Now Yulia Saranova is 25 and she is the director of the nonprofit Tver Association of Potanin’s Scholarship Holders but when the story started she was still a graduate of Tver State University majoring in philology. Back in 2000 she heard about the Federal Scholarship Program announced by the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, decided to try her luck, applied for it and won the competition for the first time, to repeat her success several times later on. It opened a new path for her. She met new friends among other participant of the Program and they collaborated on a number of social projects such as “Give a Drop of Hope” (aimed to develop donor movement among the youth), “Student Taxi” (aimed to improve everyday life conditions for students), “Square of Good” (festival of volunteer projects in the city of Tver). All the ideas of the student-led projects were really original and new for the city but their authors managed also to study and apply the best social practices of other Russian regions to make them even more efficient. So no wonder that these projects in their turn inspired other generations of the Program’s participants in other Russian cities and towns.
Overall, from 2008 to 2013 their team organized and held over 50 Donors’ Days in the city, they helped 3000 young men and women to get involved in donor activity. They have been implementing 9 successful social projects. They encouraged more than 800 people to volunteer activity. Moreover, annually the team is fundraising up to about $54 000.
What is even more important is that their projects live on even after they are no longer supported financially by the Foundation. And the team members are always more than glad to exchange their experience and knowledge in this field with their friends and colleagues from other parts of the country. To make the projects even more sustainable and to turn them into a regular social activity , Yulia and her team established in 2011 their own organization – nonprofit partnership “The Tver Association of the Potanin’s Scholarship Holders”.
When asked if they could have realized this project without the support of the Potanin Foundation, she answers - “Yes, any of our projects we could have implemented without the Foundation’s help as we have now a long experience, useful social relationships and an established reputation. But if you asked me about it back in 2008 I definitely would not be so sure about the success of it. The Foundation by its grant competition prompted and encouraged us to try and test our key project – Give a Drop of Hope. And surely, the Foundation provided us with ideal conditions, equipped us with needed knowledge, necessary tools and skills which helped us not just to develop this very project but to be able to make strategic decisions, negotiate and reach out. It was a real school of life which revealed for me personally a totally really new horizon – nonprofit sector where I am now growing and developing as a professional”.