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Minority Rights Group Europe (MRGE), along with PILnet, has partnered together on the MARIO project to build a supportive environment for grassroots Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) engaged in the promotion and protection of EU values across Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia.

We select, provide financial support, and build the capacity of grassroots CSOs representing minority groups with grants. We do it for both national and transnational values. We do it to increase the resilience of grassroots CSOs. We do it to advance the protection, promotion and awareness of EU fundamental rights and values in the EU.

We understand the difficulties that come with functioning as a grassroots CSO. How it can be difficult to find the funds needed to develop your activities, how the space for civic and democratic action has shrunk, and how weaponized bureaucracy, harassment and growing nationalism have made your work more difficult. In particular, we understand how this has only been exacerbated with the onset of Covid-19.

We want to address these limitations: the lack of relevant funding opportunities, the lack of access to EU structures and mechanisms that protect and promote human rights, the lack of institutional support and related partnership opportunities, and the limited capacity for awareness-raising and advocacy, and how all this limits the potential of so many promising organizations.

Our projects

Click on the dots to find out more about the partner activities we’ve funded.

Find out what projects we’ve funded

From 2023 to 2025, we will be providing support to 90 CSOs in 11 European countries. Our grantees will encompass rural, grassroots, and minority CSOs, representing vulnerable minority groups.

Find out more about our projects >

Find out what projects we’ve funded

From 2023 to 2025, we will be providing support to 90 CSOs in 11 European countries. Our grantees will encompass rural, grassroots, and minority CSOs, representing vulnerable minority groups.

Find out more about our projects >

Partner activities

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Our results

€1.5M of allocated funding

60 projects supported

500+ activists engaged

40,000+ persons impacted

7 countries reached


1. Application

  • To be eligible, you must represent a CSO from one of the programme countries for 2024: Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, or Lithuania.
  • Prepare your application according to the provided eligibility criteria and assessment criteria.
  • Ensure that your project aligns with the objectives of the programme.
  • Justify your budget, demonstrating value for money and efficiency.
  • Include sustainability aspects in your proposed project.
  • Submit your application within the specified deadline.

2. Shortlist

  • An evaluation committee will review all the submissions and grade them based on the assessment grid.
  • Shortlisted applicants will be notified of their selection.
  • Small capacity-building grants of €250 will be awarded for capacity assessment and project review visits.

3. Capacity Assessment and Project Review Visits

  • Liaison Officers (LO) will visit your organization’s office or the marginalized minority community area.
  • The LO will assess your organization’s technical capacity and review relevant documentation.
  • The visit will also focus on discussing the substantive project design and addressing any questions or suggestions from the evaluation committee.
  • Based on the visit’s findings, you will have a short period to make final adjustments to your project design and budget.

4. Resubmit

  • After the capacity assessment and project review visit, revise your project proposal based on the feedback and discussions.
  • Submit the final version of your proposal, incorporating the necessary changes.

5. Final decision

  • The evaluation committee will make the final decision on which shortlisted projects will be supported in each country.
  • Once selected, you will enter into a grant agreement with MRGE.
  • Disbursement of funds will occur in three tranches, as specified in the reporting requirements.
  • Monitoring visits may be conducted by the Finance Officer and Grant Manager to assess your project’s progress.
  • Peer learning grants may also be awarded to support peer exchange among grantees.

We are looking for organizations that…

  • Represent minority communities and are equipped with the tools to meaningfully engage in awareness raising on EU Fundamental Rights and values;
  • Submit projects that strengthen community capacities to hold local and national authorities to account by applying national and European human rights mechanisms;
  • Have experience with media coverage, campaigns and research as grant activities to raise minority concerns in positive or constructive ways.

What kind of activities are we looking for?

  • School activities and awareness raising to minority youth on their rights;
  • Local accountability projects i.e., community-local authority problem-solving workshops and dialogues;
  • Activities that investigate, address, or publicise gaps or failures in the rule of law
  • Projects that contribute to democratic participation, including civic responsibility education projects, and advocacy with local authorities or relevant political parties for the inclusion of minorities;
  • Legal capacity projects and campaigns that build communities’ legal capacity to access justice mechanisms to achieve their rights i.e., direct legal advice, mediator training and legal support involving a violation of the rights of minorities;
  • Local advocacy projects and campaigns that give voice to local minority (and majority) concerns and support policy changes to address challenges and failings;
  • Watchdog and monitoring activities on EU policies and rights and values under the EU Treaties and the Charter;
  • Organization of civic platforms and civic dialogues linked to EU rights and values themes, coalitions and partnerships among CSOs and minority CSOs;
  • Advocacy to influence local policy and decision-making processes.

It’s not just a grant

There is more to our partnership than only the grant.

  • Training

    MRGE and PILnet will organize one central training for grantees each year, focusing on EU mechanisms and opportunities.

  • Legal advice

    With Liaison Officers’ support, grantees will be able to seek pro bono legal advice.

  • CSO shields

    Grantees will have access to international mobile units of experts, or CSO Shields, as needed.

  • Research

    At the end of the project, a research will be conducted, and a final study measure the change in the situation of civic space.

  • Advocacy meetings

    Annual exchange meetings will be followed by advocacy meetings for selected grantees in Brussels.

  • Alumni network

    A long-lasting network of grantees alumni will have access to funding opportunities.

  • Human rights networks

    Grantees will meet and build connections with bigger national and European human rights or minority rights NGOs and networks.

Application area

We are not accepting applications currently. Join our mailing list and be the first to know when another application period starts!

MARIO is funded by the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (2021-2027) of the European Union (ref: 101091387).