June/July 1995 Issue #34

ECOLOGIA's Baltic Mini-Grant Program

All of the small-scale Baltic projects described in this issue were financed through ECOLOGIA's Baltic Environmental Mini-Grant Program. This program is financed in its turn by The Moriah Fund, a private American foundation. Since its inception in 1993, the goal of the Baltic Mini-Grant has been to strengthen the NGO environmental movement in the three Baltic nations, through providing small ($250 - $750) grants to NGOs to pursue specific projects of their own design. The program is now in its third year.

In each nation (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) an Advisory Committee publicizes the availability of the grants in the languages of each country, holds workshops to teach interested environmentalists how to design and write a project proposal and draw up a budget, and makes recommendations on the most suitable projects to be funded each year. Recommendations are then reviewed by ECOLOGIA's Baltic Programs Office in Vilnius, Lithuania. Recipients submit an interim and a final report, both of which include documentation of their activities and a budget statement. Recipients also inform ECOLOGIA of matching funds their projects receive.

The Mini-Grant projects have served to revitalize some already established groups (by giving them an incentive to focus on an achievable, visible project). Some well- established groups operating larger projects with other sources of money, have sought out newer or less well financed groups in rural locations, and notified them and encouraged them to apply for Mini-Grants. This has been especially true in Latvia. Although the population of Riga, the capital city, is more than half that of the entire country, the second year's Mini-Grant projects were almost entirely from first-time grantees, newly formed groups in rural areas or in smaller cities.

Most importantly, these small project grants have encouraged new NGOs and innovative projects. Groups without previous grant experience are more likely to apply for, and to receive, a small amount of money targeted for a specific attainable project, than a large amount of money for a vague or overly ambitious project.

ECOLOGIA's Mini-Grant program is only available for the Baltic nations, but other organizations fund similar programs providing small project grants to NGOs in other parts of the world.

For more information, and for application guidelines, and addresses of local Advisory Committees, please contact ECOLOGIA's Baltic Programs Office in Vilnius.

What Can Be Done With Small Grants? Some Examples of NGO Projects

"Green Wall":
teachers and schoolchildren plant trees and shrubs betweeen their schoolhouse and a busy road, Harjumaa, Estonia $500
Monthly ecological information supplement
published in regional newspaper, Daugavpils, Latvia $100 Dune Action in Talsi Region - Clean-up activities involving school children, club members and volunteers, Latvia $660
"Nature's Tale" Children's Environmental Poster Competition:
In the first year, over 1500 children entered the contest; over 3,000 people visited the final exhibition of award-winning posters; Vilnius Lithuania: $475
Ecotour Along Dubysa River:
water monitoring and campaign to publicize pollution and encourage construction of a waster water treatment plant in Siauliai, Lithuania $647
Ecology Circles:
city children study bioindicators and then do field work in a national park; Tallinn Estonia $518
Sustainable Development
training seminar for Latvian NGO members, Riga Latvia, $500
Oak Forest Planting
in conjunction with teaching about traditional Lithuanian nature religion beliefs, customs and crafts, Vilnius Lithuania, $498
Green Library for Latvia:
books on ecology were taken to small towns outside Riga; lectures and contests for school children were provided in those towns; $410
Returning of the Pond Turtle:
protection of the habitat and public information about the endangered species Emys orbicularis, Kaunas Lithuania $700
Sixty-three projects have been funded by ECOLOGIA's Baltic Mini-Grant Program during its first two years.
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