5.6 Supporting youth organisations
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Youth organizations in Estonia are registered as not-for-profit organizations and defined in the Youth Work Act as follows: “a non-profit association at least two-thirds of the members of which are young people and the objective of which is the organization and performance of youth work”. The Act also defines the umbrella youth organizations as “a union of youth associations is a non-profit association the members of which are youth associations”.
The policy to support youth organizations is part of the Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035, where specific activities are planned:
- supporting youth organisations and councils in including young people and ensuring the collection and dissemination of best inclusion practices;
- supporting youth initiatives on local level;
- supporting youth initiatives on local level.
There is public funding available for youth organizations in Estonia. The Youth Work Act already in 1999, when it was first adopted, established an annual grant scheme from the state budget to support youth organizations. The Act defines, that the objective of an annual grant scheme for youth associations is „the increase of the capability of youth associations and the achievement of national objectives of youth policy.” Starting from 2019 annual grant scheme for all organizations was changed. National wide youth NGOs considered as strategic partners and some of them have 3 year annual contract for support with the MoER.
In 2015, Estonian National Youth Council started with a collaboration project „Common Youth” ("Ühised noored"), which aimed to involve young people at risk in the network of youth associations, as well as to prevent social exclusion and offences committed by young people. The project was implemented by April 2016.
Project activities involved different parties: eight youth associations, children and youth who live at-risk conditions and institutions and organizations that deal with youth at risk. Within the project, the members of youth associations were trained to involve the target group in their activities. There were also different opportunities introduced that help youth associations and organizations that deal with youth at risk to collaborate with each other. As a result of the project guidance materials were prepared in collaboration with partners and experts. Youth associations all over Estonia will be able to use the materials in the future with the aim of involving and helping youth at risk better. Project „Common Youth” was funded through the EEA grants program „Children and Youth at Risk”.
National Youth Council (NYC) and Estonian School Students Councils Union (ESCU) had many projects involving Russian-speaking youth. NYC organized in 2019-2020 large project "Youth Participation Academy". ESCU project develops student councils and school democracy in Russian-speaking Ida-Virumaa - Koolidemokraatia Ida-Virumaale.