Tartu County Youth Foundation
The 2018 LEADER project "Tartu County Active and Entrepreneurial Youth" strengthened the work of the Tartu County Youth Foundation, which was created in 2010 to provide youngsters (aged 12 to 26) with funds for implementing their initiative and ideas.
The project offers young people a unique opportunity to independently apply for support to initiate and implement activities that are important and necessary for them and their communities.
To foster youth participation and entrepreneurship, the new umbrella project developed work packages, idea contests and evaluation activities based on a "youth-to-youth" approach.
The project is an example of long-term implementation of a funding system aimed at young people, which is developed together with youngsters, giving them decision-making rights and responsibility.
The project funded 35 small-scale youth projects which involved over 1 000 young people in total, exceeding an initial goal of 600. The small-scale projects have improved the quality of life and attractiveness of Tartu County for residents of all ages.
Young people also established connections with peers across different municipalities, improved their entrepreneurial skills and, through project writing, realised the many opportunities rural areas have to offer.
As a result of the project, a Tartu County-wide youth network has been created. Young people have been involved in various projects through joint activities and have taken part in information days and feedback seminars.
Rural communities in the Netherlands, Northern Ireland and Finland have shown great interest in implementing a similar model.
The lesson from the Tartu County Youth Foundation and its LEADER project is that self-teaching (i.e. the youth-to-youth method) is a very sustainable and fruitful method as it allows youngsters to have a voice and decision-making responsibilities over each application for a community-oriented project. Also, giving the local youth “a fishing hook rather than a fish” means that temporary and quick solutions are not the priority. Instead, forward-looking, self-improvement and continuity are the aspects youngsters will hopefully learn and obtain during the project’s processes. Therefore, the recommendation is to include and work closely with young people when they are the target group.