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DEVELOPERS: scaling up the community level of the Next Step Program

8 March 2019

The background

The background of the project is shaped by the Next Step Program implementation in the last 6 years as a joint initiative that BCNL had undertaken together with the key partners – Bulgarian Association for People with Intellectual Disabilities (BAPID) and Global Initiative in Psychiatry-Sofia (GIP – Sofia). Our achievements, lessons learned and impressions outline the following background specifics that have to be taken into consideration regarding to the supported decision-making (SDM):

  • Raised awareness on the need for SDM reform among disability community and decision-makers.
  • Increased advocacy leadership of more than 12 partner organizations (pilot project teams, partners within the National civic petition 7000 and program partners – BAPID and GIP), and motivated self-advocates and parents to take part directly in advocacy initiatives
  • Created high expectations among key stakeholder groups to adopt the draft law on SDM in Bulgaria
  • The Next Step Program is well recognized as a resource center in Bulgaria and in abroad on the SDM topic

The seven pilot projects within the Next Step Program are currently investing efforts in strengthening the community recognition of their initiatives. In this way, they will secure their own sustainable future development as grass-root initiatives. Being the national coordinator of the program and the leader in shaping the methodology and legal concept of SDM within the Bulgarian context, BCNL is now ready to position itself as a conductor between the national and the grass-root level.


The main purpose of the project is to support the process of reloading the Next Step Program as a community program.


Overall goals

  1. To coordinate the overall Next Step Program with a focus on encouraging the program partners to lead the advocacy for the adoption of the SDM law.
  2. To develop the capacity of the program to serve as a key community based instrument for a sustainable societal change.
  3. To increase the level of knowledge on how the change within the communities is achieved through self-reflection and self-evaluation instruments.


Main strategies and activities


  1. Coordinating the overall Next Step Program - we will continue to focus on coordination of the Next Step Program within all its elements – advocacy, piloting SDM, research, communication, networking and exchange
  2. Strengthen the program connection to its constituencies and support the role of the pilots as community developers - we will support the pilot projects to formulate their vision for strategic development which we consider is important for the sustainability of the whole program and for the recognition of their role as community leaders.  
  3. Design thinking of the SDM concept and knowledge upgrade - the analyses, research methodologies, practical algorithms and theoretical constructs that were developed within the previous projects need to be upgraded in order to reflect the new findings and experience gathered within the Next Step program.
  1. International exchange - the Next Step Program can share the Bulgarian experience to other colleagues from other countries and communities where SDM reforms are being prepared or are already implemented.

Timeframe of the project: 01.01.2019 – 31.12.2020

The project is implemented by: Bulgarian Center for Not-for-profit Law (BCNL) in partnership with Bulgarian Association of People with Intellectual Disabilities (BAPID) and Global Initiative on Psychiatry (GIP).

Total project budget: 220 000 USD

 Financed by: Open Society Foundations