Athens Partnership - two years of impact

The Athens Partnership, a nonprofit organization established in 2015 to address pressing needs exacerbated by the economic crisis through public-private collaboration, released its first Biennial Report detailing outcomes to date. Twenty-four public schools remodeled; 25 schools opened with free community activities; 6,000 sq meters of graffiti removed in the city center; and the development of an online case management system serving 40,000 beneficiaries – these are just a few of the results a new wave of public-private initiatives has achieved for the City of Athens. The Athens Partnership estimate over 70,000 Athenians have been directly impacted as a result of its programs to date.

In partnership with the Municipality of Athens and theTechnical University of Crete, and with a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Athens Partnership launched “Designed for Better Learning”, transforming 24 schools, inside and out.

In partnership with the Municipality of Athens and theTechnical University of Crete, and with a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Athens Partnership launched “Designed for Better Learning”, transforming 24 schools, inside and out.

“The Athens Partnership is helping to drive change and advance city priorities at an unprecedented pace,” said Mayor Georgios Kaminis. “This new model is not only facilitating impactful new programs, it is also helping the City of Athens to reimagine its public spaces and deliver services more effectively.”

Τhe Chanion multi-service clinic was the first public clinic to offer health and social services under one roof, free for all.

Τhe Chanion multi-service clinic was the first public clinic to offer health and social services under one roof, free for all.

“The Athens Partnership’s scope has gone far beyond channeling aid rapidly and transparently to address pressing needs. AP projects are now offering model solutions to chronic problems in Athens, as well as helping create new opportunities for the city’s rebirth. Thanks to lead support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, our partner and donor base has now grown to encompass individuals, foundations and companies who want to offer funds and expertise to achieve effective public-private partnerships with lasting impact”, says Alexandros Kambouroglou, Executive Director of the Athens Partnership.

2015-2017 results include:

  • Collaborated with school community to remodel 24 public schools (impacting 4,215 students and teachers), providing not only upgraded physical spaces but helping build a personal bond between students and their schools and creatively reimagining learning activities.

  • Transformed the city’s Commercial Triangle from an overcrowded central neighborhood into a model city center by cleaning 6.000 sq metres of graffiti, pedestrianizing streets, and incorporating public art, while engaging participation from the local community to ensure sustainability.

The Commercial Triange project is removing tags, cleaning and pedestrianizing streets and engaging the local community to create a model city center in Athens.

The Commercial Triange project is removing tags, cleaning and pedestrianizing streets and engaging the local community to create a model city center in Athens.

  • Organized the pilot operation of a municipal health clinic in Kypseli, central Athens, which for the first time provides health and social services under one roof, free of charge (15,000 residents served to date).

  • Enhanced the City’s refugee response through the creation of the Athens Coordination Center for Migrant and Refugee Issues (ACCMR) by bringing together 75 organizations to strategically address needs. The ACCMR is the first of its kind in the country.

  • Strengthened economic development through a new Athens Tourism Partnership (ATP), bringing together Aegean Airlines, Athens International Airport and the Hellenic Initiative, that supported a multi-media campaign reaching over 34 million potential travelers. Through the ATP's Greeters program, 124 volunteers personally welcomed over 70,000 visitors at key city hubs.

Read our Biennial Report here.

Strengthening Athens through Partnership

In addition to its antiquities, Greece is renowned for its severe economic crisis and the accompanying frightening statistics that demonstrate its harsh impact on residents: 50% unemployment rate among young residents; 15% living in extreme poverty. In addition, beginning in 2015 Greece was faced with an international humanitarian crisis as fleeing refugees flocked to the country, further draining the country’s limited resources.

The creation of the Athens Partnership strengthened Municipal services, by forging alliances with private sector partners.

The creation of the Athens Partnership strengthened Municipal services, by forging alliances with private sector partners.

With the public sector under huge strain, cutting down even on the most basic services, many Greeks in and outside of the country stepped up and asked, “How can I help?” Unfortunately, good intentions and a desire to help do not always translate to impactful and lasting results. When it comes to philanthropy, many challenges stand in the way, such as how to coordinate and direct private investments in an efficient and effective way, and how to make meaningful and sustainable change. Enter: The Athens Partnership (AP), which was formed in 2015 to tackle these challenges and to leverage the existing services and resources of local government.

An early advocate for the AP model, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation committed 10 million euro to support the Municipality of Athens and entrusted AP to administer its generous grant for the benefit of Athenians. After two years, AP launched over a dozen impactful programs garnering the support of many donors and project partners. Our Biennial Report features a robust description of the cross-sector programs launched in coordination with the City of Athens and the outcomes to date. What is more difficult to convey is how AP has helped to rethink and reawaken some of the City’s essential services, developing a new framework for collaboration, transparency, and accountability.

Transformational programs: in Designed for Better Learning schools, 77% of students report leaving school happy.

Transformational programs: in Designed for Better Learning schools, 77% of students report leaving school happy.

