Innovation and Challenge Grants Program Winners
In January, the USAID Civil Society Engagement Program selected the winners of its Innovation and Challenge Grants Program. All the selected projects aim to tackle issues of public concern through citizen mobilization and advocacy.
1. Develop professional rehabilitation services for people with autism
In Georgia, people with autism are left without essential support services once they turn 18. Because of this they are often unable to socialize into adulthood and get jobs. The NGO Collegium of Independent Education Consultants will develop a professional rehabilitation service model for adults with autism and advocate for its adoption.
2. Advocate for a cleaner air in Poti
Poti has long suffered from air pollution problems due to its industrial zone and shipping activities. Lab tests of children living near the industrial area revealed high levels of lead and heavy metals in their blood. To focus public and government attention on this issue, the Human Rights and Social Justice Research Center will conduct an intensive awareness-raising campaign and mobilize local communities to urge the government to effectively address the issue.
3. Include the elderly population in public processes
In Georgia, elderly citizens do not have spaces or opportunities for socialization, participation in public processes, realization of their skills, or continued education. The NGO Civic Initiative (Knowledge Café) will pilot an elderly-orientated program in Sighnaghi municipality (Kakheti) and advocate for the adoption of this program by the municipality.
4. Protect the Nature and Cultural Heritage of the Truso Valley
The Truso Valley (Kazbegi municipality) is rich in cultural and historical heritage. However, following the government’s decision in 2020 to lift a moratorium on the sale and registration of land in this valley, much of the land has been appropriated and many monuments damaged. The Kazbegi-based organization Lomeki will work to save the valley’s landscape and historical heritage by highlighting its significance, engaging professionals and communities, and advocating the government to enforce the law on Truso’s Protected Landscape, which was enacted in 2021 to effectively manage and protect the valley.
5. Increase youth engagement in political processes in Kvemo Kartli
According to a 2021 public opinion poll, 88% of young people in Kvemo Kartli do not participate in civic activities; 54% of those surveyed were also not interested in politics, and 26% indicated they felt they had no influence over decision-making at the local level. NGO New Thinking Institute will engage local youth in public processes through mobilizing, educating, and supporting young activists to carry out civic initiatives.
6. Empower parents to effectively advocate for their children’s education
Parents of school-aged children in Georgia do not have effective mechanisms to participate in the decisions related to their children’s education. The NGO Parents for Education will build and empower a network of parents throughout the country to engage them in decision-making and contribute to the creation of a child-oriented school environment.
7. Advocate for better transport conditions in Vashlijvari
The transportation infrastructure in Tbilisi’s Vashlijvari district has not kept pace with its growing population in recent years, leaving many of its residents unable to effectively utilize the transport system. A lack of pedestrian crossings, overcrowded and erratically arriving buses, and sidewalks in poor condition have all led to a lower quality of life for locals. Local activist group Vashlijvari is My Neighborhood will draw attention to the problem through community mobilization, creative campaigns, and advocacy efforts.
8. Support the transformation and democratization of the cultural sector in Georgia
Recent policy decisions, outdated legislation, and a general lack of awareness of modern management principles has left Georgia’s cultural sector in a fragile state. The NGO Stage for Changes will analyze modern methods and practices of management for the cultural sector and cooperate with workers to introduce these practices as well as identify other pressing issues in the sector.
The selected grantees will begin their projects in February 2023.