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Czech journalist Michal Komárek and ROMEA win Vodafone Foundation grant

Prague, 31.10.2014 21:24, (ROMEA)
"Rok jinak" (One Year Differently) is the Czech Republic's version of the Vodafone Foundation's global "World of Difference" program, which is running successfully in more than 20 countries worldwide from Ghana to New Zealand.

This year's round of the Czech Vodafone Foundation's grant program saw 64 applicants. There were 12 projects in the final round whose authors presented their intentions to the expert jury.  

Among the six grantees selected is journalist Michal Komárek, who will beef up the team of the ROMEA organization. "I want to create a critical, factual, reliable media outlet together with the ROMEA nonprofit to cover the relationship between the majority part of society and Romani people. I think ROMEA has what it takes to fulfill the ideal of a quality media outlet," Komárek said earlier regarding his participation.    

Two projects also competed this year for the so-called "Wild Card" grant, one about birth and the other about death. The voting was participated in by almost 15 000 people.

After a tense competition between the themes of birth and death, the winning project, called "Different Way" (Jak jinak), is authored by Anna Vršník and the A Center. The project won 5 453 votes from the public, beating a project authored by Ondřej Nezbeda and the Hospice Civic Association The Way Home.

One computer programmer, journalists, and managers of big firms will now bring their experience from the commercial sphere to the nonprofit one next year thanks to the grants. As of January 2015, six professionals will begin working at six Czech nonprofits and will be paid their usual professional salaries.

The Vodafone Foundation's grant program links business and nonprofits, helping to apply good practices from the commercial sector to the nonprofit one and vice versa. Experienced professionals from the commercial or state spheres can give their careers a new direction and purpose by being employed bzy the nonprofits they partner with.

The professionals' current salaries are paid for by the foundation in their new jobs. They acquire more experience and their activity has a clear, positive impact on specific people.  

For their party, the nonprofits acquire an experienced and motivated professional who brings them new know-how and solutions during the year. "Different Year" (Rok jinak) is a unique program that is transforming the nonprofit sector in the Czech Republic toward greater independence and self-sufficiency.  

The people involved in the program change others' lives. More than 70 professionals have undergone the foundation's "Different Year" (Rok jinak) and "Different Step" (kRok jinak) programs.

"I'm glad we have succeeded this year in attracting people with high personal motivation and strong life stories to commit one year of work to a specific project in a nonprofit that needs them. When evaluating the requests, the expert jury focused on the impact of the projects and the relevancy of the know-how of the professionals to the needs of the nonprofits. We view these grants as social investment and we are therefore very interested in their concrete returns, which do not necessarily have to consist of a financial effect on the nonprofit, but precisely in their societal impacts. Another project that succeeded was written by Zbyněk Helcl and the Charter 77 Foundation, focusing on open data providing information about the wheelchair accessibility of places in the Czech Republic. We want to dedicate ourselves at the foundation to this direction, of technology serving society, for the long term," says Ondřej Zapletal, director of the Vodafone Foundation.      

Projects supported through the 2015 "Different Year" grants

Anna Vršník - A centrum ( (A Center)

Anna works as a Senior Process Manager for the KBC Group. She has connected with the A Center organization, which is dedicated to pregnant women and women in labor. A Center prepares both current and future parents for the periods of pregnancy, birth and an infant's early childhood, helping to humanize the process of giving birth in the Czech Republic by liberalizing the conditions for pregnant women and women in labor and expanding their options.  

Anna wants to work on the "Different Way" (Jak jinak) program, which the A Center initiated and which other organizations are involved in as well. Together with them, she will prepare a comprehensive model for primary birth care for submission to the Czech Health Ministry. She will also launch an accredited extension course for educating midwives. Her aim is for the first 20 students to join such a course in September 2015. The "Different Way" project endeavors to improve the comfort of women in labor in the Czech Republic overall  and to save money in the health care system.

The expert jury also agreed to support another five projects after conducting interviews on 29 October:

Eliška Bártová - Naši politici o.s. ( ("Our Politicians")

Eliška wants to use her 14 years of experience as a reporter for the Czech dailies Aktuálně.cz, Mladá fronta DNES and the RESPEKT weekly to work for the Naši politici o.s. organization, which runs the analytical portal with the aim of revealing political corruption and making the state subsidy process transparent (compiling structured CVs of politicians, covering their economic activity, and monitoring media coverage of them); (a database of those receiving EU subsidies and other public contracts); and (providing a "searchable" online version of the Czech state budget).

