Centers for Civic Engagement (CCEs): Facilitating Democratic Dialogue
The USAID Civil Society Engagement Program provides financial and programmatic assistance to the Network of Centers for Civic Engagement (NCCE).
In late 2011, USAID supported the establishment of 10 Centers for Civic Engagement throughout Georgia. Located primarily in regional capitals, centers offer neutral spaces for citizens to engage in open debate on issues of public concern. Centers promote democratic values by being open to any individual or group (civil society organizations, media, academia, business, political parties, professional unions and other) regardless of political or social affiliations, in case if they respect principles of open and democratic dialogue and refrain from discrimination. Additionally, CCEs organize events promoting dialogue between citizens and government, provide public access to internet and library resources, and support civic education and activism.
Each CCE offers a meeting room suitable for up to 70 persons, a smaller meeting room for 10-15 persons, five public access computers connected to the internet, a resource library on governance and democracy, and an administrative office for the two-person staff. Meeting rooms can be booked through NCCE website (www.ncce.ge).
Thanks to increased public trust and respect, the Network of Centers for Civic Engagement engaged more than 650,000 citizens in open events. During 2012-2020 Centers hosted and organized over 32,000 public meetings which helped increase public awareness and engagement in democratic reforms, election processes, fighting disinformation, gender equality, integration of ethnic and other minorities, and other important social issues.
Centers offer unique services and resources which cannot be obtained otherwise in vast majority of Georgian regions. According to a survey, 40-50% of users would not be able to attend/carry out civic engagement and educational events and activities without NCCE’s support.
To diversity sources of income and ensure financial sustainability the Centers introduced fee-based services, including: renting out conference rooms, planning and organizing events, catering services, etc. However, services are free for non-governmental organizations, media, local government representatives, civic activists and initiative groups in each respective region.
The USAID Civil Society Engagement Program supports daily operation of the Network of Centers for Civic Engagement, helps them diversify funding resources and turn into sustainable and self-sufficient community-based organizations. For this purpose, the NCCE staff undergoes training, consultancy and other type of support.