CIDC Receives a US Embassy Grant to Promote Democratic Participation in Bulgaria

May 15, 2024
CIDC Receives a US Embassy Grant to Promote Democratic Participation in Bulgaria

The Innovative Project Aims to Empower Youth and Strengthen Democratic Practices and Processes

The Center for Information Democracy and Citizenship (CIDC) at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) has received a grant from the US Embassy in Bulgaria to build the leadership skills of Bulgarian youth and enhance their civic and community engagement. The program, with the title, “You(TH) Participate” seeks to engage young people from the country in innovative democratic processes to boost their participation and trust in democratic institutions.

In a strategic effort to bolster democratic engagement among young Bulgarians, this grant represents a significant collaboration between the CIDC and the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy. The project aligns with AUBG’s mission of educating ethical and democratic leaders to serve the needs of the region and the world and the CIDC’s commitment to foster informed democratic citizenship.

“This initiative aligns with our mission to foster academic excellence and civic engagement,” said Dr. Margee Ensign, President of AUBG. “We are grateful to the US Embassy for their important support. We are excited to collaborate with them to empower our students and young people in Bulgaria to strengthen democratic practices in the country,” she stated.

The “You(TH) Participate” initiative seeks to revolutionize civic education and participation among youth, empower university students to become democracy ambassadors and with the confidence to initiate other civic engagement activities. CIDC believes that introducing students to deliberative democracy theory and practice will develop their decision-making, critical thinking skills, and quality of debate while promoting a better understanding of democratic processes.

The U.S. Embassy-funded initiative focuses on three major goals. The first aims to enhance youth leadership by developing student leaders proficient in deliberative democracy and equipping them to advocate for democratic values and drive community change.

The second goal is to boost civic participation by enabling students to gain critical problem-solving skills and practical experience in democratic deliberation through citizen assemblies. Sparking interest in policymaking is the third aim of the “You(TH) Participate” initiative. Under this priority area, the project will inspire students to engage in policymaking, encouraging active contributions to societal governance.

The project will begin in June 2024 and will conclude in June 2025 with a review of the sustainability and scalability plan that will allow for a lasting future impact. “You(TH) Participate” is not just a project but a strategic endeavor to create a ripple effect in democratic engagement across Bulgaria, said CIDC Executive Director Dr. Jacob Udo-Udo Jacob. “By focusing on youth, the initiative aims to shape a new generation of informed, proactive citizens ready to uphold and advance democratic values. We will learn lessons from this project to see how it can be implemented elsewhere. We are already in discussions with other partners to engage youths from other countries in the region”, Dr. Jacob added.

In the coming days, the CIDC project team will launch a call for student leads who will be trained to run the student assembly process as Democracy Youth Ambassadors (DYAs). The next step will be the design and launch of the youth assembly process. About 40 youths from across Bulgaria are expected to take part in the assembly.  The DYAs will present the outcome of the youth assembly to relevant authorities, as well as ensure any follow-up with the assembly participants for next steps.

As “You(TH) Participate” unfolds, it promises to transform Bulgaria’s democratic landscape by empowering its youth and activating their leadership potential. The project is one of the many initiatives that the CIDC is implementing to combine academic prowess, thought leadership, and the impetus of youth to transform and evolve democratic processes both regionally and globally. To stay updated on this project and other CIDC initiatives, kindly subscribe to the CIDC Newsletter.