A Long Push for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement Among Young People in Former Communist States

Remember Bosnia? It was a warring hotspot in the early 1990s, drawing global attention. But then the war ended and most people forgot about it.

Not the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Mott has been supporting YouthBank models all over Bosnia and Herzegovina, created by the Sarajevo-based Mozaik Foundation, since around 2001. It gave recently gave another $200,000 to the foundation, which has since expanded its YouthBank work in nearly 30 countries around the world, including in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. Mott awarded Mozaik its first grant in 2001 (which was known as the Bosnian NGO Foundation at the time) as part of its Care USA grant to help further the foundation’s mission—to build an army of young, civic-minded people who have the desire to participate in community development and philanthropy.

Related: Who Wants Young People Involved in Philanthropy and Why?

YouthBanks are operated by young people, who have the final say in their grantmaking decisions, with a little guidance from a few experienced adults. YouthBanks also work to encourage philanthropic practices and Mott is lending a hand toward those ends.

Mozaik will put its latest grant from Mott to use by building on the YouthBank model by continuing to identify young community leaders and help them to further develop their leadership skills and talents. The remaining portion of the grant is earmarked to help grow Mozaik’s grantmaking abilities to $1 million through local and international fundraising activities. Previous grantmaking by Mozaik topped out at around €680,000 or $720,000.

Bosnia and Herzegovina isn’t an area of the world that gets a whole lot of grantmaking attention from NGOs, but C.S. Mott has had a presence in the region for quite some time. The foundation’s grantmaking in BiH—and in other Southeastern European countries including Croatia, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, and the Western Former Soviet Union countries—aims to increase philanthropy and increase civic engagement for the benefit of local communities.

The Mott Foundation is one of the few foundations (Open Society Foundations is another one) that focuses its grantmaking attentions on these European nations. One of the major problems facing NGOs in the region is that income/profit and gifts tax laws serve as an impediment toward cultivating philanthropic giving.

Complicated tax law hasn’t deterred Mott from keeping its steady grantmaking to Moziak. Since 2007, the foundation has awarded the organization close to $2 million. That goes a long way toward building an army of young do-gooders.

Related: Charles Stewart Mott Foundation: Grants for Global Development