Rewarding excellence in civil society initiatives:
The EESC civil society prize 2016

This page is also available in

Rewarding excellence in civil society initiatives:
The EESC civil society prize 2016

The EESC civil society prize aims to reward model and inspiring projects that represent the best of human solidarity in Europe and which have demonstrated real impact on the ground by improving the lives of migrants and fostering their integration in European society.

The EESC received an unprecedented 284 applications from 27 countries and is awarding 5 winning initiatives with a total of EUR 50,000.

Innovative projects were selected, in areas such as:

• emergency relief

• social support, housing and health services

• fighting xenophobia, racism and discrimination, and promoting mutual respect and tolerance

• combating exploitation, empowering new arrivals and raising awareness of rights and obligations

• helping host communities learn more about migrants and highlighting their positive contribution

Europe is the destination for many people seeking refuge, while risking their lives and their children’s safety on the way. In 2016, more than 300 000 people have arrived in the EU by sea alone, while more than 3,000 have died or gone missing.


The Hungarian volunteer organisation Artemisszió Foundation encourages social integration through activities such as language and job skills training. Its project,  “Building Bridges”, aims to offer migrants and refugees a safe place where they can build personal relationships with the host society.

Founded in 1988, Artemisszió Foundation provides assistance to migrants and refugees through a mentorship system.

An independent organisation, not relying on government funding, its future vision is of a heterogeneous community for everybody living in Hungary based on solidarity and togetherness.


77-year old Dionysis Arvanitakis bakes over 100 kg of bread every day for refugees on the Greek island of Kos, less than 5 kilometres off the coast of Turkey. The Greek baker fills his van with bread and pastry and hands them out to the men, women and children who land on Kos. His actions inspired colleagues, citizens, hotel owners and many more.


The Lesvos-based non-profit organization ILIAKTIDA has been helping cover the basic needs of refugees, migrants and their families. Its volunteers have given many desperate people much-needed help together with social, legal, medical and psychological support.

Its main goal has been to get refugees out of camps, into local guesthouses and apartments and into local communities.


SOS MEDITERRANEE has helped rescue more than 5,400 refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. The organisation supports and complements search-and-rescue operations on its ship between Sicily, Lampedusa and Libya.

In contrast to other rescue operations, the organisation also acts ashore, to ensure and restore human rights and dignity for refugees.


Located in San Sebastián, SOS Racismo Gipuzkoa fights all forms of discrimination, segregation and isolation based on skin colour, ethnicity or cultural background. Its project “Next door family” (Bizilagunak) literally brought thousands of local residents and migrants around the table to eat and learn from each other.

The project facilitated 260 meals (involving 520 families) in 2015.


EESC civil society prize - Migration: Rewarding excellence in civil society initiatives.