The Civic Forum Institute (CFI) is a nongovernmental, non-for-profit and non-partisan Palestinian organization that works to build democracy and strengthen civil society by promoting and raising awareness about the principles of democracy and civil society, facilitating elections, supporting the development of local government, monitoring and advocating the executive and legislative bodies of government, and encouraging legislative reform. Our programs have involved advocacy, monitoring, government reform projects, and citizen empowerment through education. CFI seeks to increase citizen understanding of democratic concepts and institutions, to develop community leadership skills and to bridge the gap between average citizen and decision maker.
Civic Forum Institute (CFI) was founded in 1995 as a grassroots civic education program managed by the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), as part of that organization’s efforts to support and strengthen a democratic Palestinian society in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
In June 1998, CFI formally established itself as an independent Palestinian organization and on 23 August 1998 CFI was registered in Jerusalem. CFI is also registered as a non-profit organization in the Palestinian Authority controlled areas according to the Law of NGOs signed by President Arafat in February 2000.
CFI pursues the goals of building and strengthening the foundations of democracy in Palestine and developing Palestinian civil society organizations. CFI is dedicated to democratic development so as to raise citizens’ awareness of democratic principles and processes. It also works to empower local leaders and organizations through meaningful and consistent programs and activities organized in local communities throughout Palestine. CFI works in cooperative efforts to build and strengthen ties between local, Arab and international organizations to build a stable democratic society that benefits all Palestinian citizens.
In the frame of its projects, CFI organizes workshops and civic education sessions on topics of democracy and citizens rights and responsibilities; town hall meetings with citizens and decision-makers, representing different branches of power; and training of volunteers in various skills.
For the last four years approximately 4,000 civic education discussion sessions on particular civic education topics were held in various parts of Palestine with particular focus on rural areas and marginalized groups.
Approximately 29,500 participants from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem have graduated from the civic education program. Program participants represent all social, economic, educational and political spectra in Palestinian society.
A total of 180 volunteer moderators were trained and began moderating their own sessions in their communities. The volunteers, under the supervision of CFI’s regular staff moderators, have so far conducted over 1,000 sessions.
A total of 170 town hall meetings on topics of local concern and involving decision-makers, private sector representatives and the general public have been held. CFI played an effective follow up role in cooperation with its extensive network of local organizations to pursue the issues raised during these meetings.
The CFI program provided opportunities for participants to learn about the practices of democratic governance, and the role and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.
CFI intends to continue its actions towards the goal of strengthening civil society and grassroots democratic development addressing the emerging socio-political changes in Palestine, helping citizens understand new and complicated democratic concepts and processes affecting their own lives.
CFI’s Board of Directors, general assembly, and staff decided to register Civic Forum Institute (CFI) in the United States as an international NGO in order to serve the communities and to build equitable democratic civil societies. Civic Forum Institute Worldwide “CFIW” was registered under the law of District of Colombia, USA on August 2011.