Eurasia Foundation began its program with Azerbaijan in 1994. Three years later, in 1997, the Foundation opened a representative office in Baku.
In 1998 Eurasia Foundation created the South Caucasus Cooperation Program (now the Cross-Border Program) to support increased cooperation between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. In 2001, the Foundation was given the Yusuf Mamedaliev Award for its contribution to the development of education and culture in Azerbaijan.
In 2003, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Caucasus Research Resource Centers was established in Azerbaijan to provide social science scholars and policy practitioners the opportunity for research, training and collaboration.
In 2006, the Foundation teamed with two local organizations, Bilik and “Buta” Children’s Humanitarian Organization, to increase public participation in the management and funding of secondary schools.
As part of its drive to establish legacy foundations throughout the region, Eurasia Foundation set up Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) as an independent organization in 2007. In Azerbaijan, EPF engages citizens through programs that concentrate on three specific areas: improving the transparency of municipalities, supporting unbiased media reporting and increasing civic engagement of Azeri youth.
EPF’s most active programs in Azerbaijan include:
- Open-Door Grants Program, through which EPF accepts unsolicited proposals from locally registered NGOs to support innovative projects that improve democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, transparency, and accountability in Azerbaijan. The program is run in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
- Municipal Management and Budget Transparency Program, which improves the accountability and strategic planning capacity of Azerbaijani municipalities through the systemized monitoring and evaluation of municipal structures. This program is financially supported by StatoilHydro.
- Armenia-Azerbaijan Media Bias Project, which seeks to increase accurate and unbiased reporting on Armenia-Azerbaijan relations by fostering a cooperative network of journalists, bloggers and media NGOs. This project has been funded by the British Embassies in Yerevan and Baku since 2008.
- Citizen Journalism E-Media Program, which focuses on improving media freedom in Azerbaijan and promoting freedom of expression by bolstering the capacity of citizens to use newmedia tools. This program is financially supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Azerbaijan Youth Fund Program, an innovative grant-making initiative which increases the capacity of young people, 16 to 30 years old, to engage in the development of their communities. Through comprehensive training, EPF teaches participants how to manage small pools of grant money that are distributed to support local youth-led development projects.
- Youth Economic Development Program, which creates economic and entrepreneurial opportunities for young community members in rural areas of Azerbaijan. Through this program young people acquire leadership and entrepreneurial skills and gain hands-on experience in starting their own businesses and implementing small economic projects.
- Getting Involved! Program, an EPF and Theodor-Heuss-Kolleg of Robert Bosch Stiftung (Germany) initiative, which strengthens civic engagement among young people in the South Caucasus. This project provides young people an opportunity to advance personally and professionally, take responsibility for improving their communities and develop their management skills. The cross-border context enables participants to acquire cross-cultural communication skills and meet their peers from neighboring countries.
- Caucasus Research Resource Centers is a network of resource, research and training centers in the capital cities of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, which aim to strengthen social science research and public policy analysis in the South Caucasus.
The Transparency in Municipal Service Delivery Program has guided 30 municipalities through strategic planning and public outreach efforts and has educated over 150 principal staff about efficient policy creation and public transparency. Since the Youth Fund Program was launched in 2006, more than 100 youth-led community projects addressing gender inequity, environmental issues, and other social needs have been undertaken.
Through the Youth Economic Development Program, EPF has supported around 70 youth-led initiatives, such as providing trainings on computer skills for children in orphanages, opening an internet café for girls, and starting a carpet weaving initiative. Currently, the program engages approximately 60 young people who comprise 9 Youth Funds in 8 regions of the country.
Since 1998, the South Caucasus Cross-Border Program has invested over $6 million in grants and technical assistance to the South Caucasus by supporting more than 150 trilateral projects in areas such as independent media, economic development, environmental protection, and public policy development.
The Passenger, a joint Armenian-Azerbaijani short documentary produced as part of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Media Bias Project, was watched by over 5,000 viewers on-line. This initiated discussions on conflict and reconciliation between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagorny Karabakh.
EPF has developed a comprehensive set of over 100 indicators within a Municipal Performance Management System (MPMS) to assess the performance and capacities of municipal structures in strategic planning and public outreach activities. EPF is currently working with 10 municipalities across the country and is advocating for utilization of MPMS as a national performance measurement system.