STEP UP fund: NGO capacity strengthening for refugee protection

In the summer of 2020, the Dutch Council for Refugees launched the STEP UP Fund; a pilot that introduced a new way of supporting NGOs in Europe. Organisations could submit applications for capacity building for up to €7,500 euro and receive support from the Dutch Council for Refugees in the form of knowledge exchange or training.

The STEP UP Fund 2020 - 2021

In this first round of the STEP UP Fund, NGOs from Croatia, Italy and Spain were invited to apply. Out of the 65 applications from the three countries, eight inspiring projects were selected to receive support until the end of May 2021. The approved plans range from developing projects for sheltering boat refugees in Sicily to advocacy against border detention in Italy, from setting up a network of asylum lawyers to facilitating psychological support for volunteers in Croatia, and from an innovative host family project in Catalonia to a fundraising campaign in Spain. The partners and projects are listed further below.

Why does the Dutch Council for Refugees run this Fund?

International solidarity for refugee protection is needed more than ever, as the number of refugees and displaced persons fleeing from war, violence and persecution is at an all-time high. Protection is hard to get by and durable solutions are barely attained. Where Europe should be leading by example in sharing responsibility for welcoming and hosting refugees, the past years have seen a further externalization and deterioration of refugee protection.

As part of our international solidarity the Dutch Council for Refugees, a nationally operating NGO in the Netherlands assisting asylum seekers and refugees, has been investing in the capacity of NGO's at the borders of Europe over the past decade. Through the STEP UP Fund we are piloting a new method to support local and national NGOs and build new partnerships.

Stay informed

We are looking into methods and funding to further develop the STEP UP Fund into a standing capacity development fund for NGOs from selected countries.Do you want to stay informed about the STEP UP Fund, the supported projects, and the next call for proposals? Subscribe to our English newsletter.

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If you have any ideas or questions, do not hesitate to send us an e-mail.

STEP UP partners and projects 2020-2021

From Italy:

  • ASGI: ACT! - strengthening ASGI’s advocacy actions through a series of advocacy trainings, and (local) advocacy plans by ASGI Members.
  • Porco Rosso: Project development for solidarity  - Improve our capacity to raise funds and develop a sustainable project base

From Croatia:

  • Are You Syrious (AYS): More Syrious – improving AYS’s capacity in working with volunteers on integration, advocacy, and border monitoring
  • Croatian Law Centre (CLC): Croatian Asylum Lawyers Network (CALN) - Creating a network of, and online platform for asylum lawyers who are working as providers of free legal aid for asylum seekers and refugees to share knowledge and experiences.
  • Centre for Peace Studies (CPS): “WeCare – you do good when you’re good” – strengthening our work with volunteers and safeguarding their wellbeing, including through the creation of a self-care guide

From Spain:

  • Asociación Progestión: Inception: Psycho-social training program for staff and volunteers working in refugee reception
  • Refugee Welcome Spain: New House – design and implementation of a new housing recruiting strategy for refugees and asylum seekers to be hosted with locals
  • ONG Rescate: Refugee Women - Development of capacities to raise private funds through a campaign on refugee women.

The first phase of the STEP UP Fund has been funded by the National Postcode Lottery.

You can read more about the Dutch Council for Refugees and our international activities here.



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