The national membership association of Italian grant-making foundations and private institutional philanthropy, Assifero, has been accredited as a national association now entitled to Servizio Civile Universale or Universal Civil Service, a scheme through which young people can gain professional experience working at a non-profit organization.
Servizio civile was established in Italy in 2001 to replace the nation’s previously compulsory military service. In 2018, a new law made servizio civile ‘universal’, aiming to guarantee a year-long professional placement at a non-profit organisation for interested young people between the ages of 18 and 28. The aim of the scheme is to boost career choices and future prospects for these youth, who can apply annually to a national call, and if selected are paid a monthly stipend by the state.
Assifero’s accreditation has been in the works for some time, said its Secretary General Carola Carazzone. ‘This is for us the recognition of four years of work – a vision that four years ago was considered disruptive and even outrageous.
‘It is a great opportunity to draw near two different worlds, usually apart: young people and philanthropic foundations. The former has the chance to develop and strengthen new competences and skills, accessing foundations’ experience, social, and human capital. The latter have the possibility to widen their horizon, become more accessible and diverse, and make their work evolve by integrating young people skills, for instance from a digital point of view and their refreshing perspective.’
Assifero is currently applying to the public call for 2020 proposals with three of its programmes linked to sustainable development goals, including ‘Handling with Care’, focusing on healthcare and the well-being of people of all ages; ‘Rigenerazione Umana’, which focuses on the enhancement of restored spaces and human regeneration; and ‘Educata-mente’, which focuses on education, specifically disadvantages and gaps. Assifero expects to be able to take on over 100 youth applicants by 2021.
Eventually, Assifero hopes to place up to 400 young people a year across 94 organisations with 129 headquarters throughout 12 regions of Italy.
‘This is the time to focus on youth unemployment issues – they need us now more than ever,’ said Filiz Bikmen, Founding Director of Esas Sosyal in Turkey, which developed and funds the First Chance programme for new university graduates, in partnership with 26 NGOs and 20 companies. The program has been running successfully for four years, and is similar to the Italian government’s servizio civile programme which Assifero will be a partner in implementing.
‘Even if employment will be a challenge, we must keep offering opportunities for youth to gain some work experience and keep contributing to their, and others’, development.’
The Associazione italiana fondazioni ed enti della filantropia istituzionale, Assifero, was founded in 2003. It currently encompasses 108 private foundations, including family, corporate, and community foundations, across Italy.