Civil Society and Democracy

Nonprofit Sector, Central and Eastern Europe

The Fund’s early work in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) during the 1980s had helped citizens challenge Communist-era policies and had begun to open a space for civic discourse and engagement. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, civic groups emerged across the region, yet few funds were available to start NGOs and organizers had little management experience. In 1990, the RBF formally extended the scope of its Nonprofit Sector program to include CEE. For the next decade, its strategies were multi-faceted. It promoted indigenous philanthropy through groups including the Hungarian Foundation for Self-Reliance, the Polish Children and Youth Foundation, and the Healthy Cities Foundation in Banska Bystrika, Slovakia. It did long-term capacity-building through groups such as the San Francisco-based Non-profit Enterprise and Self-sustainability Team (NESsT), established in 1997 with seed money from the RBF to incubate nonprofit income-generating projects in emerging democracies. It trained the trainers of nonprofit leaders through the Civil Society Development Fund and Johns Hopkins University. And it built infrastructure and networking resources for the sector, including the Slovak Information Agency and the Donors’ Forum in the Czech Republic.

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Browse the major events in the Rockefeller Brothers Fund's history