Breaking Boundaries with ENGAGE! Project

Embarked on a transformative journey, the ENGAGE! the project, a trailblazing initiative by the Baltic Institute for Regional Affairs (BISER), has successfully concluded after 2.5 years of impactful endeavours.  Leveraging two decades of international cooperation experience and insights from the Umbrella project, ENGAGE! Co-financed thanks to EEA Gants revolutionized Baltic cross-border collaboration among NGO entities and civil society organisations in Poland and Norway.

At the core of ENGAGE! was a commitment to innovation, aiming to pioneer positive changes in Baltic cross-border NGO cooperation. The mission was to include inexperienced associations, transferring best practices, techniques, and tools to build a robust local community. The project’s durability was guaranteed by identifying local leaders through the “train-the-trainers” method, enhancing their competencies for international cooperation and embedding them within the Baltic NGO Network structure.

Project Partners:

Baltic Institute for Regional Affairs BISER (Leader)

Association of Polish Communes Euroregion Baltic – Polish Partner

Agder County Council (until Dec 2021 – South Norway European Office) – Norwegian Partner

Project Timeline: April 2021 to July 2023

Project financed thanks to EEA Grants, Active Citizens Fund in Poland

How We Made a Difference:

1. Empowering Local NGOs: Increased the innovativeness of small and medium-sized NGOs from Northern Poland through internationalization, integrating them into the Baltic Region’s transnational cooperation ecosystem.

2. Building Capacity: Strengthened the capacity of third-sector entities for transnational cooperation, co-creation, and partnerships with organizations from donor countries, emphasizing Norway.

3. Set an Example: Demonstrate that transnational activities are feasible even with voluntary efforts and limited finances, inspiring others to collaborate cross-borderly.

4. Tangible Outcomes: At least 50 local NGOs enhanced their cooperation capacity through participation in international networks, creating ten project partnerships, and fostering collaborations with public entities in Poland and/or Norway.

5. Elevated Knowledge and Innovation: Enriched the knowledge and innovation of at least 50 local third-sector actors through clear internationalization of their activities. Our Handbook in EN is available here:

6. Catalyzed Intercultural Dialogue: Facilitated hackathon projects with partners from Norway, Russia, and Iceland to encourage intercultural dialogue among NGOs, fostering community involvement in Baltic cooperation networks.

7. Long-Term Impact: Instigated a positive change process in Pomeranian and Warmian-Masurian NGOs, fostering internationalization and creating a conducive environment for broad cooperation.

8. Capacity Building: Our unique “train-the-trainers” concept identified local leaders, broadening the project’s impact to new groups and other NGOs. Materials available here:

The heartening highlight of this remarkable endeavour is the empowerment of over 50 Polish NGOs who received invaluable support in kickstarting their international collaborations with other NGOs. Through engaging in international meetings, immersive study visits, and participating in their first international projects with BISER’s guidance, these NGOs have not only grown but have also inspired change on a global scale!

What makes this achievement even more special is the approval of several project applications stemming from these collaborations. These projects, now in full swing, stand as tangible evidence of the incredible impact BISER has had on fostering international partnerships and initiatives.

A significant milestone of the ENGAGE project was the heightened awareness it brought to the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea region among civil society organizations in Poland and Norway. By nurturing a deep understanding of this strategy, we’ve laid the foundation for stronger collaborations, shared goals, and a united approach to regional challenges.

Let’s not forget the incredible boost in the capacities of civil society organizations in Northern Poland. BISER has not only facilitated connections but has also acted as a catalyst for growth, enabling organizations to amplify their impact and contribute meaningfully to societal development.

Having concluded six months ago, ENGAGE! is a testament to a new era of international collaboration, innovation, and positive change!

Project materials (in PL) prepared for the final conference on BSR cooperation:

Picture gallery from the final ENGAGE! project event: