Landecker Democracy Fellow Vlad Dumitrescu is currently working for the Civil Society Development Foundation in Bucharest, Romania.
According to research conducted by the Romanian Ministry of Youth, young people are not as interested in being involved in politics. This demographic had the lowest voter turnout during past elections. The same research tells us that young people do not participate in volunteer activities and that only 5% are members of nonprofits. Also, through their own research, Vlad identified that only 5.7% of all active Romanian nonprofits work with and for young people, which is an insufficient number to cover the needs of more than 5 million young people living in the country. These statistics show that there is a major problem with the mainstream civic participation of young people in Romania. This problem needs to be addressed.
Vlad identified that only 5.7% of all active Romanian nonprofits work with and for young people, which is an insufficient number to cover the needs of more than 5 million young people living in the country.
One way to tackle the issue is to invest in the new generations of young people. This would include motivating them to work within the nonprofit sector, equipping them with the necessary tools to deal with uncertainty and encourage a new direction for civil society, and facilitate how they can engage other young people to participate. In a nutshell, Vlad proposes to work with a group of 25 #trillenials (young people involved in civil society issues) and enroll them in a one-year learning program. Within the program, aside from the learning journey, #trillenials will work together with other 40 young people from all over Romania that will implement local projects involving at least 300 young people in tailored interventions to their local needs and understandings of civic participation as well as involving them in promotion and information activities (interviews, stories, events).
The 300 young people involved in the local group projects will become more engaged in community life which will increase their involvement and status in Romania. They will become role models for their peers and will contribute to building a stronger community.
In this project, the following activities will be implemented: #trillenials will undertake small local research projects to better understand the status quo. Then they will develop the ongoing #space3 concept – a place where, on one side, we promote and inform young people on civic and participation issues (create stories of successful youth participation projects, conduct interviews with young people, promote ways in which young people can get engaged) and on another side we activate young people through events (training, networking, etc) as well as a competition for hacking civic participation for young people where best ideas will be awarded financial resources for implementation. In order to implement the competition, we will undertake a selection for young people all over Romania that want to propose interventions and we will first involve them in a hackathon event where they will refine their projects/ solutions. The competition will have 8 winners that will be awarded 500 EUR each for the implementation of projects/ solutions. The solutions drawn from the hackathon will be put into practice by teams of young people for a period of at least 3 months.
The #trillenials will become visible in the Romanian civil society, with a recognized status at the local level through creating the network of young people and positioning themselves as influencers. They will be able to act coherently and professionally towards the engagement of young people in community life and have experience engaging important local stakeholders. The 300 participants in local projects will as well become more engaged in community life and more interested in civil society issues. They will become role models for their peers, will be more aware of the civic issues and will be more susceptible to joining similar projects. They will also be able to think more critically about civic public issues.