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Citi Foundation launches program to empower disabled people in CE

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Citi Foundation today announced the launch of the new community program “Strengthening the Disability Movement in CE” to be implemented across five countries in Central Europe: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, starting in 2022.

The program will be rolled out in partnership with the European Disability Forum (EDF), an umbrella non-profit organization, led by persons with disabilities and their families, defending the interests of over 100 million persons with disabilities in Europe.

The program will support the capacity building of Disabled People’s Organizations across Central Europe in the areas of developing communication channels with disabled individuals, ensuring accessibility to EU-level international policies and programs, as well as youth leadership and opportunities.

Five local Disabled People Organizations in the above-mentioned countries and 150 people will be directly supported through the program and will benefit from a better awareness on their rights and opportunities, on the options to access EU funding and programs – especially for disabled youth – as well as networking events. Citi Foundation has donated USD 250,000, equally benefitting the countries, to support the goals of the program in 2022. In Hungary, the program will support the Hungarian National Council of Associations of People Disabilities with USD 50,000 in building their capacity to serve people with disabilities in the country by upgrading their communication systems, providing technical assistance in the assessment of national laws and policies, trainings on EU funding and advocacy, as well as youth engagement opportunities. 

“People with disabilities are an underserved segment of the population in Central Europe. An unacceptable percentage of them live in precarious conditions at the margin of society. It is critical to focus on improving the inclusion of people with disabilities. At Citi, we are committed to providing support for better access, appropriation of rights and empowerment. It is an ambitious program that aims to tackle an important social challenge and I am very proud that Citi Foundation is embarking on this journey in Central Europe”, said Munir Nanji, Central Europe cluster head at Citi.

Veronika Spanarova, Citi’s managing director, country head for Hungary added, "I am honored to be working at an organization that puts equal opportunities at the forefront of its core values and also acts on it in a very diligent manner. At Citi Hungary our Disability Network, initiated and led by employees on a voluntary basis, is working to provide thought leadership, advocacy, community access, and resources that ensure Citi is an employer of choice for people with disabilities. Their efforts have been recognized, as we have been awarded the Disability-friendly Workplace Recognition for the third time in 2021. We look forward to supporting the Hungarian National Council of Associations of People with Disabilities, and contribute to their activities with this donation as well as with the volunteer work of my colleagues."

"Building the strength of the Disability Movement in Europe and reaching young people with disabilities is one of EDF’s main priorities. Young people have been particularly hit by the pandemic. EDF is committed to working with our members to ensure all people with disabilities know their rights and can claim them. Europe will be stronger and more inclusive when we can all participate. We appreciate the strong commitment made by Citi Foundation to support our work," said Yannis Vardakastanis, EDF President.

The program is part of Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress, a global job skills-building initiative that addresses the persistent issue of youth unemployment. Through a combination of Citi Foundation philanthropic investments, Citi employee volunteers, career development opportunities at Citi, and research, Pathways to Progress aims to address the skills mismatch and equip young people, particularly those from underserved communities, with the skills and networks needed to succeed in today’s rapidly changing economy.

Since launching Pathways to Progress in 2014, the Citi Foundation has committed more than USD 330 million globally in workforce preparation, according to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal.

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