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Tuesday
Apr212015

The BOTA Foundation explained (Part Eight): BOTA's Grants and Scholarship Program 

BOTA had three programs, with its largest, the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program, briefly explained in the previous post. Funds from the Pictet and Cie bank account associated with James Giffen and President Nazarbayev were used in two other ways to help poor children and youth in Kazakhstan: via a NGO grants program, called the Social Service Program (SSP), and through a scholarship program known as the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).   

The SSP was a very innovative program. It gave grants to local NGOs to help poor and vulnerable children, youth and their guardians in a wide range of areas, e.g., improve the lives of disabled children, promote preschool education and reduce youth suicide (Kazakhstan has one of the highest per capita youth suicide rates in the world). NGOs were also funded to provide youth leadership and business training, reduce baby abandonment (Kazakhstan's orphanages are full of children with living parents), and provide BOTA's target groups a range of other opportunities.

The SSP had a long menu of grant types NGOs could get depending on their interests and expertise. About 75% of SSP grants were $25,000, given to local NGOs to actually provide social services. overall, the SSP used about $12.5 million from the Pictet and Cie account which had been frozen in connection to the Giffen case to fund more than 600 NGO projects, which in turn directly benefited some 50,000 Kazakhstani children and youth.

Complimenting this funding was a robust NGO training program: BOTA worked closely with IREX and Save the Children to offer workshops designed to help NGOs improve their technical and management effectiveness.

The Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) used about $10 million from the BOTA's funds to give full university or technical college scholarships to over 800 disadvantaged youth. The idea of TAP was to break the cycle of poverty within households by providing higher education and skills to young people who otherwise would likely only be qualified for menial jobs.

TAP staff gave all students individualized support, and life skills training, which helped keep the program's student retention rate around 90%. Getting good jobs was the underlying goal of the program, and many students had secured these as the BOTA program wound down.

In the next post, I'll explore the effectiveness of the BOTA Foundation.  

Part One of this series is here, Part Two is here, Part Three is here, Part Four is here, Part Five is here, Part Six is here, and Part Seven is here.

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Aaron Bornstein was the Executive Director of BOTA Foundation, employed by a Washington, D.C. based NGO called IREX, from 2011 until its close in 2014. He is a foundation and international development professional who has worked in 8 different countries on a variety of civil society strengthening, poverty alleviation, and other projects. Aaron is interested in receiving institutional support for the more extensive documentation of the BOTA experience that he is working on. Please send your suggestions, along with your feedback on the BOTA series, to abornstein19@gmail.com.