About us

Programs completed

Regional Alcohol and Drug Program

The aim of the programme was to promote and develop cooperation and exchange of experience in the field of alcoholism and drug addiction treatment in the countries of Eastern Europe and the former USSR.

Public Integrity

continuation of the Against Corruption program. The goal of the program was to increase transparency and integrity in public life and to promote open, accountable governance.

Open Europe

supported initiatives promoting an active and friendly Polish and European Union policy towards our Eastern neighbours.

Legal counselling

The fight against corruption is most likely to be compromised by the sense of helplessness among citizens who find themselves exposed to it. The Foundation’s experts consult more than 100 corruption-related cases a year. We approach regulators and audit institutions asking them to investigate specific cases and on occasion we take part in the capacity of observers in court hearings of corruption cases. Legal advice is also provided through Legal Clinics at the universities which we support in the framework of our Legal Education Program.

Out of 654 cases people turned to us with in the years 2000–2006, in 120 we intervened in superior institutions, supervisory and controlling institutions, in 30 we appealed to the prosecutor’s office, and in 15 we participated as court observers.

Medical Task Force

According to our surveys (the 2001 Corruption Barometer) physicians are the most corrupt professional group in Poland. The publication of a report on that and the media coverage of crime in healthcare have broken the conspiracy of silence around bribery in the medical community and have helped put the matter on the agenda of conferences and discussion sessions organized by medical associations.

In 2001 Medical Task Force was formed at the Foundation with an aim to defend high ethical standards of the profession and fight corruption in public health care. The Group undertakes initiatives that might contribute to eradication of bribes in health care. It develops and presents to the public opinion and health ministry projects designed to eradicate malpractice and improve access to medical services, such as a project of regulations concerning creation of publicly available waiting lists for the rationed medical services, or a checklist that enables to evaluate legislative changes in health care laws with respect to corruption threats. It initiates public discussions on subjects important for the medical community such as systems of managing health service or developing objective criteria for the fair evaluation of the candidates for managerial posts, especially the ward heads in clinics and hospitals. The Group opines also the legal acts developed by the Health Ministry: the Act of health care services financed by public money or Act on the Office of Registry of Drugs and Medical Products (a counterpart of Food&Drug Administration).

Members of the Medical Task Force:

Anna Arwaniti-Sierańska (journalist), dr Marek Balicki (on leave), dr Wiktor Górecki, dr Janusz Halik, Zbigniew Jadczak (National Health Fund), Ewelina Janota, dr Piotr Kasztelowicz, dr Adam Kozierkiewicz, Olga Krzyżanowska, dr Marek Kulerski, dr Grzegorz Luboiński, Maryla Nowicka (Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights), dr Jarosław Pinkas (on leave due to nomination to the public position), dr Wojciech Puzyna, Elżbieta Radziszewska (Civic Platform), Jacek Wojciechowicz (World Bank).

Monitoring local election campaign finances

Transparency in financing political parties and electoral campaigns is the key to limiting political corruption. When receiving – often secretly – significant donations from pressure groups or corporations, parties and candidates for public offices make commitments they fulfil while in office by passing legislation or taking decisions favoring the donors at the expense of society. Though Poland has a relatively stringent campaign finance law in effect since 2000, the majority of opinions expressed through public discourse indicate this law is being flouted. Suggestions are being made to radically amend the law and return to solutions criticized in the late 1990s, e.g. permitting the financing of political activity by business and interest groups.

In June 2006, we initiated the Monitoring local elections campaign finances project, which aims to place under social control financing sources and expenditures by electoral committees supporting candidates in the upcoming local government elections. Monitoring included tracing sources of electoral spending by candidates for voits, mayors and presidents, especially with respect to any use of public funds for this purpose as well as an analysis of donations and expenditures for media campaigns, propaganda materials and electoral rallies.

22 local NGOs participated in the project. In addition to observing electoral campaigns, monitoring teams independently prepared and publicly presented results in their communities localities. A conference will be organized at the culmination of the project in spring 2007 to present the best local reports along with a catalogue of conclusions and recommendations concerning the entire process of electing local authorities.

