The program supports community foundations in twelve Romanian cities to create and manage a local fund for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education. Its purpose is to encourage innovative ideas that can make sciences more attractive for secondary education students and that can be applied with support from the community.
There is an increasingly animated debate in Romania about the performance and organizational culture in our schools. Parents, NGOs, companies and other stakeholders are more and more involved and willing to contribute to change. What is missing, though, is a wider framework where everyone concerned could organize their offering and efforts.
On the one hand, schools do not have the necessary mechanisms to use the resources available around them, while small NGOs or initiative groups have limited access to resources. Thus, Community Foundations have an opportunity to focus and organize local resources around education, even more so as, over the past years, they evolved into assuming an important role in the communities they serve and created a national movement animated by a common vision.
In 2014, RAF ran a successful pilot project together with the community foundations in four cities (Bucharest, Cluj, Iași and Sibiu), to test the hypothesis that the Community Foundations could be the most suitable “intermediary” to develop a local grant program for small STEM education projects. Starting with January 2016, the program expanded nationally and is now open for all Community Foundations.
Each “Științescu Fund” is designed by each Community Foundation together and in agreement with local partners while grants are awarded to educators, NGOs and students for innovative local initiatives in science education. Each Community Foundation can organize three editions of Științescu Fund.
Community foundations mobilize financial resources from individual donors, companies, NGOs, authorities or other institutions/organizations, mainly locally, while RAF matches these funds 1:1, up to a maximum amount per edition (between 10,000 and 15,000 dollars).
The program has the following strategic objectives:
- To provide teachers and science aficionados (from formal and informal education backgrounds) with the resources to create projects that make sciences more attractive and interesting for students.
- To encourage individual philanthropy and coagulate a local community of supporters and active people to focus on a topic of such great importance as education.