Winners of the Moscow Mayor’s Grant for nonprofit organisations describe their projects

January 4
Social sector

Over the last five years, grants have been given to over a thousand socially-oriented nonprofit organisations. Contest winners described their projects and how they were developed.

Your move: Chess for everyone

FIDE Master Elvira Umanskaya has always dreamed of creating a chess school that’s open to anyone. So in 2012, the Centre Kaissa of intellectual culture and sports opened in Otradnoye District. It was named after the heroine of the poem with the same name written by the English writer William Jones.

“Moscow is large, and people miss communication. Can you remember what it was like when we were children? Chess was frequently played in a courtyard. This game develops your brain and communication skills, too. People living in Otradnoye and neighbouring districts who wanted to hold chess tournaments under their windows started to come here,” Elvira Umanskaya said.

Press service of Moscow’s Public Relations and Youth Policy Committee

This is how the Chess for Friendship relay race for courtyard holidays came about. In 2018, the project won a Moscow Mayor’s Grant: 1.3 million roubles. Sites to play chess were established in 10 courtyards in Otradnoye District. They were open on weekends from noon to 1:30 pm for children to take part in the holidays. There are quizzes with prizes and music shows for children, and older kids played at the table. The relay race concluded in a large chess festival featuring 10 courtyard teams. Over 3,000 young people took part in the project.

Press service of Moscow’s Public Relations and Youth Policy Committee

In 2019, Kaissa won a second grant: almost 2.5 million roubles, for its project “The Grandmaster chess animator studio,” for teenagers from needy families. Young Muscovites had an opportunity to receive income in their free time by helping to organise chess holidays. They trained for six months, but the pandemic intervened and the project format had to be changed. Using the funds from the grant, the teenagers set up a television studio and launched a YouTube channel on chess culture.

The Kaissa centre holds regular online workshops, competitions and tournaments with 300-400 people at once.

Press service of Moscow’s Public Relations and Youth Policy Committee

“Now we are continuing to develop on the internet. This is our next project that we also plan to use to apply for the Moscow Mayor’s Grant,” Elvira Umanskaya adds.

Save and help

The Moscow city office of the Russian Student Rescue Corps has been developing the emergency volunteer movement since 2001. Over this time, over 400 students have received certification with the corps.

Not every young person is ready to pass the difficult trainings though. Therefore, in 2017 it was decided to expand our initiative through including  the Security Volunteers programme, which was developed for the 2017 World Festival of Youth and Students. A year later it served as the basis to create the Moscow Centre for the Coordination of Security Volunteers, which won a grant and received 679,000 roubles.

The programme provides solid theoretic and practical training on how to proceed in difficult situations. Volunteers look at emergency situations that may occur at a public event, undergo training in the basics of first aid, fire safety and psychological support for victims, as well as learn basic ways of interdepartmental communication with security services. There are also training camps for students. Volunteers have used the acquired skills and knowledge at public events in Moscow. For example, they were on duty at Epiphany water dives and helped to organise events to celebrate Victory Day.

After the project was over, volunteers took part in the Taurida ART festival in Crimea, City Day celebrations in Moscow and the International Volunteer Forum in Sochi among many others.

Press service of Moscow’s Public Relations and Youth Policy Committee

“A lot of volunteers who participated in the project changed to different areas, but they still got a good knowledge base that can also help in everyday life,” noted Office Chair Yevgeny Kozeyev.

During the pandemic, volunteers help the elderly around the house: they help with gardening and repairs, clean a dacha and garden plots or buy and deliver food and medicines.

Doctor Mum: Rehabilitation for children with cerebral palsy

The Gift to An Angel foundation was established in 2014 based on a charity project that helped children with disabilities. The organising tasks include patronage assistance for children and adults with serious musculoskeletal disorders.

Doctor Mum project

The idea of the Doctor Mum programme that won a Moscow Mayor’s Grant worth 2.5 million roubles was born from researching the best global practices and the foundation’s experience. Today it is well-known that home programmes have proven to be effective in developing such skills as self-care, for example. At home, the course is often more successful than at a rehabilitation centre, since the child remains in a familiar environment.

Doctor Mum is a six month programme with two main areas: rehabilitation and socialisation. A speech therapist and a physical therapist hold classes with children and at the same time teach their parents various methods for rehabilitation. All 50 families participating in the project received detailed plans according to which they will be able to study independently at home for one year.

Foundation staff also hold several inclusive events, such as Tolerance Week at School No. 1159. Schoolchildren have written a lot of personal letters to support children with cerebral palsy. A quiz was held on the adoption of children with disabilities for primary school children. The foundation’s employees told them about cerebral palsy and organised a videoconference with their peers.

