is low public awareness. It assists young democracies in Eastern European countries and builds networks within the European Union.
History and beginnings
The Batory Foundation was founded in 1988 when the communist system in Eastern and Central Europe was disintegrating. It was established by an American philanthropist of Hungarian extraction, George Soros, and Polish democratic opposition leaders of the 1980s. The mission of the Foundation was to contribute to the preparation of Polish society in the transition from communism to democracy, civil society and a market economy.
Early on, the Batory Foundation invested in the preparation of cadres for the market economy and democratic system taking roots in Poland by funding hundreds of scholarships and travel grants for economists, bankers, physicians, teachers, and local government activists. It also made a significant contribution to the various reforms being implemented in the country after the collapse of communism, supporting the reform of local government, public administration, and social welfare policy. These reform-related initiatives eventually gave rise to the Institute of Public Affairs, a major think-tank in Warsaw, which the Foundation helped to establish in 1995.
Based on the belief that democracy and open society cannot be realized without active involvement of the public, the Foundation disbursed hundreds of micro-grants to a variety of local civic initiatives, contributing to the establishment of numerous local organizations.
The Foundation has also been very active in the field of education and culture. It has promoted leadership skills and provided civic, health and business education to youth, trained teachers for foreign language instruction, provided Internet access to schools, worked to improve the quality of teaching and management at universities, and provided funding to allow for more diverse curricula. For many years the Stefan Batory Foundation has remained the only non-governmental patron of ethnic minority education and culture, and the leading promoter of culture on the local level: in neglected areas and provincial Poland, where it stimulated cultural life and worked toward equal access to culture.
In its grant-making activity the Batory Foundation has always concentrated on supporting innovative projects that break new ground and can serve as models for others. It has devoted special attention to the problems that were neglected or not sufficiently present in the public consciousness: it was among the first to address women's issues, child abuse, palliative care, and the rights of ethnic minorities and the disabled.
The role of the Stefan Batory Foundation has gone beyond grant making. It has served as a facilitator to promote open debates and discussions on important public issues, and acted as a liaison to advance knowledge and increase abilities of non-governmental organizations, universities, and motivated individuals through grants, fellowships, and conferences.
Since the very beginning the Foundation has not limited itself to assisting democracy in Poland, but it has made the support to democratic changes in the region one of its top priorities. As a result, the Foundation has become the largest non-governmental organization in Poland promoting international cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States. The programs attracted thousands of influential leaders and opinion makers from CEE, Baltic and Balkan countries, Caucasus and Central Asia.
Until 2007, in 20 years of its existence, the Stefan Batory Foundation has spent USD 95,9 million on all its programs, USD 71 million of which were assigned for grantmaking.
Throughout 2007, the Foundation provided 513 grants to institutions and organizations, 47 travel grants to cover costs of 169 participants attending events and projects abroad, as well as 5 awards; overall expenditure for grantmaking and operational activities in 2007 totaled EUR 4,9 million.
Priorities of the Foundation
The Foundation works proactively, encouraging long-term thinking, partnership between the public and private sectors, innovative approaches, and coalition building in addressing social problems. In its activity, the Foundation is guided by the principles of transparency, openness and accountability. Its finances are professionally audited and published in the Annual Report, together with a list of grants awarded and projects implemented throughout the year.
The basic method of Foundation’s operation is grantmaking. The Foundation also serves as a forum for activity, organizing conferences, debates and training seminars, publishing policy papers and reports, and initiating awareness campaigns. The Foundation encourages solidarity and generosity by offering administration of named funds and corporate funds to support initiatives that serve the public interest.
In 2009, the Foundation ran 14 domestic and international programs (10 grantmaking, and 4 operational programs).
- Equal Opportunities – the goal of the Equal Opportunities Program is to enable youth from low-income families to continue learning in secondary schools. The Foundation provides financial and technical support to local NGOs which establish local scholarship funds for children and youth in their area.
- Your Vote, Your Choice – the aim of the program is to make the citizens interested in the problems of their communities and encourage them to get involved in public life, including local elections, as well as build a sense of shared responsibility of both the voters and the elected authorities for the decisions made during the election.
- For Tolerance – this three-year program designed for years 2006–2008 aims to foster attitudes of openness and tolerance as well as weed out racial, ethnic and religious prejudice enrooted in culture and language.
- Watchdog Initiatives – the aim of the program carried out by the Foundation since 2004 is to promote mechanisms of public scrutiny over public institutions and institutions of public trust to help increase the standards and transparency of their operations.
- Legal Education – the Legal Education Program intends to contribute to increasing the efficiency of the judiciary system, improving citizens' access to legal assistance and educating them on how to exercise their rights.
