Message from the Chair
|Anniversaries are times of reflection, and
for the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe and those
who live in the Soviet Union, 1999 was a year fraught
with special significance. It hardly seems possible that
it has been ten years since the amazing events of the
autumn and winter of 1989. A decade removed from those
heady days, across the region the Civic Education Project
(CEP) calls home, people have paused to reflect on all
that has happened, for good and for ill.
Although much has gone wrong, many of the best things happening can only be seen not from the top down, but from the bottom up. It is at the grassroots level that the real transition continues to occur, generally far from the gaze of observers who want to see sudden, spectacular results. Those of us who have been involved with CEP since its early years know many grassroots success stories, almost all of which would never make the news because they typically do not result in regime change or economic reorientation. Instead, our greatest successes are those that transform the lives of individuals in ways that foster sustainable change. For example, in Russia billions of dollars in western economic assistance have poured into the country with little return on that massive investment. During the same period of time, CEP has spent a little over $2 million on its Russia program and our Fellows, both Visiting Lecturers from outside and Russians in our Eastern Scholars program, have taught thousands of students economics, law, and other subjects in the social sciences. We are firmly convinced that our investment in these young people is yielding far greater returns, not only for Russia, but for the entire region.
While our core mission remains the same, over the past three years CEP has undergone a fundamental transformation from an organization that provided expertise from outside the region to one that creates long term capacity within the region. Today over 100 of our Fellows are local scholars supported by our Local Faculty Fellow program, which provides financial assistance and professional development opportunities to early career academics. No other aspect of our project does more to ensure that our work will have lasting impact.
Ever since its inception, CEP has received substantial financial support from many wonderful donors. First among these has been the Higher Education Support Program of the Open Society Institute, without whose support, CEP would not have been possible. Many other foundations, corporations and individuals have made generous donations to our efforts and I want to thank them again for their assistance.
We ask all who are interested in establishing and maintaining an open democratic society in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to join us in this endeavor. I encourage you to read on in this Report, where you will find plenty of evidence for just how substantial the return on an investment in CEP can be. I am proud of the hundreds of individuals who have contributed anywhere between one and as many as nine years to the Civic Education Project. Their volunteer spirit, entrepreneurial skills, and commitment to our mission have sustained us since 1990, but we cannot continue our good work without your help.