From the 13th to 15th of June 2022, in Cinisello Balsamo was held the first coordination meeting of the project “Make it Grow!”, which aims to create new connections between young social entrepreneurs (or aspiring ones), youth workers and policy makers. An innovative system made of networks and strategies to enhance the resources represented by the new generations and expand the impact of their projects in the territories.
This was the first occasion to meet in person some new partners, such as those from Bosnia Herzegovina and Montenegro, and to find others with whom the Europe and Project Department staff of Cinisello Balsamo already had the opportunity to collaborate with, such as the Albanian representative of Art Kontakt that was previously involved in the EUIMAGE project from 2018 to 2020. The representatives of the Municipality of Edremit (Turkey) joined us online as well.
Before approaching the technical and management aspects of the project, we took some time to get to know each other, to introduce the respective organizations and areas of expertise. The areas of expertise within the partnership are various: from the promotion of women’s social entrepreneurship to which the Bosnian association Orhideja focuses its action, to the enhancement of the creative and artistic industry on which Art Kontakt in Tirana is based, passing through the topic of rural tourism that unites all the entrepreneurs of the Touristic Kluster Montenegro network, closing with the one of sustainable tourism on which the European Design Office of Edremit focuses. These specific experiences are exactly the ones that will be promoted during the course of Make it Grow! through public seminars and study visits.
Not of secondary importance is the diversity of the profiles represented: two public bodies and three Third Sector organizations; the presence of Mediterranean (part of the EU and non-EU) and Balkan cultures with a history of mutual intertwining and influences.
The introductory session was very useful for sharing expectations and concerns regarding the activities that will develop over the next 3 years. A common feature in all contexts, for example, is the lack of ability to dialogue between young people and policy makers (however, the aim of the project is targeted), and the challenge of attracting and retaining young people on their own territories. Doubts to which the project responds thanks to a considerable domestic wealth of experience, complementary skills and knowledge.
The meeting continued with a short training on the Erasmus + program, on which some of the partners interact for the first time. It was thus possible to establish a common language and clarify the general objectives of the financing, which focuses on young people and the cooperation between workers and organizations that, at various levels, work with the new generations.
It was then explained in detail what youth work, non-formal education and tools for the recognition of soft skills such as Youthpass consist of.
A specific emphasis was placed on the component "Capacity-Building within Youth" as part of Erasmus +, which includes Make it Grow !: the strand aims at improving the capacity of organizations to work in the field of non-formal education , particularly in countries not associated with the Program (such as Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina), to reach young people with fewer opportunities and fill the gap between them and the world of work.
In the following sessions of the kick-off meeting, the partners discussed aspects mainly related to the implementation, management and monitoring of the activities that will be developed over the next 3 years, establishing their respective responsibilities and agreeing on the tools for communicating and promoting the results.
There were moments to get to know the Cinisello Balsamo area better, through a visit to Villa Ghirlanda Silva and one to the coworking space Cofò.