Smolenskii b-r 17, Str. 5
Founded in 1993, the Citizen's Foundation is a private non-profit Russian organization established by a group of Russian scholars and intellectuals as an endeavor to build an infrastructure for democracy based on grassroots citizen organizing and "self-help" philosophy. The foundation's strategy was to respond to resident needs and create opportunities for citizen democracy and local economic and community development. The ultimate goal was to help build strong local communities and enable them to respond to the national crisis brought on by the speed and scope of the transformation of Russian society. These networks of new vibrant communities will provide the base for the growth of a new Russian civil society.
The Citizen's Foundation Board of Directors includes Moscow University professors from the departments of economics and politology, Academician Arbatov, the Director of the US and Canada Studies Institute, Yuri Chernichenko, the leader of the Russian Federation's Agricultural Party and Pavel Bunich, President of the Russian Small Business Association. The board functions as an advisory and fundraising body to the Foundation.
The initial seed capital for the foundation was donated by the Ello Foundation as an in-kind contribution of clothing and medical supplies. The local municipality agreed to rent the Citizen's Foundation office space at a substantially discounted rate given their non-profit status. The foundation has a staff of three full time employees and many volunteers from different Moscow neighborhoods.
The success of the Center attracted considerable attention on the part of the Russian media, and several articles and television stories appeared. This exposure yielded many requests from individuals and community-based organizations throughout Russia and the former Soviet republics. It also led to the foundation taking part in the first International conference on Social work and welfare held in Moscow in September 1994. At the same time, two federal ministries, the Ministries of Social Welfare and Nationalities signed agreements with the foundation pledging to support their activities and declaring the Neopalimovka Community Center as an "official" experimental district. Finall, the foundation received a letter from the Deputy chairman of the Council of Federation of the Russian Federal Assembly endorsing the Neopalimovka experiment, the national dissemination project and the new Russian/American partnership the foundation has established.
Having fulfilled its first goal with the creation of the Neopalimovka Center as an umbrella organization for local initiative groups, the Citizen's Foundation moved on to undertake its second major project while continuing to serve as an advisory body for the Center. This project is the dissemination of the Center model on a national basis and the creation of a national citizen training academy, with its American partner, the Citizens Initiative Development Council. This is a direct response to the requests it has received from other communities for information on their community center activities and has become a major component of the foundation's future plans.
In 1997 Citizen's Foundation received a grant from the Ford Foundation for a new institute to help prepare Russian citizens for an active role in local self-governance. (Source: Chronicle of Philanthropy, May 15, 1997.)
Last updated: June 1997
A print version of much of the information contained in this NIS Third Sector Organizations section can be found in the The Post-Soviet Handbook (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1999).