- Civic Institutions – the aim of the program co-funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, is to support initiatives that involve citizens in public affairs and promote the attitudes of civic responsibility for the quality of Polish democracy.
- Community Initiatives Partnership – program, co-funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation, is aimed at supporting tripartite partnership projects designed by Polish and German organizations with organizations from Ukraine, Belarus or the Kaliningrad District aimed to foster experience sharing in solving specific community problems and enhance transboundary cooperation and solidarity between Poland, Germany, and the eastern neighbours of the European Union.
- Memoria – a joint program of Stefan Batory Foundation and German Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future launched in 2007 to support international volunteers projects aimed to protect European cultural heritage in borderland regions of Central and Eastern Europe. The goal of the program is to provide young people with practical and theoretical experience in protection and conservation of monuments and in the course of their collaborative effort enable them to learn different aspects of history and culture of their region.
- East-East. Partnership Beyond Borders – the Batory Foundation contributes to the development of democracy and public participation in this region and to dissemination of innovative community problem solving systems by coordinating the exchange of experience between NGOs and public institutions in Central and Eastern European and Central Asian countries and by adapting tested mechanisms and implementing joint initiatives. The Foundation offers grants to Polish NGOs which implement projects in partnership with other organizations in the region.
- Citizens in Action – the aim of the program is to increase public participation in Ukraine and Belarus by fostering various forms of civic self-organization at the local, regional and national level.
- Batory Foundation Debates – the Batory Foundation Debates are an attempt at establishing an independent meeting and discussion forum for politicians, professionals and journalists.
- Anti-Corruption Program – implemented jointly with the Helsinki Human Rights Foundation the Anti-Corruption Program aims at reducing the scale of the corruption problem in Poland by fostering attitude shifts amongst citizens with respect to everyday corruption, advocating new legislation to ensure transparency of decision-making and organizing permanent community pressure on the government to enforce anti-corruption laws and regulations.
- International Cooperation– the goal of the International Cooperation Program is to support EU policies towards our new neighbors in the East, strengthen civil society in Central and Eastern Europe and foster a good EU membership for Poland.
- Regional Drug and Alcohol Program – the aim of the program is to transfer the Polish experience in fighting alcohol, drug and other additions to Eastern European and Central Asian countries by promoting innovative addiction prevention and treatment methodologies and ways of ‘treating violence’, based on the self-help group concept.
Apart from running its own grantmaking programs, the Foundation also administers funds entrusted by companies and individuals. The donors advised funds are created on the basis of donation agreements between a company or an individual donor and the Foundation.
Marcin Król, social scientist, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences and Social Reintegration, University of Warsaw, Editor-in-Chief of “Res Publica Nowa”
Jan Krzysztof Bielecki – economist, President of the Bank Pekao SA, former Prime Minister
Bogdan Borusewicz – historian, Marshal of the Senate
Wojciech Fibak – businessman
Olga Krzyżanowska – MD, physician
Prof. Krzysztof Michalski – philosopher, Director of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna
Andrzej Olechowski – economist, Vice Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the City Handlowy Bank, former Minister of Foreign Affairs
Prof. Zbigniew Pełczyński – political scientist, Oxford University, UK
Bp Prof. Tadeusz Pieronek – Polish Bishops Conference
Prof. Andrzej Rapaczyński – lawyer, Columbia University, USA
Prof. Hanna Suchocka – lawyer, former Prime Minister, Ambassador of Poland to the Holy See (on leave)
Prof. Stanisław Wellisz – economist, Columbia University, USA
Among members of the Council there were also the late: Jerzy Turowicz ( Chair of the Council,1991–1999), Anna Radziwiłł (Chair of the Counc, 1999–2009), Prof. Bronisław Geremek, Prof. Leszek Kołakowski and father Jerzy Tischner
Aleksander Smolar, political scientist
Klaus Bachmann – political scientist, Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Nathalie Bolgert – manager of Community Assistance Fund at Polish-American Enterprise Fund
Szymon Gutkowski – Managing Director and co-owner of DBB advertising company
Irena Herbst – PhD, economist, Warsaw School of Economics
Prof. Jacek Kochanowicz – economist, University of Warsaw
Prof. Andrzej Rychard – sociologist, Polish Academy of Sciences
Prof. Andrzej Ziabicki – chemist, Polish Academy of Sciences
The work of the Batory Foundation is funded by donations of Polish and foreign private and public institutions, commercial organizations and individual donors, including taxpayers who donate us 1% of their personal income tax. Among Foundation’s institutional donors there are Open Society Institute, Ford Foundation, Trust for Civil Society in CEE, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Stiftung Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Fundacja AGORY, AGORA SA, Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture.
The foundation is also supported by business, including Nestle Polska, Commercial Union.