Eliška will be tasked with transforming the analytical information available to the "Our Politicians" organization into a user-friendly source for the media and the wider public by establishing a Center for Investigative Journalism. She will investigate and report on corruption in politics herself and will participate in defining and promoting elements of good public administration. The aim is to publish between six and eight essential articles and three case studies, as well as to establish a system for processing such information for the media and handing it over to employees of the organization.  

Michal Komárek - ROMEA, o.p.s. (,

Michal works as an editor at the Czech monthly Literární noviny and has previously worked for the weeklies Reflex, RESPEKT and the Liberec edition of the daily Mladá Fronta DNES. During his year with the nonprofit organization Romea, which for more than 10 years has worked to build mutual trust between the majority society and the Romani community through education and information, he wants to change the portal into the best-informed, most reliable source of information on Romani issues, a source that will be both critical and factual. He will measure the success of his projects not just by increasing the number of people visiting the news server by 15 %, but also by increasing the number of times is cited by the relevant statewide media by 15 % and increasing the number of its external contributors by 50 %.  

Ondřej Nezbeda - Hospicové občanské sdružení Cesta domů ( ("Hospice Civic Association The Way Home")

Ondřej manages the Interview and Literary Review columns at the weekly RESPEKT; this year he also edited Ondřej Kundra's biography "Meda Mládková: Můj úžasný život" ("Meda Mládková: My Wonderful Life") and applied for the "Different Year" grant together with the Cesta domů association, which aids the terminally ill and dying in coping with their situations, caring for them in their natural environment and offering support to their loved ones. The group is also endeavoring to transform Czech society's relationship toward death and dying.  

Ondřej wants to perform the role of media coordinator for Cesta domů. He will be responsible for making sure the organization doubles its media coverage compared to 2014, that it initiaties significantly more articles, and that at least 100 000 people actively seek information about dying and palliative care from it during 2015. His work will also consist of collecting data as well as the fates and stories of terminally ill clients for a book, "A Mortal's Guide" (Průvodce smrtelníka), which is to be a comprehensive guide to living with terminal illness in which the affected families and the broader public will find assistance. There is currently no such book on the Czech market.  

Anna Schlindenbuch - BONA, o.p.s. (

For more than 10 years, Anna has been working in advertising and marketing. For the last four years she has worked as a Senior ATL & ATL Specialist for Vodafone. She applied for the grant together with the Prague-based nonprofit BONA, which strives to include people with mental disabilities into society and improve the quality of their lives. The organization runs glassmaking and textile workshops that are therapeutic. Anna's aim is to revise their product portfolio, improve their sales channels and turn their "Double World" (Dvojí svět) shop on Žitná Street in Prague into a functioning social enterprise, a living space where courses in stained glass and exhibitions will take place. The aim of the project is to double the organization's turnover during the first year, increase its profit margin and ensure stable jobs for 18 people in the therapeutic workshops.  

Zbyněk Helcl - Charter 77 Foundation - Konto Bariéry (

Zbyněk has been working as the operations director for the EGK, s.r.o. firm. His experience is in work as a computer programmer, IT specialist and  project manager. Together with the Charter 77 Foundation and Konto Bariéry he has developed a project called "Maps without Barriers". The aim is to create a unified database on wheelchair accessibility in which users will find high-quality data on wheelchair accessibility throughout the Czech Republic in a unified, machine-readable format for free. The portal will use the data to show wheelchair accessibility on the website of maps of the Czech Republic. The data will also serve many other organizations and their applications and projects, such as, and others. This will be a coherent technological project that will contribute useful open data to the Czech internet environment.

About the "Different Year" (Rok jinak) grant

The Vodafone Foundation has been awarding the "Different Year" grant to between seven and 10 recipients a year since 2009. It is the Czech variant of Vodafone's international World of Difference program, which runs in 21 countries. A total of 36 winning applicant-nonprofit pairs have been awarded since it first launched. Together they have succeeded, for example, in launching the donor portal, building the Open Garden in Brno (the Czech Republic's first green passive energy-designed administration building), launching the fresh pasta production company Pasta Fidli, etc.

About the Vodafone Foundation in the Czech Republic

The Vodafone Foundation was created in the year 2006 and is financed by the Vodafone Group and the Vodafone Czech Republic a.s. company. It is one of the most generous corporate foundations in the Czech Republic. During its eight years of existence it has distributed more than CZK 140 million to nonprofit projects throughout the country.  

voj,, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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