Grassroots Advocacy Academy

Grassroots Advocacy Academy

With 12 million people in Europe, the Roma are its largest minority. The Visegrad countries Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are three of the five countries with the biggest share of the Roma population. According to the FRA EU-MIDIS II survey, 80% of Roma live at risk of poverty and 41% feel they have been discriminated against over the past 5 years in everyday situations. Hate speech against Roma is on the rise. Roma civil society is weak, with little power to influence decisions that can improve the living conditions of the Roma population. ERGO Network and its members, along with a few other institutions, have many years of experience in capacity-building and strengthening Roma civil society.

However, this work has not been systematized and evaluated in the past years across different organization. Besides, in an environment of increasing antigypsyism, traditional ways of advocacy are not effective. Local, regional and national authorities often show reluctance to work with Roma rights advocates. In some countries, even training local activists are seen as political influencing and puts civil society organizations at risk of losing funding. As a network of organizations experienced in advocacy and capacity-building, we will evaluate the situation, discuss ideas on how to better overcome these challenges and implement them in three national Roma Grassroots Advocacy Academies, which will subsequently be evaluated in order to design a long-term capacity-building programme. This will improve the effective participation of the Roma population in the democratic system.

Antigypsyism hampers Roma inclusion and eradication of poverty in the region. Local Roma activists can play a big role in changing this situation if they have the capacities to engage in advocacy and civic participation.  Our project will focus on peer learning and exchange of experiences in the field of advocacy for Roma rights and of capacity-building for grassroots Roma advocates. It aims to find new approaches to support Roma rights advocacy through peer-to-peer learning and will directly improve the advocacy skills of local activists in a changing environment. In the expert workshop, we will share experiences with advocacy in an adverse environment for Roma rights advocates. The workshop will also discuss how best to support local activists to be effective in their civic engagement. This will focus particularly on how grassroots activists can address the phenomenon of antigypsyism in their contexts. Based on the results, they will then implement national advocacy academies in a format most suitable for their context. In the end, the work will be evaluated to design a long-term follow-up strategy for better capacity-building.

As direct results, the project will achieve a better understanding of the challenges of Roma rights advocates in the region and will lead to the implementation of more effective capacity-building approaches to support grassroots activists in Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. In the long-term, the trained local Roma activists will then be more effective in their advocacy work and can contribute to combatting antigypsyism on a local level.

Project Objectives

  • To increase the advocacy skills of activists in local and national Roma NGOs.
  • To facilitate coalition-building among local and national Roma NGOs in Visegrad countries.
  • To increase the knowledge of EU driven social policy processes among local and national Roma NGOs.
  • To develop ideas for advocacy strategies on the employment of young Roma across three Visegrad countries.
  • To share experiences with Roma rights advocacy in Visegrad countries.


Advocacy expert workshop (Usti nad Labem Czech Republic, 23-28 August 2019)

The expert workshop will bring together 20 Roma rights advocates and community organizers from the three partner countries for 3 working days, together with several experts from other countries, with expertise in undertaking advocacy activities themselves, as well as supporting grassroots Roma activists in their advocacy efforts.


  • To share challenges with Roma rights advocacy and advocacy training in Visegrad and other countries
  • To develop ideas on how to address the phenomenon of antigypsyism in local advocacy work in the partner countries
  • To discuss useful approaches on how to support Roma rights advocates in an adverse environment

3 National grassroots advocacy academies in Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Hungary

The academies will be developed by the participants of the expert workshop based on the ideas discussed during the workshop.

It’s draft objectives are:

  • To provide basic advocacy skills to local Roma activists – To develop a conceptual understanding of the phenomenon of antigypsyism among local activists so that they are better able to address it.
  • To provide coaching for concrete advocacy plans of the participants

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, our partners Slovo21 and Roma Advocacy and Research Centre will organize residential academies. In Hungary, facilitators of Autonomia Foundation will travel to several locations to coach activists who need particular support in the implementation of their advocacy plans, using the ideas taken from the transnational expert workshop.

Coordinator: ERGO Network, Belgium.


Autonomia Foundation, Hungary.

Slovo 21, Czech Republic.

RARC, Slovakia.


This project is kindly supported by the International Visegrad Fund.

Grassroots Advocacy Academy – ERGO Network

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