The Evolution of a Successful Strategy for Integrating Romania’s Poorest Children



Awards & Honours

2000Peace Corps volunteer Leslie Hawke seeks grant on behalf of the Bacau Fundația de Sprijin Comunitar to get kids begging off the street and into school.
2001Maria Gheorghiu & Leslie Hawke start two-pronged initiative: education for the children and job training for their mothers, called "Gata, Dispus și Capabil" based on The Doe Fund's "Ready, Willing & Able" program.
The Alex Fund is incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization in New York to raise money for educational outreach in Romania.
2002Education program grows from 2 rooms in a high school dorm to multiple classrooms in schools in Buhuși & Izvoare. Hawke selected as a People Magazine “People First” Honoree
Summer programs serve 100 children in three ghetto neighborhoods.
2003"Cartiere mai bune" project initiated to improve deplorable living conditions of the GDC families. Gheorghiu's school reintegration curriculum is approved by the Ministry of Education.AmCham (American Chamber of Commerce in RO) Innovation Prize to "Gata, Dispus și Capabil" program
2004Gheorghiu & Hawke found Asociația OvidiuRo (OvR) and expand programs to Bucharest’s Sector 5.
2005OvR implements "Second Chance" program in Bucharest. USAID Outstanding Citizen Citation for Hawke
2006OvR launches "Fiecare Copil în Școală" (“Every Child in School”) for keeping high risk children in school. Hawke & Gheorghiu commit to getting every child in Romania in school by 2020. Beau Monde and Pantene Public Service Awards
20071700 children in 60 schools in 8 counties implement OvR’s summer "School Preparation" program. USAID Best Practices Award
Bucharest Business Week’s CSR Award
A review of the outcomes for children who started in OvR's programs in 2001-2004 show that the younger they started, the longer they stayed in school.Avon Woman of the Year Award for Children’s Rights
Roma Education Fund report cites OvR as a leader in Roma education policy development
2008OvR publishes White Paper: "Learning from America’s Mistakes: A Proposal for Closing the Education Gap". The Economist cites OvR as a “model in developing successful community services for disadvantaged children” (21 June)
4400 children participate in OvR’s summer "School Preparation" programs.
2009OvR launches "Școala te face mare" public awareness campaign to encourage early school enrollment; initiates “Adopt a School” initiative and tests food coupons as a parent incentive for school attendance in Vizurești. Global Fund for Children “Sustainability Award”
Bucharest Civil Society Gala award for “Școala te Face Mare”
2010OvR initiates the Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță (FCG) program in partnership with The Ministry of Education. Thirteen pilot communities are selected through a national application process.Hawke's opinion piece published on Economist blog, Eastern Approaches, Sept 13
“Școala te face mare" awareness campaign features Andreea Esca, Horea Brenciu, Margareta Paslaru & Ethan Hawke.Bucharest Civil Society Gala award for "Școala te Face Mare” campaign
People for People Gala award for “Adopt a School” initiative
2011OvR extends FCG to 20 communities, reaching 1300 children, and sets goal to turn FCG elements into public policy by 2020. Award & €50,000 grant in Société Générale's international competition
Civil Society Gala award to Pro TV & OvR for CSR Partnership
2012OvR’s public awareness campaign "Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță" stresses the importance of early education. World Bank report cites FCG as a model for integrating deprived children into the education system: “Toward an Equal Start: Closing the Early Learning Gap”
Nine Ambassadors to Romania form the "Ambassadors’ Early Education Initiative 2012-2020'' to show their support of early education for all as a key contributor to the school success of disadvantaged children.Bucharest Civil Society Gala: First Prize in Education & First Prize in CSR to OvR & Carrefour
2013FCG reaches 2100 children. OvR signs partnership with the Ministry of Education to analyze the impact of FCG. ANR Excellency Award for Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță
2014EEA grant fuels expansion in Brasov, Dambovita & Dolj.Bucharest Civil Society Gala 1st Prize for CSR to OvR & Rompetrol
The ONE 10 Year Gala Prize for Social Involvement
Cluj is the first county to cover the FCG food coupon incentives from its county budget. Inter-Ministerial Task Force is created to prepare the way for scaling up FCG nationally.VIP Magazine Award for Contribution to the Development of Society
Acorns 10 Year Gala Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education
FCG reaches 2400 children in 12 counties. OvR, Ministries of Ed & Labor sign agreement paving the way for national expansion of FCG.Independent Impact Evaluation shows that FCG increased enrollment rates for children of preschool and early primary ages over rates in similar communities without the program.
MarchRomanian PR Award First Prize for Lobbying & Public Affairs to OvR and McGuireWoods
7 OctParliament passes the Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță (FCG) Law (no. 248/2015) with full support from all major political parties. The The law provides that parents living under the poverty line can receive food coupons worth €11 per month if their child attends preschool every day.
28 OctPresident Klaus Iohannis signs Law 248/2015. Government allocates €12.3 million to cover the cost of food coupons for 111,000 chlldren living in poverty.
Secondary Legislation for the Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță (FCG) Law (nr. 248/2015) is published in Monitorul Oficial.Nine O'Clock Award for "Impactful Social Responsibility"
Foreign Policy Advocacy Award
FebruaryOvR's Law Information Road-show, reaches 8000 public employees in all 41 counties.
April 11Public Participation Gala Award for OvidiuRo's FCG Law Advocacy Campaign.
May"Everyday in Preschool" Awareness Campaign Launch encourages poor parents to register their children for kindergarten.

Maria Gheorghiu tapped to be the Prime Minister’s State Counselor on Social Inclusion, spearheading the PM’s “Integrated 47 Measure Anti-Poverty Package”.
July - AugustThe Carrefour Read Aloud Summer Caravan reaches 99 impoverished communities in 15 counties. Results: 5700 children, 3100 parents, and 200 teachers reached.Three 1st Prizes, including the Grand Prix at the Civil Society Gala
SeptemberMaria Gheorghiu & Leslie Hawke receive Award for Achievement in Humanitarian Work at The ALIANȚA Award Gala 2016 in Washington, DC.
October"Pofta de carte" Read Aloud Caravan, powered by Carrefour, begins.
DecemberThe government's 2016 Report notes that the "Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță" Law resulted in the registration of over 70,000 impoverished children.
Maria Gheorghiu returns to the helm of OvidiuRo from her stint as counselor to Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș when the new government takes over.
April"Hai la gradinita" 2017-2018 community grant project launched.
May"Pofta de carte" Read Aloud Caravan concludes, having reached 6,000 preschoolers in 200 disadvantaged villages in 25 counties.
June OvidiuRo’s “Quality Early Education Regional Conferences” held in 8 counties, reaching 600 preschool teachers.OvidiuRo and Carrefour win Romanian CSR Awards, 2nd prize for Education for "Pofta de Carte" project.
SeptemberMinistry of Education and OvidiuRo sign collaboration protocol regarding quality early education best practices.American Embassy hosts celebration of the 2nd Anniversary of the "Fiecare Copil in Gradinita" Law.
"Dai carte, ai parte" 2017 Public Awareness Campaign launched, requesting 2€ monthly SMS donations to provide poor children with their first book.
"Fiecare copil merită o poveste" national caravan begins, distributing 20,000 picture books to children in disadvantaged communities.
OvidiuRo launches the second edition of "Hai la grădiniță!" community grants, supported by NN.
June - JulyOvidiuRo’s “Quality Early Education Regional Conferences” held in 18 counties, reaching 767 preschool and primary teachers.