Strengthening language, culture and critical thinking in the Armenian world
The threat of assimilation of the Western Armenian language and culture in the Diaspora, and the difficulty to address major national problems in a critically engaged manner in Armenia are two critical challenges facing Armenians. That is why the Armenian Communities Department focuses on strengthening Armenian language, culture, education, and identity in the Diaspora, and on fostering research and critical thinking in Armenia.
We are financially and politically independent, working with a broad network of partners. We support and develop innovative initiatives and projects based on a decades-long experience and a track-record of philanthropic work in many countries. As such, we are ideally positioned to address difficult challenges and to have a lasting positive impact on the long-term sustainability of Armenian communities worldwide.
Our value-added is rooted in our unique diaspora-centric approach, while our mission statement and programming reflect the duality of the Armenian world: Diaspora and Armenia.
The goal of the Armenian Communities Department is to have sustainable diasporan communities, where Armenian culture, identity and education are stronger, and to enhance open-minded critical engagement on national issues in Armenia.
In the Diaspora, we focus on Western Armenian (a threatened language) and on cultural creativity, which are essential for sustainable communities. Pioneering pedagogic tools, capable teachers and better schools, as well as increased technological innovation for and in Western Armenian, are needed to achieve this goal.
In Armenia, we focus on research support and translations. Good, balanced and evidence-based research, as well as translation into Armenian of internationally important texts, lead to greater ability to address key national problems, broaden critical thinking and prepare a solid basis for policy development.
We also provide hundreds of university scholarships every year, investing in future intellectuals, scholars and leaders. Approximately 50 to 80 project grants are given per year, in varying sizes (from 2,000 to 250,000 Euros), and new university scholarships are provided to nearly 150 university students and researchers on a yearly basis.
Grant-making is organised in three forms: (i) identifying needs and finding appropriate partners to develop and implement specific initiatives, (ii) open calls for project proposals throughout the year, and (iii) targeted prizes in specific domains.
Our direct beneficiaries range from schoolchildren to established intellectuals, from civil society organisations to universities. In any given year, projects and individuals are supported in 15-20 countries. The ultimate beneficiaries are Armenians throughout the world who care about the language and the culture of the Diaspora, who want to maintain their identity as Armenians, and who want to work for and live in an open and democratic society in Armenia.
Investing in teacher development and innovative pedagogic tools, supporting language acquisition programmes for all ages, providing targeted aid to diasporan schools, financing relevant publications (with an emphasis on digital publications) and their dissemination, and promoting technology-related language initiatives.
Giving a central position to culture as a tool for social transformation and creativity in Western Armenian, placing emphasis on younger people to create cultural content in the language while critically engaging with the world, encouraging people to draw on various sources of cultural and linguistic inspiration to become advocates for positive change.
Strengthening research and critical engagement with current issues that are of paramount importance to the Armenian world by identifying and supporting major policy-oriented research projects in Armenia, as well as providing institutional support to research centres, and supporting translations into Armenian of noteworthy international publications.
Supporting students and younger researchers to pursue higher education, with a particular focus on Armenian Studies and contemporary issues at the graduate level. Scholarships are granted in several categories in open calls: Armenian Studies (at the Masters and PhD levels); short-term Armenian Studies research grants; Armenian university students in/from developing countries; short term conference and travel grants for students and researchers in Armenia; Armenian students studying in Portugal.
Having the ability to address unexpected situations or to seize opportunities that enhance our strategic objectives is an essential tool to ensure flexibility and quick responses to changing circumstances. Providing emergency aid in situations of humanitarian crises is one example. It is also important to support unforeseen initiatives that contribute to reaching the Department’s stated goal.
On occasion, we provide modest funding to Armenian-related initiatives in Portugal and organise Armenian culture-related activities.
The Department is headquartered in Lisbon, Portugal, and has a Focal Point in Lebanon. It delivers its activities in partnership with organisations and individuals in Armenia and the Diaspora working towards similar goals.
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