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Study Visits

The Community Foundation Study Visit is a one-week long, intensive learning program that brings together practitioners and thinkers from community foundations (CF), CF support organization (CFSO)  in several European countries in one country to meet and interact with community foundations of the host country for mutual learning and reflection. 

ECFI is seeking applications from participants that are curious to understand how CFs work in other parts of Europe, interested in learning and personal development, willing to actively share their own experiences and insights and to contribute to knowledge development in the area of CF practice. Good working level knowledge of English and interest in developing relationships with other peers are necessary prerequisites. It is also required that within 6 months of the study visit, participants produce a personal reflection from the study visit in a form of blog, essay, commentary or video blog and share it with the community of learners involved in prior learning events.

A group of 12 European community foundation practitioners will explore collectively community philanthropy in Latvia.

Our partner in Latvia is the Community Foundation Movement of Latvia.

(The deadline for applications was June 25, 2018.)

From 17-22 September 2018, the Latvian Community Foundation Movement and ECFI (European Community Foundation Initiative) will hold a weeklong study visit to Latvia. Its purpose is to provide a space for reflection on Latvia’s context and its experience in articulating CF roles, practices and approaches to address community issues and challenges. Particular attention will be paid to how dialogue across the community and the convening of local actors can be encouraged.

Latvia has a vibrant community foundation movement with nine active CFs. Latvia is the only country in the Baltic States in which community foundations have taken root and which can reflect on 15 years of achievement in this realm. In the European context, community foundations in the Nordic tier of countries are quite rare, making Latvia a particularly interesting case as well for its combination of specific cultural and political traditions and influences. The group will visit community foundations in two different communities - Valmiera and Alūksne - and will look particularly at the ways Latvian communities address their issues and challenges and explore the leadership roles CFs play in these processes.

The CF study visit typically consists of a series of meetings and visits at the host CFs that provide the background for intensive debates and reflective discussions among the study visit participants and with their hosts in various formal and informal settings and formats.

The study visit to Latvia will be the eighth study visit. Preceding visits were conducted to Bulgaria (2010), Czech Republic (2011), Poland (2012), Romania (2013), Slovakia (2014), London and Northern Ireland (2015) as part of an initiative of the C. S. Mott Foundation. The 2016 study visit to Germany, 2017 visit to Great Britain and this years’ visit have been organized by the European Community Foundation Initiative (ECFI) as part of its peer learning activities for CFs and CF Support Organizations in Europe based on funding from the C.S.Mott Foundation, Körber Stiftung, and Bosch Stiftung.

We are looking forward to a collective learning experience in the growing field of community philanthropy.

Europe is composed of many diverse countries and regions, with unique cultures and traditions. Change is happening all the time, sometimes fast. Therefore it is important to stop every once in a while and pause – to reflect on the current situation and how cohabitation can be improved. This is exactly what a CF study visit is about. It contributes to a better understanding of the community foundation concept in Europe. 

CFs in Europe are a heterogeneous group of philanthropic organizations, although with many common features and characteristics. The diversity aspect is not only a challenge both practically and intellectually, but also represents potential for learning and advancement. By understanding how others react in a certain situation, we can extend our range of options for similar challenges in our own environment.

CF study visits and CF2CF exchanges provide the necessary framework and space for a fruitful mixture of communication, learning end experiences. They are, so to speak, a real-life social laboratory. And like all good labs, they bring results. These cannot always be precisely defined and classified, but on the whole they help European nations grow together. Because when people start moving, their thoughts start moving, too.

A typical CF study visit lasts one week. The intensive programme brings together a group of 15-20 CF performers and thinkers from all over Europe in one country, creating a space for reflection and discussions around this experience. The agenda consists of a series of meetings and visits to the host CFs, providing the basis for intensive debates and reflective discussions among participants. Everything is organized in a way that allows for maximum interaction. As a follow-up to the study visit, several papers about this experience will be written, shared and discussed online.

Moreover, CF study visit are based on the following principles: 

  • Participants are connected to CF in a practical or theoretical way 
  • Host community foundations are visited by the participants
  • One week of intensive interaction, analysis and discussion 
  • Well-structured and balanced agenda with good workflow
  • Facilitators for effective interaction are integrated 
  • Well-organized logistics and sufficient space for sessions
  • Reflection papers about the visit to be written and shared by participants

Participation in a CF study visit is by invitation based on applications after a study visit has been announced.

Participation in the study visit is determined through an open process: after having expressed the interest, the applications are selected based on their potential to benefit from the Study Visit and contribute to shared knowledge building about the field in Europe. The call for participation is open to a limited number of participants (12) that form a diverse group of learners from existing CFs, emerging CF initiatives, CF support organizations, national CF associations/federations, as well as relevant experts and researchers from Europe.

On the one hand, the visits are designed for practical CF performers (staff, board members, volunteers, donors). On the other hand, we also want to attract participants with theoretical backgrounds. For example, these can be experts or researchers interested in issues such as community cohesion, social capital, foundations and community philanthropy. 

The costs for travelling, meals and accommodation are usually covered by EFCI. However, budgets are limited and co-funding suggestions always welcome.

If you meet at least five of the following criteria, we look forward to your online application!

A promising CF study visit candidate …

… is a member of the staff, Board or a core volunteer of a CF or CF support organization or national CF association. 

… is a researcher or author writing about community philanthropy, foundations, community cohesion or social capital. 

… is a donor who appreciates that learning is important for the development of community foundations, their activities and their support infrastructure. 

… is curious to understand how CFs work in Europe and in particular their community leadership role.

… is interested in learning, personal growth and developing professional relationships.

… is willing to actively share his/her own experience and insights and contribute to the development of knowledge in the area - both during the CF study visit and back home!

… has at least a working knowledge of English.