1. Short summary of project idea
“Inspire Bulgaria” aims to provide Bulgarian High School students with micro-funds, mentorship and leadership training to help them implement low-cost social engagement projects in their respective communities. Participation in the program will empower young people to effectively plan and implement their ideas using different leadership and project management approaches. Participation in all phases of the program (mentorship, training and project implementation) will help young people acquire leadership skills and confidence in their ability to contribute and influence positive change, in addition to motivating them to contribute to the society and involve and inspire their peers to be active citizens themselves, too.
2. The issue/problem the project addresses
For historic, economic and cultural reasons Bulgaria is a country with sharp problems concerning young people’s lack of engagement in all sectors of the public life. Many communistic values which belittle the importance of the individual’s participation in the processes of social transformation are ingrained in the mindset of Bulgarian adults and consequently transmitted to young people. The overall lack of resources and social support has created apathy, lack of interest and a sense of powerlessness in young people which consequently lead to mass substance abuse, early engagement in sexual activity, dropping out from school, unhealthy lifestyles and more. A huge number of young talented Bulgarians decide to study abroad and often never come back because of the dominant opinion that there are hardly any opportunities for Bulgarians, which is indeed proved by the huge percentage of youth unemployment in the country.
3.The method for addressing the issue
Through their active participation young people transform old norms and create new values. Youth participation, however, results not only in social innovation, but also in the empowerment and self-realization of personality. Through their inclusion in the making of social progress and taking agency over their processes of self-development young people are given the power to be change makers.
Inspire Bulgaria wants to contribute to the empowerment of young people in two distinct ways:
– supporting youth leadership through peer mentorship, leadership and project-management training of youth, and giving access to micro-funds to implement projects in the community
– promotion of good practices, sharing of useful youth-friendly resources to encourage youth participation, youth social entrepreneurship and community service to create interest in young people who might not otherwise decide to involve themselves.
Our work on the project has already started with the creation of a website in progress. Young people will be able to apply with their project ideas online filling a very accessible questionnaire which will ask them to shortly describe their project objectives, target groups, plan for action, need of funding and follow up ideas. After their proposal is received by the project organizers they will be assigned a peer mentor (young person with leadership experience) who will work with them closely both supporting the implementation of the project, and the overall growth of the young person even after the implementation of the idea. After completion of the projects participants will have to send us a report on the results achieved and the learning process undergone. Subsequently, youngsters will partake in 3-day Leadership Academies aiming to further developing understanding and skills in leadership, project management and self-development. Upon completion of the training they will be encouraged to continue expanding their projects (or work on new ideas) and to become peer-mentors themselves.
4. Determining project’s success (measuring impact)
The project’s success will be determined through identifying:
– Quality of promotion and dissemination of results- measured through the number of Facebook likes of the project’s group, website visits, appearance in other youth-related online and offline platforms, newspapers; distribution of flyers; presentations in schools.
– Accessibility of the application process- determined through a survey posted on the website and feedback of participants
– Number of successfully implemented projects by youth- we hope to work with and help with the implementation of the ideas of at least 20 young people in the first 6 months of the program.
– Quality of the mentorship- determined through the evaluation of feedback received from the participants
– Quality of the training provided at the Leadership Academy- determined through the evaluation of the feedback forms which will be distributed to the participants on the last day of the program
– Overall satisfaction of everyone involved in the program (peer-mentors, young project organizers, training leaders)- information will be gathered through series of conversations, filling of feedback surveys and the possible continuation of the mentors’ and participants’ involvement in the program.
– Inclusion of peers and impact on the community.
5. Problems we anticipate facing
- Not enough support from parents and teachers due to lack of awareness of the benefits of engagement in community service, lack of trust in the program, fears, etc.
- Not enough interest in the beginning due to prevalent prejudices and lack of initiative
- Not enough communication with mentors due to lack of time management skills
- Difficulties in arranging frequent communication between parties
- Lack of financial stability of the project and a lot of effort put into fundraising and applying for funds rather than working with the target group