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Project Support Program

This Program provides grants for initiatives by governmental and non-governmental agencies in the Decade of Roma Inclusion countries. Applications are also considered from other countries with a substantial Roma population. The REF finances projects at all education levels, i.e. preschool, primary, general and vocational secondary and tertiary, and adult education, and for policy development.

Grant applications should be in line with REF’s mission and objectives and should aim at:

  • Helping develop or reform education policies.
  • Piloting and testing Roma educational interventions that can be scaled up and with the potential to influence policies.
  • Scaling up successful pilots.
  • Mobilizing additional donor financing for Roma education programs and projects.
  • Building the institutional capacity of governments and the civil society.
  • Conducting research and analysis on Roma education issues.
  • Raising awareness and conducting advocacy campaigns.
  • Promoting the cross-fertilization of experiences and cross-regional knowledge-sharing

Since 2013, REF has developed five models that shape its current grants and policies. Grant applications should be targeted on these models to be considered for support as well as the objectives above. Below follows an excerpt from REF's 2013 Annual Report that describes the aims of these models developed by REF with assistance from the World Bank. 

The Roma Education Fund has begun a shift from its current proposal-based grant design to a model-based grant design. The purpose of the model framework is to better assess REF’s actual progress compared to its targets. The methodology of the model-based applications will allow the applicant to select an implementation model which will trigger the appearance of a set of ready-made component entries and indicators. 

Developed by REF staff, together with Plamen Danchev and Bojana Naceva from the World Bank’s anchor team, the five models will apply to the following areas: (1) early childhood education and care, (2) primary education with focus on preventing early school leaving, (3) secondary school scholarships with mentoring and tutoring, (4) adult education programs and (5) Romaversitas (centers) for Romani university students. These models are anticipated to help implement national Roma social inclusion policies. Project proposals will have well-defined project development objectives, results frameworks, outcome and output indicators, risk assessment combined with risk mitigation measures, project management and implementation requirements, monitoring and evaluation tools; the value of these models is that they will be adopted and implemented on an achievable scale, while good practice and good policy can be scaled up on EU and national levels. 

REF has gained extensive experience and knowledge surrounding the types of interventions in and approaches to Roma education that produce results on the ground. A comprehensive evaluation of effective solutions has generated a good practice model for achieving results in different country and policy settings. It is REF’s intention to replace a need-based approach of sponsoring NGO proposals with a more targeted use of resources to fund the models REF believes will generate effective results. REF does not rule out the possibility of accommodating innovative and promising solutions that are produced by civil society organizations, but REF will streamline supported interventions under the broadly defined models that have proven to be effective. 

The five models described below serve as a structure to help applicant organizations adopt a well-defined methodology, with an option to adopt those components that are applicable in the context of the localities where they plan to implement a program. It is important to note that applicants can supplement the models by adding additional components and indicators if they are justifiable under a concrete problem-solving framework. All the models include a cross-sectorial component on promoting desegregation and integration of Roma in education. 

Model 1. Expanding Access to Preschool Education: Early Childhood Education 

The early childhood education and care (ECEC) model aims to improve the school readiness and early childhood development outcomes of Romani children aged between zero to six by improving the enrollment and attendance in the mainstream preschool services; enhancing the parenting skills and improving the practices of Romani parents; strengthening the link between parents and preschool facilities; and raising the quality of ECEC services, such as teaching and learning methods. 

Model 2. Avoiding Early School Leaving in Primary Education 

The primary education model intends to improve the primary education outcomes of Romani children aged between six and fourteen by supporting primary education enrollment and school-after-school programs (tutoring and mentoring) with improved access (enrollment) to primary education, preventing early school leaving, enhancing the parental skills, strengthening the link between parents and schools, providing remedial classes to children and offering professional support and guidance to school staff and authorities. 

Model 3. Expanding Access to Secondary Education 

The secondary education model aims to improve the academic performance of students and to maintain the retention and graduation rate of Romani secondary school students through better outreach, provision of scholarships, school-based mentorship support and tutorship support. 

Model 4. Expanding Access to Higher Education: Romaversitas 

The Romaversitas model intends to improve the retention, performance and graduation levels of Romani full-time tertiary education students by providing them with academic tutoring and mentoring and to help strengthen their Romani identity and community participation. This model consists of compulsory and optional components. It serves as a bridge for young Romani scholars and includes scholarships, mentoring, tutoring and additional training in professional development and foreign language competences. 

Model 5. Second Chance Programs for Adult Functional Literacy and Formal School Completion 

The adult education and training model aims to improve the education level and employment prospects for young Romani adults. It provides those with incomplete primary and/or secondary education with tutoring and financial support for completing formal primary and/or secondary education. This model also aims to improve the literacy and social communication skills of illiterate and semi-literate Romani parents (mainly mothers) of preschool- and school-age children and enhance their involvement in their children’s education through provision of non-formal literacy and social communication skills trainings. 


Embedding effective models for Roma education requires strong partnerships with national and sub-national education authorities and implies intense communication with them throughout the process of adjusting best practice models to national and local contexts. The move from proposal-based to model-based program design suggests REF’s increased accountability and ownership over the implemented projects and their results, as well as the ability to multiply and enhance these models. REF is currently creating an online application platform that will enable the applicants to choose the type of intervention they aim to implement. The system will offer them the tools necessary to create a successful intervention.