USAID and local NGO Assist Impact signed eight grant agreements today to support democracy in Albania. The grants seek to increase citizen’s participation in decision-making, support community building, and hold public officials accountable. Assist Impact is currently implementing a three-year project called “Building Human and Institutional Capacities” which aims to support local NGOs, governmental agencies, and business associations to improve their capabilities and work more effectively.  Assist Impact, through a competitive process, has selected eight NGOs from across Albania. During the ceremony, American Ambassador in Albania, Donald Lu, said that more than 30 grants was given to Albania. He promised more in the future. The selected NGOs include:
· Partners for Children: In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, will implement the pilot project “Schools as Community Centers” in Dibër, aiming to empower young people to participate in political life.
·  Albanian Institute of Science will promote accountability and transparency by providing access to data on assets declared by politicians and judiciary officials, public assets and procurement, as well as public spending data.
·  Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) will enhance independent and professional investigative journalism as a mean to increase accountability, transparency, and anti-corruption mechanisms of public procurement procedures.
·  Center for Research Cooperation and Development will organize election debates, prepare voting guides, and hold elected officials accountable.
·  Meridia will work with women and girls after their release from the penitentiary institution to better reintegrate, by providing them on the job training and employment opportunities.
·  Light Steps will work in Shkoder and Puka to increase citizen participation in the municipalities’ decision making processes through Community Based Scorecards.
·  Women’s Network Equality in Decision Making will aim to raise women experts’ voices through media in order to change public perception on the role of women in the society and emphasize the importance of their political participation in Tirana, Vlora and Shkodra.
·  Center for Transparency and Freedom of Information will monitor the implementation of the recommendations provided by the High State Audit Institution to public institutions in the municipalities of Tirana, Elbasan, and Korca. 
The projects will run from April 2015-November 2015.