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Citi Foundation Invests USD 250,000 in European Disability Forum in Central Europe

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Munir Nanji

Citi Foundation has announced the launch of a new USD 250,000 community program called “Strengthening the Disability Movement in CE” to be implemented across five countries in Central Europe: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, starting in 2022.

In Hungary, the program, announced across the region on Feb. 3, will support the Hungarian National Council of Associations of People with Disabilities.

The regional 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, representing the interests of more than 100 million persons with disabilities in Europe.

The Citi Foundation program aims to support disabled persons’ organizations in each of the five nations in developing communication channels, ensuring accessibility to EU-level international policies and programs, as well as boosting youth leadership and opportunities. Some 150 people will be directly supported through the Citi Foundation program.

“People with disabilities are an underserved segment of the population in Central Europe. An unacceptable percentage of them live in precarious conditions at the margins of society,” explains Munir Nanji, the Central Europe cluster head at Citi.

“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,” Nanji says.

Veronika Spanarova, managing director and country head for Hungary, points out that Citi Hungary has an internal Disability Network, initiated and led by employee volunteers, intending to make the business an employer of choice for people with disabilities. The company was 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 contributing to their activities with this donation as well as with the volunteer work of my colleagues,” Spanarova says.

Priorities

“Building the strength of the Disability Movement in Europe and reaching young people with disabilities is one of EDF’s main priorities,” says Yannis Vardakastanis, the EDF president.

“The pandemic has particularly hit young people. 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,” Vardakastanis adds.

The “Strengthening the Disability Movement in CE” program is part of Citi Foundation’s “Pathways to Progress” scheme, a global initiative launched in 2014 to build job skills 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 launch, the Citi Foundation has committed more than USD 330 million globally in workforce preparation for the “Pathways” scheme.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of February 11, 2022.

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