Adriana Preda, CEO The Social Incubator – the first Romanian selected as 2023-2024 Obama Scholar in New York
[Bucharest, Romania] – The Social Incubator Association is pleased to announce that Adriana Preda, the organization’s CEO, is the first Romanian selected in the prestigious Obama Scholars Program.
Adriana will be part of the sixth cohort of Obama Scholars, participating in an immersive program at Columbia University in the City of New York for the 2023-2024 academic year, made up of 12 emerging leaders from all around the world.
Empowering disadvantaged youth in Romania to achieve social and professional integration, Adriana Preda is since 2017 the CEO of The Social Incubator, an organization that supports the social, educational, and professional development of vulnerable and orphaned youth across
Romania. Working with children and teenagers as they prepare to transition out of institutional care, the organization supports over 30,000 youth in 30 counties.
Under Adriana’ leadership, the organization has grown from five to 54 full-time staff and expanded its corporate partnership portfolio to include companies like Coca-Cola, AFI Europe, HP, Eurosport, Unicredit Bank and Ikea. The Social Incubator has implemented over 50 projects
for vulnerable youth on critical topics such as human trafficking and domestic violence prevention, professional development and employability skills, and psycho-social resilience.
The Obama Scholars program, a cornerstone of the Obama Foundation’s work to develop the next generation of leaders, provides Scholars with exposure to real-world skills, tools, and experiences that will expand the impact of their work. The Scholars will participate in academic,
skills-based and experiential learning, designed by Columbia University and the University of Chicago, in partnership with the Obama Foundation. Their experience will be further enriched by participating in Foundation-led leadership development programming that includes training, networking opportunities, and personalized support as they extend their efforts post-graduation.
The Foundation-led program will kick-off September 7, with all Scholars attending an orientation in Chicago.
“The Obama Scholars program enables rising changemakers to gain insights into the work of
fellow leaders, across issues and geographies, while collaborating to address complex challenges,” said Obama Foundation CEO Valerie Jarrett. “We are eager to welcome the new cohort of Scholars to the Foundation family, where they will join a network of changemakers
striving for a stronger, more sustainable, and more inclusive world.”
“I’m very proud and honored to be an Obama Foundation Scholar, and equally excited for this amazing new opportunity! Undoubtedly, the Scholars Program will be extremely helpful to develop furthermore the association I am representing, addressing the needs of hundreds of
thousands of children and teenagers in institutional care across Romania”, stated Adriana Preda, CEO The Social Incubator.
The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University will welcome 12 Scholars from 12 countries for a nine-month residency at Columbia World Projects. Scholars will engage with the institution’s multifaceted program to deepen their knowledge and skills and build new capacities and networks that will accelerate their impact on the world. The cohort will partake in
weekly seminars, personal and professional development workshops, audited coursework, and other tailored programming developed in close partnership with the Foundation.
The Obama Foundation Scholars program is designed to inspire, empower, and connect emerging leaders with the tools they need to make their efforts more effective and impactful across their global communities. Since its inception in 2018, the Obama Foundation Scholars
program has supported 132 leaders from 59 countries, all actively working to address today’s pressing issues. To learn more about the 2023-2024 cohort, please visit
About The Social Incubator Association
The Social Incubator association is a non-governmental, non-profit organization established in 2014 to support young people from disadvantaged environments in Romania, through direct, pragmatic and creative social interventions. The organization provides support for the socio-professional integration of institutionalized young people: free vocational training courses and
internships, support for finding a job or subsidized housing. The association also develops concepts and launches social projects to facilitate the professional insertion of people from disadvantaged communities.
In the last 8 years, The Social Incubator implemented projects across Romania, with thousands
of young people participating in personal and professional development supported through counseling sessions in the process of social and professional integration. To learn more about The Social Incubator Association click here https://asociatiasocialincubator.org/.
Media contact: Ogilvy Romania
KEY REPORT ON THE LIFE OF UKRAINIAN REFUGEES IN BUCHAREST
Ukrainian refugees in Bucharest are grateful for the help they received, but they still want to go home. Most of them are satisfied with the shelter found in Romania, but say that accommodating is not easy and they can’t wait for the war to end in order to return to Ukraine. These are the conclusions of a sociological report developed within our project “Together for Ukraine”.
“As soon as the war ends, we want to return home, but Romania remains in our hearts,” says one of the Ukrainian refugees in Bucharest, interviewed as part of the project.
