Advocate Europe is an idea challenge and civic incubator for European initiatives realised by MitOst and Liquid Democracy, funded by Stiftung Mercator. We support unconventional and transnational ideas that respond to Europe’s present challenges.
Advocate Europe assists civil society actors by providing them with kick-start funding and mentoring to implement their project ideas in fields such as civic education, arts and culture, social innovation and advocacy. We fund up to 12 pioneering projects per round with grants of up to €50,000 each.
From centre to periphery, Advocate Europe brings project-makers together. Since 2014, we have collected more than 1,500 ideas from 45 European countries, connected 54,070 people on our online platform and invested in 25 winning initiatives that pilot new answers for a common European future. Behind each of these ideas are people: our European change-makers. Together, we connect Europe.
“Your question for Europe?” During our Network Meeting in Warsaw. Photo: Panos Georgiou
Europe belongs to us – citizens, families, migrants, newcomers, and policy-makers alike. We can determine its direction. But we need to put our heads, hearts and hands together and turn ideas into actions.
And we need to do it beyond established disciplines and conventional schools of thought. We know that we exist, from Reykjavík to Ankara, from Porto to Helsinki, in cities and in rural areas: individuals and groups who want to effect change and who want to pursue innovative work on Europe. As the initiators of Advocate Europe, we are convinced that a unified Europe is the best option for our continent. Only together can we find solutions to our challenges.
We strive for a Europe that is co-created by diverse voices – one that is based on open-mindedness and tolerance, that offers justice and equal opportunities, that protects individual rights, that guarantees democracy and the rule of law, and that ensures freedom.
Advocate Europe is an idea challenge implemented by MitOst, in cooperation with Liquid Democracy, and funded by Stiftung Mercator.
Stiftung Mercator is a private and independent foundation. Through its work it strives for a society characterized by openness to the world, solidarity and equal opportunities. In this context it concentrates on strengthening Europe; increasing the educational success of disadvantaged children and young people, especially those of migrant origin; driving forward climate change mitigation and promoting science and the humanities. Stiftung Mercator symbolizes the connection between academic expertise and practical project experience. One of Germany’s leading foundations, it is active both nationally and internationally. Stiftung Mercator feels a strong sense of loyalty to the Ruhr region, the home of the founding family and the foundation’s headquarters.
MitOst e.V. connects motivated people in a diverse and open network in Europe and its neighbouring regions. MitOst supports cultural exchange and civil society engagement through its projects. The goal of the association is a lively civil society that goes beyond cultural, linguistic and political borders. More information can be found at mitost.org.
Liquid Democracy is a non-profit and non-partisan association which works on innovative ideas and software for democratic participation. Since 2009 the association has developed the open source software library Adhocracy. It enables organisations and individuals to participate in decision-making processes through an online discourse mostly free of moderation. More information can be found at liqd.net.
We find, fund and support initiatives and people that are on their way to becoming European game-changers. In times when solutions for societal challenges have to be continuously re-thought and newly invented, Advocate Europe offers a space for pragmatic visionaries, shapers and creators to come together from the midst of an engaged European civil society. We recognise and build on the passion and drive of Europe’s civil society to push for new responses to our challenges.
European change-makers during our Network Meeting 2018. Photo: Olga Zarko
Often, though not exclusively, we provide the first funding for a promising initiative. We believe in fresh ideas and people with the enthusiasm to turn them into action:
“Advocate Europe not only supported us with funding, even more important they believed in our idea!” Rabea Haß and Jule Schröder, Kitchen on the Run
"We had our idea for some time, but could not find a supporter willing to help us make it reality. Once the pilot project was implemented successfully, it really is much easier to seek further support among potential donors. Indeed, Advocate Europe transformed an innovative idea into reality.” Maciej Nowicki, FUTUREDOCS
In 2014, we started building our online platform with a new focus: Openness, transparency and creativity. Prior to that, only the jury would have access to applications. This open innovation approach not only resulted in a much higher number of applications. It showcased the enormous amount of ideas existing in civil society today of which some 1500 have made their way to us.
More than two-thirds of people using our online platform reported that reading our digital ‘idea space’ had inspired them for their future work, according to a sociological evaluation. 75 per cent of them got to know new organisations working on similar issues and 65 per cent found out about new initiatives in their neighbourhoods. This is how we connect and inspire people and ideas that can change Europe. You can still get inspired by this incredible force of ideas.
For us, supporting a project means far more than funding. We mentor all project makers on their way to implementing their idea. To furnish them with tools, we host workshops on topics ranging from measuring impact to communication. Since 2014 we invited project makers to nine network gatherings in Athens, Berlin, Budapest, Kyiv, Maribor, Oberhausen, Rome and Warsaw. This is what winners say about working with us:
“To be honest: I left the first network meeting with fireworks in my head. It was great, they did incredible work.”
“They do not just sit on a ‘funders’ chair.’ It was a truly empathetic feeling of ‘We want to understand the project and help make it better. We want it to take place.’”
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