A few months ago I was going to the Black sea coast, travelling on a bus (no hitchhiking this time!) just after receiving a 1.000$ scholarship from the 2iFoundation which supports young Bulgarian leaders who are studying abroad. Previously, I was very moved by the kind efforts of Petyo Angelov (May his soul rest in peace!)- a talented writer and polyglot who knew over 30 languages who graduated my High School and also gave scholarship to distinguished students. These and other situations in which I have received support to learn, travel and create motivated me to seek ways to continue having an impact and giving back to the community. Despite not being in charge of the organization I started years ago (which is now in the hands of my wonderful friends) since living the “American dream” cast in the serene state of Vermont.
The proposal that you will see below is the idea I came up with back then and which I reminded myself a couple of days ago not being able to think about much else since then.The provided information is now submitted to MiddStart (the Middlebury college crowd-funding platform) and hopefully will be accepted and funded!
Nevertheless, I need a lot of serious feedback from both Bulgarians and foreigners, and I will appreciate any input! Please, comment below so that we can build dialogue! Thank you!
Inspire Bulgaria will be a social fund providing financial support to Bulgarian High School and University students who have ideas for low-budget projects that will benefit both themselves and the society (e.g. fundraisers, community service initiatives, eco actions, awareness campaigns, etc.)
The funding opportunities will be promoted in High Schools and through various partnering NGOs, so that more young people can learn about it. The application process will be accessible to young people and open throughout the year.
In addition to the financial support project organizers will receive mentorship and advice how to promote their projects around peers, improve their leadership skills and the quality of their projects, etc. Priority will be given to ideas that include participation of peers and have impact on the society. In the summer time a day-long event will be organized to receive feedback, create a sense of community among the young leaders, work in groups and focus on different topics which will further on develop understanding and skills.
The results of the funded initiatives will be disseminated through their appearing in the Facebook group of the project. A simple website will be created to promote the project and give access to valuable and easy to read articles connected to project planning, funding and implementation.
The funding received by MiddStart will be used to aid these youth projects and initiatives and create a web platform.
What is the inspiration for your project?
When I was in 9th grade I started a youth charity and volunteering organization in my High School. Our first initiatives were weekly events in orphanages and homes for elderly people. In addition, we organized a lot of street events and campaigns to raise awareness towards the benefits of volunteering, positivism, doing Good.
Whenever I see or take part in something new that engages me, I try to master it and spread it so that it reaches and benefits as many people as possible. When I went to my first youth exchange (a 10-day informal education and volunteering project in another country with participants from several European countries), I was determined to organize a project like that myself so that my friends and fellow volunteers could participate, too. A year later my organization received funding from the European Union to implement the project I created and ever since we have been partnering and initiating such projects all around Europe, including hundreds of young people.
Most of the local projects I have organized have been either low-budget or not financed at all. This was able due to the fact I have always used alternative ways to provide what we had needed. For example, when we were visiting institutions for disadvantaged people I always contacted local companies that either sell or produce sweets, children’s books, balloons, etc. and asked them to donate some. For the tea actions we organized during the winter season when we handed free tea to strangers on the streets of Sofia and talked with them about volunteering, I had engaged several shops and small companies to give us free tea, sugar, electric kettles and print leaflets. I found out that this is a good strategy since many people would like to donate things they make or have rather than money. While such an approach might seem too complicated, it was indeed inclusive: so many people participated in some way for the implementation of this otherwise small project!
While this approach worked great for my organization, I realize that not every young person may receive the same support or have the confidence to reach out and ask for it. I want to give the chance to any young person who has an idea of some sort to receive both financial and moral support to do it while not being affiliated to an organization and having full control over the planning and implementation of his/her project and possibly- follow up.
Being able to create something, make mistakes, face challenges, celebrate small triumphs, grow as a leader and as an individual has transformed me so much! I have seen so many of my peers who became active contributors to the organization I started evolve and grow and strive to learn, make a change and fulfill their potential and I am truly committed to keep trying to inspire!
Converted in Bulgarian Leva this sum will be able to cover the costs for a great number of low-cost student initiatives. If we estimate the average cost of a student project to be about 35$ which is quite reasonable, then with that sum we can fund about 55 projects!