Global Reach: Grantee Partners

Raoul Foundation

Context:

Over 500,000 young people are currently classified as orphans in Russia. Most of them have living parents and about 60% are disabled. Since 2016, the Government of the Russian Federation has implemented a reform process aiming to close large orphanages, re-house youth in smaller apartments or in foster families, integrate all orphans in community schools and institute transitional support for those 18 and over who leave the institutions to embark on independent life. Implementation of the process is now nearly complete, with a variety of transitional arrangements in place at different institutions, and only about 47,000 young people still living in institutions. There are no detailed official statistics on the educational, health and livelihoods outcomes of orphanage graduates in Russia but only 10% are estimated to be able to adapt to independent life after leaving institutional care. Only 2% enter universities compared with 45% of young people who grow up living with their families.

Overall unemployment in Russian Federation currently stands at nearly 5% with youth unemployment substantially higher at 20%. Considering that most orphanage graduates are affected by some kind of disability, have lower educational achievement levels and many lack vital life skills, it is reasonable to assume that more severely affected by unemployment. The employment rate of disabled people of working age in the Russian Federation is 20% though in St Petersburg it is much higher—38%.

Organization:

Raoul Foundation was established in August 2011 to honour the centenary of Raoul Wallenberg, Swedish architect, businessman and diplomat who saved thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the war. The organisation was set up by three members of a Swedish Club in St Petersburg—one of whom is a prominent businessman and has been a key funder from the beginning. Raoul Foundation aims to support people who have grown up in care, many of whom have disabilities, and help them transition to independent life and secure employment. Its programmes include the Raoul Social Club for orphanage graduates and young people with disabilities (organizes daily activities in a club based in a residential vocational school); a mentoring programme which uses corporate volunteers to support young people who have grown up in care in a range of matters including household, housing and legal issues as they begin their independent lives; and, Rabota-I which uses employability training, job coaching, specific job training, internships and supported employment to help young people secure employment in multinational companies, etc. In cases where companies are reluctant to employ programme participants straight after graduation, the Foundation’s wholly owned Limited Liability Company, Rabota-i acts as subcontractor for the first few months. Mikhail Krivonos, Raoul’s founder, studied Linguistics in St Petersburg and received his MBA from Stockholm School of Economics. Ilya Smetanin, CEO of Rabota-I (the main programme of Raoul Foundation) studied Human Resources at Ivanovo State University and has over 10 years of work experience in recruitment, assists him.

Current Grant:

EMpower’s 4th grant to support the replication of Raoul Foundation’s successful programme on supported employment in ten regions. The grant will help train 10 local organisations in delivering the programme and in the first year will assist 200 young people (90 women) who are graduates of Russia’s care system – many of whom with learning or developmental disabilities.

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