The report elaborated by sociologists Alexandra Deliu and Elena Trifan is part of the project “Together for Ukraine” developed by The Social Incubator Association and funded by CARE International UK, SERA Romania and FONPC. The project aims to identify and analyze the needs of Ukrainian refugees, but also the tools that helped their integration in Romania.
The research was conducted between March and June 2023, quantitatively, through an online survey with 240 respondents, but also qualitatively, through interviews with 22 Ukrainian refugees living in Bucharest, in order to explore how refugees live and what problems they encounter.
- See in full ”Report on the needs and difficulties encountered by Ukrainian refugees in Bucharest – Subjective perceptions and evaluations” by Alexandra Deliu and Elena Trifan, plus the related infographic on housing.
Who are the Ukrainian refugees in Bucharest and how are they doing
Over 85% of respondents came to Romania in 2022, in groups of 3-5 people, including children. Over 98% are women, most of them aged between 20 and 39.
About 65% of respondents have higher education, cases of those with a very low level of education (primary school) or very high (doctorate) being only exceptions.
Both quantitative and qualitative data show that the sampled Ukrainian refugees settled in Bucharest tend to be satisfied with housing conditions.
The most frequent mentions of housing problems refer to the lack of necessary space (which includes lack of privacy) and adequately furnished and equipped homes. The fact that most of them are satisfied with housing conditions, beyond the shortages that arise, shows the existence of expectations aimed rather at satisfying basic needs (in this case, having a roof over their heads), the report states.
Their experiences with the Romanian system
About two-thirds of Ukrainian refugees say they have health problems and as many have accessed medical services since they have been in Romania. Half of those who have not accessed medical services say they have tried to do so but failed. Moreover, a fifth of respondents wanted but failed to register with a family doctor.
Their greatest need is to access free medical services, but the Romanian medical system seems to pose some problems for vulnerable groups, without or with poor access to resources, especially given the are cultural differences and language barriers, the report shows.
On the other hand, several refugees expressed their gratitude to Romanian doctors and volunteers, mentioning the kindness and support received.
The report shows that employment is a particularly problematic area for refugees. A small proportion of the sampled persons are employed, the remaining four-fifths do not work at all. The latter are usually in this situation due to the language barrier or inappropriate work schedule, given that they have children to take care of.
They want to return to Ukraine
Many refugees want to return home to Ukraine, but realize they cannot predict when this will happen. In addition, those who want to stay in Romania are not sure that they will be able to support themselves financially here, especially those with limited knowledge of Romanian language, those who cannot work due to disability or age, people who have other relatives in their care.
There is also concern about their legal status in the country and how long they will be allowed to stay, the report concludes.
A common concern expressed by refugees was the lack of social connections and friends in their new environment. They mentioned wanting to have someone to spend their free time with and establish a support network.
Their inclusion in the Romanian education system raises problems for Ukrainian refugees, who mentioned obstacles related to the lack of knowledge of Romanian or the difficulty of the enrollment process. On the other hand, most of those who managed to access the education system in Romania said they were satisfied.
The Social Incubator and “Together for Ukraine”
We have joined efforts to resolve the refugee crisis since the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022. Various types of intervention were organised, including border visits, with a role in establishing initial accommodation for refugees in Bucharest and providing essential supplies such as food and mobile phone cards.
The Social Incubator’s initiatives continued naturally within the project “Together for Ukraine”, whose main directions of action are as follows:
- Providing immediate support to refugees by supplying essential goods such as food, hygiene products, professional counselling and jobs, as well as logistical assistance for education and facilitating access to medical services and medicines.
- Ensuring the supply chain and renovating centers to provide a minimum of comfort to refugees who are forced to live in these facilities for extended periods of time.
- Undertaking activities geared towards socio-professional integration, including organising job fairs, providing career counselling and coordinating recreational activities to promote a sense of community and well-being.
About The Social Incubator Association
The Social Incubator association is a non-governmental, non-profit organization established in 2014 to support young people from disadvantaged environments in Romania, through direct, pragmatic and creative social interventions.
The organization provides support for the socio-professional integration of institutionalized young people: free vocational training courses and internships, support for finding a job or subsidized housing.
The association also develops concepts and launches social projects to facilitate the professional insertion of people from disadvantaged communities.
In the last 8 years, The Social Incubator implemented projects across Romania, with thousands of young people participating in personal and professional development supported through counseling sessions in the process of social and professional integration.
To learn more about The Social Incubator Association click here https://asociatiasocialincubator.org/.
