2020 has been a year in which we all had different experiences due to the pandemic that affected the whole world. We have gone through a time when different strategies were developed, and new practices emerged for civil society as well.
In order to ease the struggle of civil society against the COVID-19 crisis at this time and to ensure the continuation of existing works in culture and arts and social change, our Foundation prioritized keeping all its support uninterrupted throughout this period, believing in the significance of bringing flexibility to the philanthropy ecosystem. Playing once more a prominent role, we signed the pledges prepared by the European Foundation Centre (EFC) and Council on Foundations (COF), international institutions we are a member of, to fight the outbreak.
In line with these commitments, we maintained our uninterrupted support for both our grant programs and our institutions and also kept providing our support in other areas such as scholarships and awards. Furthermore, for our achievements not to reverse in the field of women, which has been the most deeply affected at this significant time and has been the priority of our Foundation, we organized an online meeting with the broad participation of institutions working in this field.
Within the framework of our Grant Programs, we offered our support to NGOs working to empower women, youth and persons with disabilities so that they can have equal opportunities and take an active role in society. Thanks to a total of 173 projects that we supported by the end of 2020, we touched the lives of 223 thousand people directly and more than 900 thousand indirectly. The meeting we have each year in October with the institutions that receive our grants was held online this year.
It also has been a year when we took significant steps in our joint projects with the Ministry of National Education. As we completed our project that reached 9 thousand rural teachers together with the Ministry of National Education and Rural Schools Transformation Network Association, we launched another joint project aimed at the occupational development of English teachers. We also began to spread the school climate improvement model put in place in pilot schools, which are institutions of our Foundation, to other public schools.
As of the end of 2020, we have reached a total of 195 Changemakers with our Changemakers Program, which aims to inspire society by promoting the stories and work of extraordinary people who contribute to social development in Turkey.
By hosting the 13th of Sabancı Foundation Philanthropy Seminar themed “Is Everybody Online? – Technology for Social Change”, we discussed in detail how technology influences our focus groups, namely women, youth, and persons with disabilities. With many distinguished speakers, we assessed the effects of technology both in terms of the ways it contributes to disadvantaged groups and also the ways it reveals inequalities.
The Rabbit Papuduk book series, intended for children and created with the themes of animal love and environmental consciousness, was a new activity we completed in 2020 and we received very good feedback.
Organized with the motto of “Short Film, Long Impact” aiming to raise awareness about social issues by making use of the creative perspective of cinema and its power of influence, we gave awards for the fourth series of our Short Film Competition under the theme “Digital Loneliness” and held the fifth one with the theme “Changing Climate, Changing Lives” bringing attention to a crucial problem again from the perspective of young film makers.
Without suspending our scholarships, we gave scholarships to nearly 1,500 students, around 300 of whom were new.
We held the second Scholars Meeting with the participation of former and current scholarship recipients of the Foundation. In a panel of the meeting, we shared the benefits of the mentorship program initiated in 2019 and mentor-mentee achievements with scholarship students.
As the founder, we continued to support Sabancı University with their operating and investment expenses in 2020, just as we do every year.
In the area of international relations, we were elected once again to the Board of Directors of the European Foundation Centre (EFC), of which we are a member.
Being aware that we will have more duties in 2021 during and after the pandemic, I believe we will carry on with our activities with a vision to create lasting impact, by developing models aimed at addressing the problems in our work areas that can spread further, and with new collaborations and sustainable and innovative approaches. I would like to thank the members of our Board of Trustees, our donors, our team at the Foundation, and all our stakeholders who have lent us their support and encouragement.
Chair, Board of Trustees