Electoral campaign financing

The manner of financing the activity of political parties is key to curb the political corruption. By accepting – often covertly – significant gifts from pressure groups or companies, parties become indebted to their donors and they pay off their debts later in the Parliament or in office, adopting laws or making decisions that favor donors at the expense of the society. Although since 2000 a rather restrictive election campaign financing law has been in effect in Poland, the dominant opinion is that this law is being violated. Propositions are made to change the existing law radically and return to the once criticized solutions from 1990s, which allowed for example for financing the political parties by business and interest groups.

In 2005-2006 we conducted first monitoring of finances of presidential election campaign in Poland. A report from this monitoring, published in 2006, showed an urgent need to amend the act on election of the President of Polish Republic. In the effect, together with the Institute of Public Affairs we decided to undertake activities aimed to amend the electoral campaign finance law. In our opinion the current regulations of presidential election campaign finances are highly inefficient and full of loopholes that easily allow to conceal irregularities in finances of electoral committees. Also the state supervision of these finances is insufficient.

Monitoring presidential election campaign finance 2005-2006

The aim of the monitoring was to scrutinize the sources of income and expenses of the electoral committees of the candidates running for the office of the President of Polish Republic in 2005. In the framework of the project we analysed substantial donations and small gifts collected in public canvassing by the election committees as well as their expenses for promotion, ads, media campaign, electoral meetings and picnics and other election-related activities. After the election we checked the financial reports submitted by electoral committees to the State Electoral Commission.

The monitoring in form of participatory observation was performed by the Foundation in cooperation with Institute of Public Affairs and 25 local teams of trained volunteers who monitored local media campaign and electoral meetings of the candidates. In May 2006, the project was summed up with a conference presenting the report from the monitoring (see: Presidential Elections 2005 — Monitoring of Electoral Campaign Expenses English summary [PDF 66 KB]).

Projects completed:

Friendly EU Border
activities aimed at abolishing visas between the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia, as well as reducing difficulties in crossing EU external borders.

Monitoring of Elections in Ukraine, EaP Countries and Russia
support for, and the organisation of, monitoring missions during elections in Eastern Partnership countries and Russia.

Both independently and in collaboration with non-governmental organisations in the EU, we undertake activities aimed at organising and promoting independent election monitoring missions in Eastern Partnership countries and Russia. We support local electoral monitoring organisations, disseminate the results of independent observations, recruit observers and arrange observation missions.

Civic monitoring of campaign finances in Moldova during the parliamentary elections, 2014
International Civic Observation Mission for Parliamentary Election in Ukraine, 2012

We take part in the activities of the European Platform for Democratic Elections established in Warsaw during a meeting of 13 organisations that observe elections in Eastern Partnership countries and in Russia.

supported initiatives aimed to mobilize volunteers from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia and Germany to work together to preserve common cultural heritage in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. A program funded by Remembrance, Responsibility and Future Foundation.

Civic Initiatives in Belarus and Ukraine
supported non-governmental organizations in Belarus and Ukraine engaged in building and developing civil society in those countries.

Rainbow Academy
grants for organizations that run integration, educational and art therapy programs to prevent social exclusion of handicapped children.

Civic Coalitions
grants for strengthening NGOs coalitions in Visegrad countries that undertake efforts to articulate civil society interests.

Program initiated and co-funded by the Stefan Batory Foundation and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The program aims at strengthening NGOs coalitions in Visegrad countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) that undertake efforts to articulate civil society interests on the basis of broad citizen involvement and to influence public policy for the common good.

Voicing an opinion and articulating an interest is a prerequisite of participatory democracy. The voice of civil society adds an essential layer of checks and balances into the democratic system, and helps to ensure that different views are heard. NGOs – as groups of citizens – are good vehicle for influencing public policy. Their power may grow through forming coalitions which may represent an array of civil society interests and bring together like-minded organizations to build a power base that works to influence social change of a mutual concern. A well-organized, broad based coalition can be successful in advocating for policy change, increasing public knowledge, creating a network and developing innovative solutions to complex problems.

By a coalition we understand a group of organizations united around a common issue and clear goal(s) and working together to advance specific common objectives using the power of joint action. Coalitions may operate in the form of alliances, associations, federations, networks, platforms, umbrella organizations, unions of associations, working groups and the like.

We aim our grants as the means to enhance the resources and organizational capacity of the coalitions, increase professionalism and legitimacy of their operations, build their credibility within the third sector and vis a vis public institutions, and help them make civil society voice heard in the public sphere. We hope our grants will contribute to the promotion of organizational culture in the coalitions based on the principles of partnership, accountability and shared responsibility among stakeholders and will stimulate joint advocacy efforts at national and also at the European level.

Community Initiatives Partnership
supported trilateral cooperation projects implemented by NGOs from Poland and Germany and from Ukraine, Belarus and the Kaliningrad District.

Tripatrite cooperation program addressed to non-governmental organizations from Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Kaliningrad District run and co-funded with Robert Bosch Foundation. Our partner in Ukraine is PAUCI Foundation from Kyiv.

Along with Poland’s accession to the European Union, Ukraine, Belarus and Kaliningrad District became immediate neighbours of European Union. Each of these countries is different, however, the development of independent non-governmental sector is an essential element of building civil society for each one of them. NGOs play also a key role in building individual, interpersonal transborder relations. Joint initiatives of NGOs from neighbouring countries help to increase mutual understanding, share experience and undertake cross-border activities. By offering organizations the opportunity to carry out joint projects, the Foundation would like to strengthen solidarity between Poland, Germany and the eastern neighbours of EU, assist in developing good neighbouring relations and facilitate initiatives to resolve problems faced by the countries of this region.

The program aims to:

  • support citizens engagement in local and regional community initiatives in Ukraine, Belarus and Kaliningrad District
  • integrate these initiatives into transboundary Polish-German cooperation networks and /or expand the cooperation of Polish, Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian to include German partners
  • enhance interest in mutual cooperation and develop long-term partnerships

Grants are made for trilateral projects carried out by NGOs from Poland, Germany and Ukraine, Belarus or the Kaliningrad District registered within their respective countries. The projects submitted for funding may concern various aspects of social life provided they correspond to specific needs of a given local community or target group from Belarus, Kaliningrad District or Ukraine and have clearly delineated goals and specifically formulated results. Furthermore, the projects should contribute to the establishment of long-term tripartite partnerships among participant organizations.In 2009 we provided grants for total amount of EUR 185 360 to 12 Polish and 2 Ukrainian organisations running projects of trilateral cooperation.

Legal Education
supported initiatives that increase citizens’ access to legal assistance and justice.

The Legal Education Program supports initiatives that improve citizens’ access to justice and legal aid. We assist organizations that provide specialized counsel to citizens, especially to the the most vulnerable or socially discriminated groups. Since 2007 we direct our support to organizations that expand their activity beyond counseling and use legal instruments to defend citizens rights against all forms of abuse of power by the authorities as well as those that undertake efforts to increase citizens’ access to legal aid and the efficiency of the judiciary system.

Grants are offered in one grantmaking scheme:

  • Law in Public Interest – grants for non-governmental organizations active in the sphere of law

In a grant competition we support lawyers’ NGOs which conduct or intend to conduct systematic activities aimed to increase access to legal aid and justice, curtail discriminatory regulations and practices in Polish legislation, and increase transparency and efficiency of the justice system.

We offer grants to organizations which statutory goals included any of the above goals, which have attorneys as their members or employ or work on an ongoing basis with law school graduates.

Grants may be obtained for activities concerning direct legal aid for citizens as well as for activities advocating systemic changes in the Polish system of legal aid and functioning of the justice system, such as:

  • professional (provided by lawyers) legal aid for citizens, including assistance with various legal procedures and handling strategic litigation in cases important to citizens and of a precedential nature. In particular, we are interested in the legal aid and strategic litigation focusing on cases of discrimination;

  • developing and promoting good practices that improve functioning of judicial system (analysis, development, presentation and implementation of proposed changes), developing and disseminating proposed legal amendments concerning the justice system as well as the legal aid systems (e.g. expert analyses, legislative and organizational propositions);

  • projects which analyze new legal institutions or new organizational solutions concerning access to justice and justice system functioning; we want to subject the introduced reforms to a competent and independent analysis from the public interest point of view.

