We, the Center for Citizen Initiatives (CCI) began the first steps of our work as independent American investigative citizens who didn't expect to found an organization. We traveled to the USSR to meet the enemy face to face in 1983, to educate ourselves. The Cold War was in full force. The Korean airliner 007 has just been shot down by Soviet MIGs. Traveling around in the Soviet Union, we experienced a system that was deplorable, but a people who were obviously good human beings and actually more similar to ourselves than we ever would have expected. This began the saga of trying to comprehend the differences between the two mindsets, expectations, and values of the two superpowers.
Due to Gorbachev's ascension to power in 1985, the development of glasnost and perestroika, then the Yeltsin years of chaos and Russia's desolution, we were able to grow unimpeded, one program after another, at the grassroots of Russian society. Through the years these included: taking thousands of American "citizen diplomats" to the USSR in the 1980s; the introduction of Alcoholics Anonymous which in 2007 celebrated its 20th Anniversary in over 100 Russian cities; created in 1989, Economic Development Program (EDP) the first-ever business management program for Soviet entrepreneurs; later EDP was expanded by USAID to a seven-year program; a five-year Agricultural Initiative for private farmers starting in 1993 which eventually developed the US extension model which now operates in 61 regions of Russia; a seven-year Environmental Initiative for water quality, nuclear site cleanup, the Presidents Management Training Program; Non-Profit Management Program; and lastly, the mapping and implementing of the Lake Baikal rehabilitation program in the late 1990s; created Russian Initiative for Self Employment (RISE) a five-year micro-incubator business program for unemployed women in St.Petersburg; and then developed a 12-year business management training program, the Productivity Enhancement Program (PEP), the largest such program ever run between the US and Russia; and many smaller programs and projects.
Since 1994 we have operated Russian offices in St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Volgograd, Voronezh, Dubna, Rostov on Don, Novosibirsk, and Vladivostok. Over 60 regional satellite operations affiliate with us to carry out programs deep in Russia's regions.
During this period we have provided US-based business training to about 7,000 Russian entrepreneurs from 71 regions and over 700 cities outside of Moscow.
For details check website: www.ccisf.org