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Under the present Call for Proposals, RYCO intends to support and empower secondary schools to implement activities in the areas of regional youth cooperation, mobility and exchange; and enabling environment for regional youth cooperation.
RYCO strongly believes that the young people should be creating a culture of mobility, intercultural exchange and reconciliation. They should also be active contributors to democratic development, social and economic prosperity, and European integration in an increasingly open Western Balkans region. Contracting Parties in the Western Balkans should be providing proactive support to youth exchange and youth engagement within the Contracting Parties, and across the region.
Young people in the Western Balkans live with the pressures and influences of a social and political narrative that is distorted by prejudice, denial, revisionism and nationalism. Inherited, negative narratives form the basis for young people’s future life choices about career, residence, friendships and even the possibility of dialogue with other people; thus compounding negative narratives about ‘the other’. In this volatile context, there is a notable lack of opportunity for young people to move within the region for volunteering, formal and non-formal education and training, or simply to meet and share experiences of being peaceably together. This lack of opportunity is also compounded by legal obstacles.
The General Objective of this Call for Proposals is to support the process of reconciliation in the Western Balkans by providing young people with opportunities that create space for dialogue, mutual learning and increased understanding across communities and RYCO’s Contracting Parties, and to contribute to increasing capacities of schools to offer such opportunities.
In doing so, this Call directly relates to two Strategic Objectives as set out in RYCO’s 2019-2021 Strategic plan: (a) Delivering programmes: regional cooperation, mobility and exchange; and (b) Building demand: an enabling social and political environment. RYCO is committed to empowering young people and supporting stakeholders who have access and impact on them to be active contributors to reconciliation, democratic development, social and economic prosperity in the Western Balkans.
RYCO is established upon a belief that when young people are provided with an opportunity to learn, grow, and express their own voices, they and their whole communities benefit over the long term. Thus, this Call is specifically designed to provide decisive support to schools and actors within schools who are already contributing to this vision and are in need of assistance to continue or to expand on their work in this regard. Simultaneously, RYCO is publishing this Call to provide incentives and opportunities to those schools who have not yet had the chance to offer such programs to their students, and need support to do so.
[If you are a school teacher or administrator who shares this vision and you wish to contribute to it by providing a meaningful opportunity to your students, this Call is for you and was designed with you in mind.]
All projects funded under this Call for Proposals must promote and contribute to values upon which RYCO was established and the vision of societies where young people are creating a culture of mobility, intercultural exchange and reconciliation. All project organizers have to ensure that their activities do not feed into further division among youth, and instead contribute to mutual understanding, peace and social cohesion. Finally, every young person participating in projects supported by RYCO must be free to express themselves without fear from punishment or retribution for their beliefs. Every young person also must be protected from violence, bullying or belittlement, especially on the basis of their identities, origin, social standing or abilities.
This call has three Specific Objectives and applicants are required to identify which specific objective they are applying to. Most projects will likely contribute to two or all three, and we encourage applicants to consider how they can incorporate elements of contributions to all specific objectives through their project design, regardless of under which one they are applying. Applicants should choose the one they see as closest to the particular focus of their project.
[Please note that in the course of the assessment and selection process, we reserve the right to categorize your project under a specific objective other than the one you stated in your application, should we find it more closely related to your project design. This, however, will not impact our assessment in terms of decreasing the potential of your proposal for success in this call.]
The Specific Objectives under this call are presented below:
Specific Objective 1: Reconciliation, Intercultural dialogue and learning
RYCO believes that building true and enduring reconciliation involves a process that brings together individuals, groups and societies burdened by past or present conflicts and negative representations and perceptions of ‘the other’. Through shared experience, cooperation and ongoing exchange, new pathways can be built to reconcile people who would otherwise remain trapped in the past.
Through projects implemented under this strategic objective, we are looking to support initiatives where young people address their differences concerning the region’s past and challenge inherited narratives through guided processes in a safe environment; and where they engage in intercultural learning and dialogue with their peers from diverse communities within their Contracting Parties and across the Western Balkan region.
RYCO will particularly value projects that go beyond a simple encounter and instead build space for meaningful engagement of diverse groups of youth that would otherwise have no chance to meet. These projects should provide youth with opportunities to learn about each others’ communities and their perspectives through a respectful dialogue, thus allowing them to tackle prejudice and stereotypes, while contributing to increasing mutual understanding.
Specific Objective 2: Youth Participation
The development of social capital among young people and the facilitation of their awareness, ability and motivation to participate actively in society is a major RYCO commitment. RYCO believes that youth should be among the drivers of democratic development, social and economic prosperity, and European integration in an increasingly open Western Balkans region.
Projects implemented under this strategic objective should promote youth participation in social, political, cultural, educational and economic processes that have the potential to improve the lives of youth, their communities and the region as a whole. We are looking to support projects that build capacities of youth and create platforms for them to be active contributors to processes in their schools, communities and societies.
We are especially interested in supporting projects that amplify youth voices, allow them to openly discuss their grievances and search for common ground and issues that young people share across communities and RYCO’s Contracting Parties. We encourage applicants to engage their students beyond the role of participants and invite or allow them to actively contribute to all stages of the project, including project design. We welcome ideas that build sustainable platforms and opportunities for youth participation which will outlast the implementation of their specific projects.
Specific Objective 3: Strengthening Capacities of Secondary Schools
RYCO believes that no person or organization can bring meaningful social change alone or instantly. This is why we see great value in investing in individuals, organizations and institutions who empower youth and support them to become contributors in making their societies more peaceful, open and prosperous.
Through projects relating to this strategic objective, we wish to support individuals and schools in becoming better equipped to play key roles in accompanying and guiding young people in the processes of intercultural dialogue and learning, towards meaningful participation in reconciliation and social, political, cultural, educational and economic processes in and beyond their communities. We are looking to support projects where teachers, administrators and other actors within schools conduct activities that support their own learning and strengthen their own capacities to be even better suited to serve their students in achieving the aforementioned objectives.
RYCO will be particularly keen on supporting projects that focus on school to school transfer of knowledge, whether it is thematic knowledge in the areas of RYCO’s mandate, know-how in non-formal education methodologies, valuable experience in supporting student participation, or managerial and administrative expertise needed for organizing youth exchange projects. Applicants are welcome to include where relevant the engagement of external experts to complement their own knowledge.
RYCO will support projects built upon a partnership, with at least one school partner from WB 6 (please check the Guidelines).
The overall financial envelope for this call is EUR 360.000.