Media contact: Ogilvy Romania
The Social Incubator association and the KRUK Romania team launch ResponsABIL, the 4th edition
ResponsABIL, the educational program dedicated to the development of financial independence and responsibility of young people from vulnerable backgrounds, supported by the KRUK Romania teams and The Social Incubator Association, continues with its fourth edition.
Through ResponsABIL, The Social Incubator Association and KRUK Romania are supporting, in 2022, 60 young people from the foster system, aged between 16 and 24, from Prahova and Dâmbovița counties. The proposed educational program is intended to help beneficiaries prevent risky situations, by cultivating skills that can help them make the most correct life decisions – such as self-confidence and financial education. The skills acquired in this way can support them both in school performance, by increasing promotability or preventing school dropout, as well as integration in the professional environment.
Through the activities of ResponsABIL, young people reach a higher level of self-confidence, have stronger motivation and make remarkable progress in the areas of financial independence and employability.
Young people will participate in financial education workshops and personal development activities. ResponsABIL 2022 activities include, in addition to the thematic workshops, an online event “Career Day”, with guests from various fields of activity, exploratory visits to potential employers, practical challenges, but also prizes for involvement.
In previous editions, 161 young people from vulnerable backgrounds, from Timiș, Olt and Vaslui counties, were supported in the socio-professional integration process. Young people participated in online workshops with challenges and won prizes (“gamification” type approach), intended to encourage them in the learning process. They also participated in financial education, personal and professional development workshops.
“This new edition of the ResponsABIL project challenges us to offer young people current learning methods, such as “gamification”, which had very good results in the previous edition as well.
We enjoy the constant support and trust that KRUK Romania gives us. A long-term partnership provides us with the framework in which The Social Incubator can design new methods of intervention and support more young people from at-risk categories to have the chance of a dignified future through work”, said Adriana Preda, executive director of The Social Association Incubator.
“The transition to an independent life is a challenge for any young people in Romania. At the beginning of the journey, you need all the support you can get and these talented young people deserve to have access to one of the most valuable resources for them: financial education, which will allow them to have everything they want, from health , own source of income, free time, family, confidence in one’s own strength. When you take the first step in the financial circuit, the most important thing is to plan your expenses, learn to manage them. And the second step is also planning.
It is, for us, a great honor to know these young people who, above all, choose to participate, learn, ask questions, make themselves heard. They understood that their future depends on them and that, when they ask for help, someone is always there to offer”, explains Cosmina Marinescu, General Director of KRUK Romania.
The Social Incubator Association announces the completion of the "Innomate - Innovation for the Future" project
Through “InnoMate – Innovation for the future”, the pilot project financed by the United Way Romania Foundation and implemented by The Social Incubator Association, young people who are at a socio-economic disadvantage, in a situation of social vulnerability or with school difficulties, have developed the skills needed to increase employment opportunities and plan a career path.
123 young people benefited from career counseling services, identified their transferable skills and professional interests.
70 young people participated in the “Entrepreneurship Club” and 26 young people, organized in six teams, participated in the competition of entrepreneurship ideas.
Through the “Innokit” program, 13 teaching staff benefited from the training course and, subsequently, worked with the students to develop the spirit of initiative and entrepreneurial skills.
12 teaching staff participated in the vocational counselor specialization course.
The project attracted 17 volunteers who got involved in activities with young people.
“InnoMate – Innovation for the future” took place between May and December 2021, in three high schools in the Bucharest – Ilfov area: Technological High School “Barbu A. Știrbey” Buftea, Technological High School “Mircea Vulcănescu”, Bucharest, Technical College of Posts and Telecommunications “Gh. Airinei” Bucharest.
Through this project, The Social Incubator Association and the United Way Romania Foundation put into practice the common objective of helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to know their potential and start exploring professional perspectives.
“We are delighted by the opportunity to meet colleagues from United Way, whose support we have enjoyed during the course of the project. It is the beginning of a beautiful collaboration. About the beneficiaries of “InnoMate – Innovation for the future” I can say that they are young people involved and concerned about the future, who benefited from the knowledge transferred by their teachers and the inspiration instilled by the entrepreneurs with whom they interacted. The young people from the “InnoMate – Innovation for the Future” project gave us hope for the better and we believe that the investment in their professional future brings a big plus to society,” said Adriana Preda, executive director of The Social Incubator Association.
“For really good results in working with young people, we focused both on the direct beneficiary, the high school students, and on the teaching staff. Through a dedicated curriculum and training courses, we have given teachers new tools for working and communicating with young people from vulnerable backgrounds. I am convinced that in this way we managed, together with colleagues from Social Incubator, to open the horizons of those young people with undiscovered potential”, said Adriana Dobrea, Executive Director of United Way Romania.”
