CeRe has been established in 2006, as the independent continuation of the civic program of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Romania. National Democratic Institute, a US based organization, is working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. Funded mostly by US Agency for International Development, NDI supported CeRe’s establishment and funded a start up program, to build a legacy of its work in Romania.
Soon after that, the US Embassy in Romania approved a small grant for CeRe to work in two local communities assisting the town halls and citizens to create better instruments for communication.
In the meantime, CeRe developed its own strategy and managed to raise funds from both European and US donors – Trust for Civil Society in Central and Easter Europe, Open Society Institute, Balkan Trust for Democracy, Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, Phare Programme for Civil Society, Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. In the last few years, CeRe’s annual budgets ranged from US 250,000 to US 500,000, as follows – 2007, total income: US250,000; 2008, total income US250,000; 2009, total income: US500,000. CeRe has a staff of eight full time employees and also works with free lance trainers and consultants specialized on a wide variety of topics.
In its efforts to enforce citizens’ involvement in making public decisions, CeRe often chose to work with minority groups having a weaker representation and lacking capacity to advocate for their rights. Working directly with citizens or through partner NGOs, CeRe helped campaigns around issues related with the Rroma minority, people with mental disabilities, physically disabled children or adults, people suffering from Parkinson disease, children with autism. Through these campaigns, not only these groups achieve concrete changes for their lives (desegregation in schools, a park replacing an illegal garbage disposal area, a Kino therapist for a daycare center), but they win more space in the decision making process.
As a resource center, CeRe has been providing training and consultancy to a variety of NGOs working country wide on different issues, from minority to environment. CeRe is also working in partnership with leading NGOs in Romania and is part of many Romanian and international coalitions and networks working for human rights, for more openness and accountability of the government and for increased citizen participation. CeRe also coordinates the efforts of the Coalition NGOs for structural funds – a group of well known NGOs fighting for a transparent and efficient use of the European money allocated to Romania by the European Union.
Among CeRe’s partners: Civil Society Development Foundation, Pro Democracy Association, National Association for Children and Adults with Autism, the Network of Local Councils of Youth, “Together” Agency for Community Development, Media Monitoring Agency – Active Watch, Partnership for Community Action and Transformation Foundation, National Association of Citizens Advisory Bureaus, Anti-Parkinson Association.