In 2009 we provided grants To 5 organisations out of 114 which applied for financing their projects. The total amount of grants delivered in 2009 was PLN 247 175.

Project completed:
  • Citizens Advice Bureaus – grants for non-governmental organizations that provide information and free legal counsel services for citizens

Until 2009 we provided grants to legal counselling services managed by NGOs affiliated in the Union of Citizens’ Advice Bureaus where trained counsellors provide free consultation on criminal, civil and labour law, as well as on the rights of refugees, consumer and patient rights. 100 staff and volunteers in 31 Citizens’ Advice Bureaus in various Polish cities provided almost 30,000 individual consultations each year.

Bureaus acted on the basis of harmonized standards of accessibility, confidentiality, professionalism and independence. Their counsellors participated in a cycle of trainings run by professional lawyers.

Although we do not award Citizens’ Advice Bureaus with our grants any more, most of them still operate and provide free legal consultations.

  • Public Scrutiny of Judge Candidates – initiatives aimed to increase public participation in the process of election of judges to the Constitutional Tribunal

Project implemented in cooperation with the Polish Section of the International Commission of Jurists and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

In Poland there is public discourse regarding candidates for various state offices, however, there is no tradition of debating judge candidates and appointees. Meanwhile, the courts are the third pillar of power and play a fundamental role in a state which obey the rule of law. This is why the nomination of judges is a matter of great importance. The process of their selection should be transparent and provide an opportunity for input from various communities including NGOs as well as the legal circles (law firms, law faculty councils, other interested institutions).

In implementing the project, we focused our activities on including civil society in the process of selection of judges to be nominated to the most important national and international courts: Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, Tribunal of State, Supreme Administrative Court, European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg as well as the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. We intended to achieve this by developing model solutions that enable civil society representatives to take part in the public discourse regarding candidates to these institutions that was based on publicly available information and objective evaluation criteria.

As the term of office of six judges to the Constitutional Tribunal ended in fall of 20006, the Foundation together with Polish Section of International Commission of Jurists and Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights launched a project of public scrutiny of candidates to Constitutional Tribunal. The project involved:

  • analysis of Polish regulations and previous practices in selecting judges to the Constitutional Court in comparison to analyses of other countries’ experience in this matter;
  • publishing the candidates’ profiles compiled on the basis of publicly available information (CVs, academic achievements, public statements, publications, legal opinions) and an objective questionnaire that was designed for the purpose of the project;
  • examination of professional experience and background of the candidates vis a vis legal requirements for this position
  • organization of public hearings of the candidates with the participation of legal circles representatives and media.
The results of our findings were presented up-to-date to the public in media and on the website www.monitoringsedziow.org.pl (in Polish). The project was finalized with the report (in Polish only) containing analyses and documents collected when developing a set of conclusions and recommendations for legal amendments in the future.

Olga Kersten-Matwin Fund – Fund established in 2021 with a donation from the family of Olga Kersten-Matwin, a psychologist and psychotherapist who specializes in psychotherapeutic assistance for people with experience of trauma and stress post-traumatic stress, as well as support for those helping refugees and migrants from the conflict areas. The fund ended in 2023.

Staszek Jonczyk “Sing” Fund – Fund established in 2011 by the family of the tragically deceased Staszek Jonczyk, a passionate choral musician and member of the Gregorianum Choir in to support the development of the amateur choral movement. It was active until 2023 year.

Gavell Family Fund – An endowed fund established in 2010 with an annual donation from the Quo Vadis Foundation of the United States, operating until 2019.The fund offered grants to organizations that run local scholarship programs for junior and senior high school students from indigent communities and from smaller towns in the swietokrzyskie province.

Wanda and Jadwiga Chruściel Fund – Fund established in 2015 from a donation by Jadwiga Chruściel, daughter of Antoni Chruściel a.k.a. “Monter” – commander of the Warsaw Uprising. The funds of the Fund were intended for scholarships for outstanding in science students and graduates of the School Complex named after Gen. Antoni Chruściel pseud. “Monter” in the hometown of the school’s patron – Gniewczyn Łańcucka. It operated until 2022.