“We have been implementing this project since October 2019 and through March 2020. We have missed the schedule due to the pandemic. Only one inclusive event had to be postponed. The entire rehabilitation section was implemented as planned, and the result was satisfactory,” says the foundation’s General Director Anastasia Prikazchikova.

Press service of Moscow’s Public Relations and Youth Policy Committee

Of course it is impossible to hold full rehabilitation sessions in six months. The families that took part in the project still receive expert support today.

The experience gained under the project has already been used for the development of the School of Alternative and Complementary Communication. The new project was also supported by the Moscow Mayor’s Grant competition this year. The Moscow government has allocated 2 million roubles for the programme.

Young geniuses: Technology and the future

The head of the Innovative Development Agency autonomous nonprofit organisation, Stanislav Sakharov, got the idea to create an educational programme for children after the results of a school robotics development research programme in Moscow. It turned out that less than one percent of schoolchildren were studying the subject regularly.

“Digital and ICT experts need to be trained from the earliest age possible. The right way is to start explaining theory while showing in practice how it works,” Stanislav Sakharov said.

This is how Schools for Development of Digital Competences and Interactive Robotics were created. The project was presented at the Moscow Mayor’s Grant competition in 2019 and won 2.45 million roubles.

The programme was launched in October, and until the pandemic the school held seven two-day courses for over 400 children. Anyone could register for the project. Information on the school’s opening was sent via prefectures and schools.

In March, the programme had to go online. Over 600 children in Moscow have already passed remote education courses. They focused on studying and using technologies from the Russian Digital Economy national project: VR, AR, Big data, smart city and the Internet of Things. Children listened to lectures and created. A model for robotics clearing water in the Moskva River designed by Kirill Salo, 11 years old, will be shown at specialised exhibitions in the future.

The organisers of the school decided not to stop there and came up with a sequel project called “Digital Moscow as seen by children and youth.” This year it won a second grant worth 1.85 million roubles. The program will begin in January 2021.

Press service of Moscow’s Public Relations and Youth Policy Committee

According to Stanislav Sakharov, the new project will involve the city’s best young minds to solving city tasks and set new trends. It is planned to open IT competence schools in such areas as Smart Cities, New Digital Services, Digital Literacy and the Internet of Things in every Moscow district. There are also plans to hold a final hackathon with tasks related to the development of Moscow’s digital space. Best projects and solutions will be shown at the final interactive exhibition, Digital Moscow as Seen by Children and Youth.

My Accessible Moscow: Service for millions

People with disabilities account for 6 percent of Moscow residents. There are even more low-mobility people in the city. They can always find the latest information about the accessibility of urban facilities using a specially developed app, My Accessible Moscow, which was later renamed My Accessible Country.

“For example, a shop entrance has no ramp, so a volunteer takes out their phone or tablet and marks the place on the map, and then the shop owner who downloads and uses the My Accessible Country app, can see this,” says Ivan Biryukov, a representative of the development company, director of the Aura Tech National Association of Assistive Technologies Market Players, explaining how the app works.

My Accessible Moscow project

In 2019, the project won a Moscow Mayor’s Grant and support worth of 1.2 million roubles. Over 150,000 young people have learned about the project by now, and over 100 volunteers have joined it. Today the app is available for Android and is being prepared for release for iOS.

At the first stage, the most active participants of the Moscow Volunteer Resource Centre took part in piloting the platform. After downloading the application, they examined more than 100 places noting their availability on the map. When assessing each locations, volunteers give recommendations and check 12 different zones at once, which should help people with disabilities negotiate entrance lobbies, parking facilities, service areas and many other places.

In the near future Ivan Biryukov and his team are planning to extend the project across the country. The app’s name has already been changed and other regions are expected to join soon. The release of the new app, My Accessible Country, is scheduled for January 2021. This year the project defended its development plans and won a grant worth over 2.1 million roubles.

Volunteers will be able to use the new version to earn bonuses, and outlets – subscribers and project participants – will exchange them for prizes. In addition, volunteers will communicate with each other in the application chatroom and will have the opportunity to upload videos in addition to photos.

How Moscow helps nonprofit organisations

The Moscow Mayor’s Grant competition is one of the world’s largest city projects to support nonprofit organisations. The goal is to financially support projects that can effectively address social problems. Grants can reach up to 2.5 million roubles, and the prize fund totals 400 million roubles. In 2020, the contest was won by 183 nonprofit organisations, with 125 of them receiving the city’s support for the first time.


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