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Rapid Response Grants for Addressing the COVID-19 Crisis

The first case of COVID-19 in Georgia was confirmed on February 26. The subsequent growth of such cases posed new challenges to the country. In order to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in a timely manner, EWMI ACCESS promptly announced the Rapid Response Grants program for Georgian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), civil movements and citizen groups. The program deploys flexible resources to these groups to take civic action to minimize the spread of infection and address the crisis caused by the pandemic. The program does not fund humanitarian aid and humanitarian service delivery. 

The maximum budget of each project is 5000 USD, with a set duration between 2 weeks up to 2 months. As of March 31, 222 project proposals were submitted, of which 15 were selected for funding after careful assessment. Winners will be announced in early April.

The program is open. Interested applicants are encouraged to submit their proposals according to detailed guidelines available here.

Coping with Stress during the COVID-19 Crisis

Even before the onset of the new coronavirus outbreak, EWMI ACCESS delivered stress management trainings to CSOs and activists working in high-pressure environments. Acknowledging that the infection outbreak has caused fear, stress, anxiety and grief among many, EWMI ACCESS has teamed with the Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC) to prepare and share info-videos and other materials to a wider audience. Featuring prominent psychologist Maya Tsiramua, the videos aim to reduce anxiety, addressing specific methods to manage stress and fear. The videos are available here.

Distance Learning Courses for Civil Society Representatives

Distance learning courses’ popularity is increasing with social distancing measures in place. Therefore, EWMI ACCESS and the Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC) have re-opened admission to online learning courses in the following subjects: 1) Project Logic. 2) Roadmap for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). 3) Leadership at a Civil Society Organization (CSO). 

Each module is equipped with additional learning material and quizzes, and each module’s pace can be customized by the participant according to his/her personal needs. Participants earn a certificate after successfully completing the course tests. 

Civic Engagement Projects in Tbilisi and Regions

16 new projects will be launched in mid-April with EWMI ACCESS support. The majority of these were selected through open grants competitions such as COG and PPAG, while others are renewed successful projects carried out by EWMI ACCESS grantees. 

5 new projects aim at building resilience in Georgian society against anti-western disinformation and Russian propaganda. These are: 

1. Internet Monitoring for Democratic Civil Action (IMDCA) - detecting anti-western pages and engaging Facebook users to detect and identify fake accounts (bots, trolls) and misinformation platforms through page Vin Vin Aris’ (Who is who?). 

2. International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) - uncovering and reporting disinformation campaigns on Facebook during the 2020 parliamentary elections, as well as informing civil society and communicating with Facebook staff to safeguard elections from outside meddling.

3. On.ge in partnership with Atlantic Council Digital Forensics Research Lab (DFRLab) - producing investigative research into Russian disinformation campaigns targeting the public or policymakers ahead or during the 2020 Parliamentary elections.

4. UN Association of Georgia (UNAG) - encouraging democratic political participation and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations through producing unifying narratives drawing on the heritage of Georgia’s first Democratic Republic.

5. Strategic Communications Center Georgia - countering anti-western disinformation through Infoarmy.ge FB platform through citizen engagement in detecting and countering disinformation in social media.

11 projects aim to increase civic activism and engagement in Georgian regions. These are:

1. Gavigudet - addressing air pollution in Rustavi through advocacy campaigns, citizen awareness and mobilization.
2. Human rights and Social Justice Research Center - addressing water and air pollution as well as recurring flooding in Poti through civic engagement and advocacy.
3. Special Conservation Center Nacres - promoting volunteerism and civic engagement in Borjomi through strengthening volunteer firefighter groups and raising awareness on fire prevention and safety.
4. New Thinking Institute - empowering rural Azeri women in Marneuli municipality through setting up a “mother’s school” and offering informal education opportunities.
5. Orbeliani Georgia – developing a sustainable funding mechanism for community-driven projects by using and promoting a crowdfunding platform.
6. Platform ‘Salam’ - empowering youth leaders from Azeri communities in Georgia via development of their skills in advocacy, public speaking and debates.
7. Tbilisi Pride - empowering families of LGBTQI persons as well as protecting their rights.
8. Club of Winner Women - supporting breast cancer patients and survivors in regions of Georgia; raising public awareness about the importance of breast and cervical cancer screening.
9. Civic Initiative ‘Knowledge Cafè’ - mobilizing resources to build and set up an independent civic space (i.e. community foundation building) in Tsnori through citizen engagement, outreach and crowdfunding campaigns.
10. Center for Civic Activities - representing and protecting rights and interests of people from high-mountainous regions of Kakheti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Racha-Lechkhumi, Lower and Upper Svaneti.
11. Women of Georgia – supporting popular FB page
Women of Georgia” to raise awareness on gender inequalities in Georgia, sharing experiences of women from various backgrounds to exemplify gender berries that women face all across the country.

EWMI ACCESS Works from Home

In response to the COVID-19 threat and in line with the Georgian government’s preventive measures, EWMI ACCESS has moved to working remotely as of March 16, 2020. EWMI ACCESS staff members can be reached through phone or email, Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM.

ACCESS is $ 8,996,947 civil society development initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by East-West Management Institute (EWMI). USAID administers U.S. foreign assistance programs providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.