The people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania unite around shared ecological concerns. For decades they have acted together in their quest to protect the environment and the resources upon which their nations depend. Involvement in community environmental organizations provides opportunities to develop the leadership and management skills critical to nation-building.

Environmental protection is one of the unifying themes for public participation and community development. These common interests allow young and old, people of different political outlooks, intellectuals and ordinary citizens, to discover the potential of organized communities to improve themselves.

ECOLOGIA’s Baltic Mini-Grant Program has been a part of that process since 1993. ECOLOGIA grants between $100 and $1000 enabled community groups to plan and implement their own projects. They allowed new leaders to emerge. Environmental groups are encouraged to organize, to achieve visible short-term results, to strengthen voluntarism, and to build on their success by developing links to other sectors of their societies. Many of these projects involve the public in environmental decision-making and actions, increasing awareness and strengthening trust and cooperation.

Since 1993, the Baltic Mini-Grant Program has provided a total of $134,388. in direct aid, supporting 215 separate projects (60 in Estonia, 75 in Latvia, 80 in Lithuania). Matching funds overall add up to 39% of the total spent on projects (which is $220,775 over the eight year period). These numbers indicate that the Baltic Mini-Grant Program has enabled recipients to obtain support from others in their communities, and that though each grant is relatively small, the cumulative impact is significant.

This webpage contains descriptions of each Baltic Mini-Grant Project so far. We hope that you will enjoy seeing the many initiatives, groups, and places which have used Mini-Grants to improve the environment and strengthen their communities.

The Mini-Grant Mechanism
and Its Results

How Grants Are Made

In each country, its own Advisory Board is responsible for distributing information, establishing deadlines, and deciding which projects will receive funding. Grant applications are straightforward and non-bureaucratic; they are written in the language of the applicant’s choice. Groups receiving support do not have to be officially registered. Indeed, the Mini-Grant Program was designed to encourage people to organize their own initiatives, by providing money and project development advice.

Long-Term Impacts Benefit Individuals,
Groups and Regions

By participating in a community improvement project, people become more optimistic that they also can make a difference and work to improve their societies. Coverage in local media, and publicity for achievements, strengthens the ties between community members and organizations. Local residents feel ownership of a project which reflects their own values and interests, and are more likely to care for it in the future.

Funded groups develop a record of accomplishments which they can use to document their ability to implement other projects. Increased visibility of environmental activity encourages grants from other sources, including municipalities, regional forest districts, national ministries, and local businesses.

Members of each country’s Advisory Board gain experience in the executive and administrative levels of the grant-making process: evaluating applications, working with grantees, disbursing and accounting for funds, and collecting final reports.

Leadership Training

The WWF-International Baltic Scholarship Programme, based in Riga, provided “leadership training grants” to ECOLOGIA in 1999. Grant recipients were project leaders who worked under the supervision of a Baltic Mini-Grant Advisory Board member to develop certain leadership skills while directing their projects. Managing budgets, organizing volunteers, finding and working with press and media contacts, expanding membership and delegating responsibility were some of these leadership skills.

Matching Funds and In-kind Support

“Matching funds” refers to money contributed to a project from different sources. A common pattern with the Baltic Mini-Grants has been that the initial Mini-Grant gives the group a starting base, and legitimacy, from which it can proceed to gather additional support. A number of projects which were started with Mini-Grants have been able to continue and expand, supported by other sources of funding, in subsequent years.

“In-kind support” refers to non-cash donations, which enable a project to occur. For example, when a municipality provides trucks to haul away waste collected by volunteers, or a local cement company provides the cement for a building project, free of charge. This is a very significant indication of community support for a project. Most Mini-Grant projects receive this type of support, but relatively few project leaders document it in final written reports, or estimate a price value.

Funding Totals, Baltic Mini-Grant Program,
Years One – Eight
(1993 – 2002)

  ECOLOGIA  Matching Funds Matching
(percent of total)
60 Estonian Projects $37,111. $28,623. 44% $65,734.
75 Latvian Projects $45,454. $24,022. 35% $69,476.
80 Lithuanian Projects $52,123. $33,442. 39% $85,565.
All Baltic Projects $134,688. $86,087. 39% $220,775.


Looking Toward the Future

The Moriah Fund in Washington DC supports ECOLOGIA’s Baltic Mini-Grant Program, as it has for the nine years since its inception. As we move into the 21st century, ECOLOGIA is working to develop philanthropy and increased cooperation between public and private, Baltic and American participants, to further broaden the base of support.