For instance, Designed for Better Learning could have been a simple renovation of public school buildings in dire need of attention, however, working with the Technical University of Crete, we reimagined a new way of teaching, learning and community engagement. Twenty-four schools (5% of City schools) were transformed and new activities, co-created with students, were embedded such as IT training and DIY construction. AP has received over 40 requests to replicate this program.

Transformational results were also achieved in our Commercial Triangle initiative, which helped turn around a crowded city center filled with tags into a new vibrant area, boosting business conditions and attracting tourism. It took cleaning 6.000 square meters of walls and storefronts, removing illegally parked cars, creating new pedestrian streets, and most importantly, working closely with local business owners and residents on every step to ensure success and sustainability.

Reshaping the heart of Athens: the Commercial Triangle program is removing tags and cleaning walls and storefronts, creating new pedestrian streets, in cooperation with local business owners.

Reshaping the heart of Athens: the Commercial Triangle program is removing tags and cleaning walls and storefronts, creating new pedestrian streets, in cooperation with local business owners.

Addressing one the most pressing emergencies in Athens, the Athens Partnership became a catalyst to public and private efforts assisting refugees and migrants. The creation of the Athens Coordination Center for Migrant and Refugee Issues enabled the City of Athens to assume a proactive role in the coordination of 75 NGOs and government agencies—helping to identify gaps, avoid duplication of efforts, promoting the integration of migrants and refugees as well as preparing for a possible future emergency. This program has fundamentally begun to change the way resources are channeled to address the refugee crisis, building synergies between private and public sector partners.

Above all, the success of the Athens Partnership is good news for the City Athens and its residents—new and old. As noted in our Biennial Report, over 70,000 Athenians have been directly served by the work of the Athens Partnership since its launch. We are confident this is only the beginning.

We are deeply thankful to our growing list of partners and donors committed to the health and well-being of Athenians and our country. In spite of the challenges we face, we can only be optimistic about the future: by harnessing this powerful mix, there are no limits to what our City can achieve ahead!

 

Promoting migrant and refugee integration in Athens through work opportunities

More than 180 representatives of organizations, institutions, private companies and beneficiaries participated in the event "We live together - We work together", organized by the Livelihoods Committee of the Athens Coordination Center for Migrant and Refugee issues (ACCMR). ACCMR started operation in June 2017 with founding donor the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and with the coordination of the Athens Partnership and today is made up of 80 member-organizations.

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The event was organized by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Solidarity Now, Caritas Hellas, Metadrasi, Praksis, Generation 2.0, Organization Earth, Home, Melissa and Entrepreneurship Academy. The event explored the creation of the right conditions for the integration of immigrants, refugees and socially vulnerable groups through employment, and the importance of these efforts for all Athens residents.

"Access to the labor market is one of the major pillars of the integration process. The challenge for Greece, a country with an official unemployment rate of over 20%, is to find ways to facilitate migrant integration. It is important in this endeavor that stakeholders promote the concept of social cohesion, in order to benefit host communities as well", said Vice Mayor for Migrants and Refugees of the Municipality of Athens, Lefteris Papayannakis.

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In the context of two open roundtable discussions, it was stressed that efforts to integrate refugees and immigrants involve the well-being of the whole city, not just those specific groups. Also, support services must embrace all vulnerable groups, whether they are new or old residents of Athens.

The discussion highlighted the importance of the initiative undertaken by the Athens Coordination Center for Migrant and Refugee issues. The ACCMR aims to offer better coordination between the municipality and organizations, helping to prepare for potential new emergency situations and to promote the smooth integration of the migration and refugee population in the city of Athens.

Video by solomon.gr -- Filmed by Reza Goldadi & Fanis Kollias Edited by Vassilia Sofroniou

Ηumans of Commercial Triangle: Τhe koulouri street vendor of downtown Athens

The Commercial Triangle program aims to regenerate the heart of downtown Athens. The area has a strong commercial character and is full of family businesses that go back almost 100 years. The real protagonists of the area however, are its people. Retailers who sell door knobs, lace and fabric, jewellery materials and ecclesiastical items, residents, but also publishers, booksellers, architects, graphic designers, painters, photographers and dance teachers scattered in ateliers and dance studios. We are currently running a series entitled “Humans of Commercial Triangle” which regularly features on the Athens Trigono facebook page. We feel that these portraits perfectly encapsulate the spirit of the neighborhood.

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Our most popular profile so far is Iosif Konstantinou a koulouri street vendor. Koulouri, a Greek breakfast street food staple is a plain, circular bread topped with sesame seeds and it’s usually sold at kiosks in Athens’ streets. The industry for street vendors is strictly regulated with special licenses for specific spots, granted by the Municipality of Athens. This is Iosif’s story.

“I'm the newest koulouri vendor in the area. I started a little more than a year ago. Me and my wife managed to get a koulouri-vendor license. I used to work in an IT company, but now I am holding down two jobs. I am at this exact spot every morning selling koulouri from 6.00 am until 14.00. From here I move on to my second job as a receptionist where I finish at 20.00 in the evening.

