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The Foundation was established by the Polish-American Enterprise Fund organized in 1990, following the Support for the East European Democracy Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1989.

 

The Freedom Foundation, which is governed by an independent Board of Directors, launched its operations in 2000 with a double mission: to help consolidate the results of the Polish transformation nationally and to share the Polish experience with other post-communist countries in the region.

 

PAFF pursues its goals through programs implemented in three thematic areas:
- initiatives in education,
- development of local communities,
- sharing the Polish experiences in transformation.

 

The Foundation’s programs in Poland focus on rural areas and small towns. Two issues dominate: leveling the playing field in education, combined with its modernization, as well as unleashing and supporting citizens’ potential in local communities. From the beginning the Foundation has shaped its programs in such a way that they could mutually complement and strengthen each other. Great attention is also paid to making sure that the projects supported by the Foundation have potential for replication and that the initiatives undertaken can continue to develop after the termination of financial aid from PAFF.

 

The Foundation’s activities were recognized by the International Economic Forum in Krynica, where it received the Award for Eastern and Central European Non-governmental Organization of 2008, mainly for PAFF’s undertakings outside Poland. Among these, the Foundation has provided the most funding to the “Region in Transition (RITA)” Program, which involves the transfer of Polish experiences and the development of relations between Polish civic organizations, local government authorities and other institutions and partners in the East.

 

In 2008 the Polish-American Freedom Foundation became a partner of the largest non-governmental grant-giving institution in the world - the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Thanks to the “Library Development Program” nearly 4,000 Polish libraries, mainly rural, are transforming into modern centers of information, education, culture and civic activity with free access to the Internet. The Program is implemented by the Information Society Development Foundation, established by PAFF in 2008. In 2012 the Information Society Development Foundation was presented with the “E-Inclusion Award” by the European Commission, which awards individuals and organizations implementing initiatives aimed at promoting good practices in the use of ICT and counteracting digital exclusion.

 

Since 2000, the Foundation has spent over $169 million on its activities and the assets of the endowment exceed $255 million. Thirty programs have been implemented and within their frameworks nearly 27,000 scholarships have been awarded, 12,000 local projects with the participation of hundreds of thousands of people have been financed, and training courses for 65,000 teachers as well as 21,000 leaders and nongovernmental organizations’ employees have been organized. Nearly 8,000 people from Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Georgia, Moldova and other countries have taken part in the study tours to Poland.

 

The Foundation is constantly developing and it wishes to remain open and flexible, to react to changing needs and conditions and to find new partners as well as to ensure that its activities embrace ever wider social circles, particularly in rural areas and small towns. It supports and undertakes initiatives to lead Poland to become a more modern and affluent country whose citizens, irrespective of their place of residence and status, can fulfill their life aspirations.