About The Social Incubator Association
The Social Incubator association is a non-governmental, non-profit organization established in 2014 to support disadvantaged young people in Romania through direct, pragmatic and creative social interventions.
The organization provides support for the socio-professional integration of institutionalized young people: free vocational training courses and internships, support for finding a legal job and support for finding subsidized housing. The association also develops concepts and launches social projects to facilitate the professional insertion of disadvantaged people.
In 7 years of existence, the impact of The Social Incubator consists of 42 projects implemented in 28 counties, 8724 young participants in the organized personal and professional development activities and 1619 young people supported through counseling sessions in the process of social and professional integration, at national level.
About United Way Romania
United Way Romania is a Romanian foundation affiliated with United Way Worldwide, USA, whose activity focuses on the three directions that lay the foundations of a prosperous community: access to a quality education, good health services and an income sufficient to maintain a family. We act as a community organizer by mobilizing an extensive network of community partners – NGOs, companies, public institutions, civil society leaders, donors and volunteers – to coordinate their efforts to produce a collective impact. United Way Romania programs annually support over 11,500 people in need, with the support of over 3,500 individual donors, 37 major donors and over 100 companies.
The Social Incubator Association and NEPI Rockcastle launch "Construim Destine", the 3rd edition
“Construim Destine”, the project that aims to integrate into society 90 young people at risk, from Neamț, Mehedinți, Mureș counties, supported by NEPI Rockcastle and implemented by The Social Incubator Association, continues with its third edition .
The young people who take part in the project’s activities are either in the foster system or come from low-income or single-parent families. They are currently faced with a number of issues, which can divert them from a professional path and an independent life, supported by work: the lack of real support (emotional and financial) from the family or legal guardian, low self-confidence, difficulties of expression, difficulties of adaptation in society, dropping out of school.
Through the project “Construim Destine”, The Social Incubator Association involves 90 young people in activities aimed at career orientation and identifying the professional path, exploring career opportunities and increasing the degree of employability.
Thus, between April and December 2022, young people take part in a series of specific activities aimed at directing them towards professional integration, together with the representatives of the shopping centers: Shopping City Piatra Neamț, Shopping City Târgu Mureș and Severin Shopping Center.
Social Financial Trophy, the charity tennis tournament for financial and banking institutions, is getting ready to start
Between May 6 and 8 in Bucharest, the Social Financial Trophy, the charity tennis tournament of financial-banking institutions, will take place. The teams of amateur tennis players, registered by financial-banking institutions for the tournament, compete for the tournament cup, and the matches are hosted by Pescariu Sports&Spa, the official partner of the event.
The Social Financial Trophy, organized by The Social Incubator Association and the Social Finance Association, is the charity tennis tournament dedicated to supporting early stage social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurship can bring the business world closer to people, and social entrepreneurs are the visionaries who do things differently.
By participating in the Social Financial Trophy, tennis fans contribute to the socio-professional integration of young people from vulnerable backgrounds. With the funds obtained, a process of mediation and integration on the labor market in the tailoring profession will be initiated, within RetușArt, the social enterprise initiative of The Social Incubator Association.
By leveraging resources in the tournament, the Social Finance Association will facilitate access to financing for early stage social entrepreneurs. They will have the support of a consultant for the development of the business plan and help with applying to dedicated financial instruments.
The game system at the Social Financial Trophy is based on a 24-team knockout bracket, with the grand final being chair refereed. A match consists of a set with a tiebreak at 6-6.
Match MEntor takes stock after three years of activity
For three years, 172 young people from vulnerable environments, mostly from the child protection system, aged between 15 and 24, were supported during their social and professional integration, through Match MEntor, the program organized by The Social Incubator Association and supported through the IKEA Fund for Education and Development, financed by IKEA Romania and managed by the Bucharest Community Foundation.
The main objectives of Match MEntor focused on identifying the professional interests of young people, through individual discussions with mentors and through vocational counseling, and on increasing the degree of employability and professional integration of young people, through personalized support.
The Match MEntor concept was largely based on mentoring and brought together young people and specialists from various fields of activity to give them moral support and guide them towards a future job.
In total, 180 mentors have enrolled in Match MEntor. They provided the young people with constant support, motivated them to continue or complete their studies, worked a lot with the young people to increase their self-confidence and design individual career prospects, suited to their inclinations and abilities.