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Page Title


Country, Date of election

Poland 2007


Civic participation

Aureliusz Lezenski is building a nationwide system to assure young adults successful transition from institutional foster care to independent living, and working to shift the mentality of local communities responsible for educating and providing opportunities for them to become active citizens.


There are nearly 22,000 children who, for various reasons, are assigned by the state to orphanages and foster care institutions. Only a small percentage of them are ever received into foster families. None of Poland’s orphanages properly educate and develop youth to live independently. Foster youth living in institutions often endure social exclusion strong enough to make independent living, working, and socializing difficult. They are less likely to tolerate failure, and more likely to become frustrated in relations with others. Neither the state nor the citizen sector has developed effective programs to support young adults in their transition from foster care institutions to independent life.


“Safe Internship” program: in the first pilot year more than 1000young people have taken the self-reliance and work preferences questionnaire to measure job fitness. An online platform matches youth with employers  more than 100 interns in 43 companies in 10 cities. The program”Vehicles” is run in 14 cities: up to 2013 more than 1000 young people participated in this activity. Program “Training for social  aid workers” - results to date: 300 social workers trained. Program Food4Good (F4G) is a scalable social enterprise, led by rotating teams of foster youth that produce a special type of gingerbread. The idea of F4G is to provide managerial and teamwork experience.


Aureliusz Leżeński is building a nationwide system to assure  young adults successful transition from institutional foster care to independent living, and working to shift the mentality of local communities responsible for educating and providing opportunities for them to become active citizens. He is doing so through a system of self-sustaining activities, separate from foster care institutions, to provide young adults with the necessary education for entering adult life. Through programs “Vehicles for Independence” “Safe Internship”, scalable socialenterprise Food4Good, young adults learn communication skills, practical knowledge and are provided with individual support where needed.


The vision is a scalable innovation in self-reliance services.Through reaserch, creation, set up innovation tools andimplementation of structured educational programs, engagingsocial aid institutions and business to increase the number ofyoung people prepared for independence, self-reliance and foremployment in the open labor market.


Aureliusz wanted to work more closely with abandoned youth but received little support from institutions. He took it upon himself to launch the Robinson Crusoe Foundation to supportyouth in foster care institutions transition into adult life.

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