The World Bank’s board of directors recently approved US$200,000 to start up two community foundation pilot projects in Moldova, the first pilot projects resulting from the Community Foundation Initiative launched jointly by the Council on Foundations and the World Bank last year. The community foundation funds are a small part of a US$20 million World Bank Social Investment Fund to support poor and vulnerable communities in Moldova. A former Soviet republic, the now-independent Moldova borders Romania and Ukraine.
The two-year Community Foundation Initiative began in March 2003 when Dr Juraj Mesik of Slovakia was hired as a senior community foundation specialist within the World Bank’s Social Development Department. For more than a year, Mesik has been educating senior Bank staff about the community foundation concept and exploring potential pilot projects in developing countries.
Although community foundations have been established in a number of Eastern European countries, Russia and the Independent States, none exists at the present time in Moldova, considered the region’s poorest country. However, local interest in adapting the community foundation concept in Moldova is high. The approved funds will be used to raise awareness about community foundations in Moldova, to support a competition leading to the selection of two pilot project sites, and to provide opportunities for local leaders from the selected sites to learn from the experience of existing community foundations in the region.
Additional pilot project sites are currently being explored in other developing countries. The Community Foundation Initiative is jointly funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the World Bank. An international advisory committee under the auspices of the Council on Foundations works closely with World Bank staff to guide the initiative.
This column was written by Rob Buchanan, Director, International Programs, Council on Foundations. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org