Global Reach: Grantee Partners

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Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization for Social and Cultural Services (Upsala Circus)


While UNICEF estimates that there are about 685,000 homeless and street children in the Russian Federation, Russian officials estimate that number is closer to one million. The ILO estimates that close to 20,000 young people live on the streets of St. Petersburg, home to the highest rates of HIV infection in Russia.


Since 2000, Upsala Circus has offered at-risk youth in St. Petersburg an alternative to street life and a path to realise their potential. Their innovative circus arts program allows young people to satisfy their penchant for risk in a safe, controlled space and channel their energy towards a path to personal development. Upsala works with crisis centres, schools, orphanages, and like-minded NGOs throughout the city to locate those most in need of their services. Upsala performs shows throughout Europe, which provides revenue to offset their program expenses while exposing participants to other cultures and building the self-esteem and self-confidence of participants as their abilities are appreciated by audiences in multiple settings. Upsala is still led by its founder Larisa Afanasova who is a theatre Director and puppeteer and has spent over 17 years working with at-risk youth and young people with disabilities. She is assisted by Programme Manager Anna Badulina and Head Coach, Yaroslav Mitrofanov.

Current Grant:

EMpower’s 7th grant to Upsala Circus will support the ongoing delivery of its circus-based programme to 46 at-risk youth in order to prevent risk behaviours, build resilience and help the development of social skills. The grant will also support Upsala’s use of EMpower’s Girl Path tool to educate young women about their rights and ensure that they have the skills they need to protect themselves

You can support our work with Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization for Social and Cultural Services (Upsala Circus) and our other grantee partners.

Our Underwriters pay for all of our administrative and fundraising costs, so 100% of your donation goes directly to empowering at-risk youth.