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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.6 Supporting youth organisations

Last update: 21 December 2020
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  1. Legal/policy framework for the functioning and development of youth organisations
  2. Public financial support
  3. Initiatives to increase the diversity of participants

Legal/policy framework for the functioning and development of youth organisations

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 Field Development Plan 2014-2020, where 3 specific activities are planned:

  1. sustainable development of traditional forms of participation (primarily such as youth councils and associations) is supported;
  2. a system that ensures annual budgetary support for youth associations and councils is further developed;
  3. increase in the membership of youth associations is supported by improving youth leaders’ competence for inclusion.

Public financial support

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.” Eligible to apply are:

  • the youth associations the membership of which includes at least 500 young persons and the local units of which operate in the territory of at least one-third of the counties;
  • union of youth associations the members of which include at least 30 youth associations;
  • school student councils' union if it aggregates at least one-third of Estonian basic school, upper secondary school or vocational educational institution students through its members;
  • federation of student unions the members of which include at least one-half of all student unions of educational institutions implementing higher education level studies.

The allocation of annual grants to youth associations is decided by the minister of Education and Research, taking into account:

  • the national priorities of youth work and youth policy;
  • the youth association development plan, activities and former achievements in the field;
  • the scope of activities of youth association, target group, membership and capability including the performance of former duties;
  • the compliance of the applicant and application with the established requirements.

The annual grant scheme does not specify the types of expenditures that are eligible for funding.

Initiatives to increase the diversity of participants

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 who 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 who 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”.