How it works

What we fund


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, Czech, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia.

We select, provide financial support, and build the capacity of grassroots CSOs representing minority groups with grants.

You can view our list of grantees from 2023 here.

Why we do it

We do it for both the national and transnational value. We do it to increase the resilience of grassroot CSOs. We do it to advance the protection, promotion and awareness of EU fundamental rights and values in the EU.

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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, 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.

How it works

First, you, the CSO, will be invited to send your applications to MRGE and PILnet for assessment. Your proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by an Evaluation Committee comprising of MRGE and partner staff using MRGE’s appraisal tools.

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In 2023 and 2024, the following countries will be eligible: Croatia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Latvia. In 2025, this will be expanded to: Slovenia, Lithuania, Estonia, Czech Republic, Romania.

Eligibility criteria

  1. Organizations interested in applying must be registered legal entities, be non-profit making organization or civil society organization, have a bank account, be established and active in the target countries;
  2. Prove to have no public debt, complying with GDPR and anti-corruption measures and prove the absence of conflict of interest;
  3. Demonstrate their commitment and compliance to EU fundamental rights and values;
  4. Balanced gender composition within their internal leadership and team structure;
  5. Community members represented within their internal leadership and team structure (desirable, not mandatory);
  6. Organizations must be able to demonstrate basic project management skills; strong links with relevant communities, to have the means in place to remain in contact with and effectively consult and involve the community/ies they are working with.

If you want to know more about the peer exchange grant, detailed eligibility criteria, assessment criteria, grant management and control, and other fine print, why not read our detailed overview here?

Interested in applying?

Click here!

It’s not just a grant

There is more to our partnership than only the grant.

MRGE and PILnet will organize one central training for grantees each year, focusing on EU mechanisms and opportunities. This training will serve as a time for grantees to exchange experiences with other grantees of the same year.

With Liaison Officers’ support, grantees will be able to seek pro bono legal advice through local clearinghouses where available or help to translate their requests and submit them to PILnet Global Clearinghouse.

Grantees will have access to international mobile units of experts, or CSO Shields, as needed. Experts will assist minority CSOs in analysing available information, and designing tailor-made responses and solutions.

Grantees will be encouraged to meet and build connections with bigger national NGOs and networks during annual exchange meetings, where all grantees of the year can attend a meeting in Brussels and build joint initiatives for future projects or joint advocacy.

At the end of the project, a research will be conducted, and a final study measure the change in the situation of civic space, and assess the long- and medium-term effects of the MARIO project.

Annual exchange meetings will be followed by advocacy meetings for selected grantees in Brussels where they will meet relevant EU decision makers.

A long-lasting network of grantees alumni will have access to funding opportunities. The grantee alumni network will be a platform for exchange as well as information and opportunities.

What we fund

We are looking for organizations that:

  • Represent minority groups and are equipped with the tools to meaningfully engage in awareness raising on EU Fundamental Rights and values;
  • Subject 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 raise minority concerns in positive or constructive ways.
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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.


Follow the steps below to apply:

  1. Download the Call for Applications for more details here;
  2. Download and fill out the application form here;
  3. Download and fill out the budget template here;
  4. Fill out your full name and email address in the form below;
  5. Upload the filled-out application to the area marked ‘Upload application form here’;
  6. Upload the filled-out budget to the area marked ‘Upload budget here’;
  7. Tell us how you heard about the position, consent to the GDPR agreement, and click ‘Submit’.

NOTE: In order to ensure a quicker response to your application, please name your files “[COUNTRY]_[ORGANIZATION NAME]_Application” and “[COUNTRY]_[ORGANIZATION NAME]_Budget” respectively.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

European flag

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