When I first started selling koulouri I was almost desperate. It was hard. I remember this one Saturday, where I only sold 25 pieces. As time has gone by though, things have gotten better and I am feeling optimistic. I always try to win my clients over. I get my koulouri delivered every few hours so that it’s always fresh and warm. I sell more on weekdays than the weekends. Koulouri is best eaten at a desk in an office! The tourists in Athens- Germans, Turks, Russians, Chinese- are curious they always stop and ask me about koulouri- what is is, how it is made. They like taking pictures but they don’t always try the goods! I sample my koulouri on a daily basis. I want it to be really good every single day”.

The City that Invented Democracy is Reinventing it for the 21st Century and Beyond

Today, data and technology are re-inventing how cities function. Cities across the globe are trying to crack the code on how to best leverage the new opportunities these advances present, to better respond to their residents and support local businesses. As Principal of the Digital Strategies practice at Bloomberg Associates, a global philanthropic consulting firm, I see this first-hand around the world and in our work with the City of Athens.

The City of Athens is working with Bloomberg Associates to apply best practices from cities around the world and to develop programs that will improve the quality of life of Athenians. (Pictured: Athens Mayor Kaminis and Katherine Oliver. )

The City of Athens is working with Bloomberg Associates to apply best practices from cities around the world and to develop programs that will improve the quality of life of Athenians. (Pictured: Athens Mayor Kaminis and Katherine Oliver. )

I was proud to be in Athens this month speaking alongside Mayor Kaminis and Europe’s first-ever municipal Chief Digital Officer, Konstantinos Champidis, at the launch of the Athens Digital Roadmap, a strategic plan for Athens to build upon their digital offerings by expanding internet access, increasing transparency, and engaging residents through digital technologies.

Under the bold leadership of Mayor Kaminis, Athens has embraced the belief that municipal government can use digital tools and communications to be as effective as the private sector by adopting a customer-focused mind-set, constantly measuring progress, and adapting one's strategy to reflect changing market demands. Mayor Kaminis also understands that this requires a plan and partnerships to accomplish these goals.

Europe’s first-ever municipal Chief Digital Officer, Konstantinos Champidis, and Todd Asher from Bloomberg Associates welcome attendees to the Roadmap launch.

Europe’s first-ever municipal Chief Digital Officer, Konstantinos Champidis, and Todd Asher from Bloomberg Associates welcome attendees to the Roadmap launch.

Against the backdrop of challenging economic and social challenges, Mayor Kaminis has forged ahead, steadily developing Athens’ digital foundations. In 2015, the Athens Partnership was launched to be a catalyst for innovative public programs, and to create partnerships between the city and the private sector. The following year, Mayor Kaminis appointed Europe’s first-ever municipal Chief Digital Officer to spearhead the municipality’s digital initiatives. Together they launched the Athens Digital Council, a strategic advisory body that brings together leaders of the largest digital and telecommunications companies in Greece, as well as distinguished professors from leading Greek universities, to advise the municipality on cost-effective ways to harness technology. These partnerships – with leaders that are household names not only in Greece but around the world – are truly unprecedented.

As Principal of the Media and Digital Strategies practice at Bloomberg Associates, I have the privilege of working with cities around the globe in their efforts to modernize and embrace the opportunities that technology offers.

As Principal of the Media and Digital Strategies practice at Bloomberg Associates, I have the privilege of working with cities around the globe in their efforts to modernize and embrace the opportunities that technology offers.

The launch of the Athens Digital Roadmap marks another significant milestone in this journey. This strategy outlines projects centered on the digital priority areas of the municipality, which include Internet access, e-government, digital skills education and online engagement. Together, these projects will make it easier for people to access critical services, connect people to new skills, and make Athens a more livable city for its residents and a friendlier city for businesses and visitors.

The Athens Digital Roadmap was launched at the City of Athens’ new Serafeio complex, which hosts a number of innovative Municipal initiatives including the  Athens Digital Lab ,  synAthina ,  Athens Culture Net  and the  Designed for Better Learning  Maker Space.

The Athens Digital Roadmap was launched at the City of Athens’ new Serafeio complex, which hosts a number of innovative Municipal initiatives including the Athens Digital Lab, synAthina, Athens Culture Net and the Designed for Better Learning Maker Space.

The Athens Municipality knows that tracking progress and adapting to changing dynamics is critical to success. Therefore, the Athens Digital Roadmap will be a living document, poised to be evaluated and updated on an annual basis to ensure the municipality leverages its successes and is constantly evolving to deliver results. With these efforts in place, I am confident that Athens is on-track to be a leading digital city, and am excited to help enable the Athens of the future.

Katherine Oliver, Principal, Bloomberg Associates Media & Digital Strategies team

Download the Athens Digital Roadmap.