Monthly Archives: April 2014

Spiro John Latsis and the Public Benefit Foundation Continue Latsis Family’s Public Service Legacy

With a focus on culture, social welfare, scientific research and education, the activities of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation serve to preserve and continue the public service legacy. A number of Latsis family Spiro John Latsismembers constitute the Supervisory Board of the Foundation, including Spiro John Latsis. The Foundation’s activities involve the support of initiatives both in Greece and outside the country, demonstrating its international presence. Although it does have such a presence, the primary geographic focus of its funding is on Greece itself.

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation divides its activities into two broad categories. One of the categories includes the programmes that the Foundation itself designs and implements while the other category includes the third party initiatives that it supports and finances. Regardless of which category an initiative falls under, it receives support on a continuous and consistent level, contributing to the creation of synergies and the ensuring of optimal fund utilisation. Such support is in addition to the financial assistance the Foundation offers and is provided as a demonstration of the Foundation’s partnership-based approach towards the various organisations it provides funds to.

While the Foundation is committed to doing what it can to support Greek society in accordance with the values and priorities set by the legacy of John S. Latsis and the Foundation’s current activities, it is also aware that no single foundation’s assets are sufficient to cover all of the growing and evolving needs of society. For this reason, the Foundation selects the organisations and projects it funds carefully, with an eye on where its funds will have the highest multiplier benefit. It is able to make these selections by means of taking a clear-eyed and steady assessment of society and its pressing needs, an assessment taken alongside strategic and long-term planning.

Since 2008, the Foundation has been active in the provision of funds for one-year research projects, with the intent of advancing scientific research activities in various scientific fields within Greece. This initiative is also intended to promote collaborations between Greek and foreign universities as well as between Greek and foreign research foundations. The Foundation issues an annual open call in this context for research proposals eligible for funding. Since 2008, the Foundation has funded between 10 and 21 projects per year with the number of funded projects in the last few years remaining closer to the upper end of that range.

Overview of ’14 Research Projects in Social Sciences and Humanities

Every year, the John S. Latsis Foundation provides up to €12,000 each in funding for up to 25 scientific research projects spanning three scientific fields: Social Sciences and Humanities; Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Engineering, Information and Communication, Universe and Earth Sciences; Life Sciences. In 2014, the foundation received 946 Spiro Latsisproposals, and of these proposals 19 were eventually selected for funding. The Supervisory board, including Spiro Latsis and Mrs Margarita Latsis as well as the administrators and programme officers, continue the public service legacy.

In 2014, seven of the chosen scientific projects for funding were in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Given the social consequences and implications of the global economic crisis, and the acute affects that this crisis has caused to Greece and the Greek economy, it is unsurprising that two of the chosen research projects within the Social Sciences and Humanities dealt with the crisis. In “Networks and practices of solidarity in the urban matrix: new aspects of citizenship in Athens during economic crisis”, Martha Bouziouri and her team studied the effects of the economic crisis on Athens’ social fabric. In particular it was the aim of the project to disclose, map, characterise and interpret quantitatively and qualitatively the change in social solidarity and self-organisation occurring as a result of economic hardship and welfare cuts.

Another study linked to the economic crisis was “Fiscal consolidation policies and the underground economy: The case of Greece “which was conducted by Evi Pappa and Evgenia Vella of the European University Institute. The aim of this project was to assess the different types of Greek fiscal consolidation policy. New fiscal policy has focused mainly on reducing debt and deficit, and though there have been numerous academic analyses of such policy, this study was the first one to take into account “the underground economy” – i.e. an economy comprised of legal services and commodities hidden from the authorities to avoid taxation and national health payments – and to examine this micro economy’s effects on overall unemployment and productivity versus that of the traditional economy.

Unemployment and fiscal policy have naturally been important topics for Greece in recent years, however the John S. Latsis Foundation always funds projects with a diverse set of topics, aims and motivations, and in addition to Greek projects the foundation also funds many projects outside of Greece, a policy set to continue under the leadership of Spiro Latsis.

Cultural Project Initiatives Funded by the Latsis Foundation

The Latsis family in Greece has a long and distinguished history of supporting projects at a national and international level, which delivers benefits to the wider public. Many family members champion initiatives across a broad spectrum of fields, including education, science, and social welfare. The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation was established with the aim of executing, administering and managing the combined efforts of the family in this respect. Family members Marianna, Henrietta, Margarita and Spiro Latsis, constitute the Supervisory Board of the Foundation.

Spiro LatsisThe diversity of projects that have sparked the interest of the Latsis family is broad. Funding is provided in support of anything from a paediatric clinic, to academic teams entering challenging international science competitions. What defines each project selected by the Latsis Foundation, is its ability to deliver a long-term benefit to the public in some form, either by increasing public knowledge, or by leading directly or indirectly to far-reaching life enhancements. Part of the Foundation’s funding is directed toward small  or larger scale cultural projects.

At the end of 2013, the Latsis Foundation contributed to the Christmas Concert performed by the Kifissia Variety Orchestra. It was the third year running that the Foundation supported this event, which it also hosted at its headquarters, the Pallas Athena. A classical extravaganza, including works from Bach, Mozart and Haydn, the festive celebration brought together 300 people.

Earlier in 2013, the Foundation had provided financial support to a symposium entitled ‘The meaning and importance of competition (agon) in life and culture’. The brainchild of the former Greek General Secretariat for Culture, this gathering welcomed notable speakers, including the poet and Paris VIII professor of philosophy, Michel Deguy, and offered delegates the chance to discuss pertinent issues in relation to competition and its role in society.

As one final example, The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has also supported theatrical productions. It provided partial funding in 2013 for a production of Aristophanes’ ‘Lysistrata’ by the Theatre Lab Company in London, in which the adaptation was placed in the context of the ongoing social and economic fallout from the global financial crisis.

Latsis Foundation’s Public Benefit Work

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has worked since its establishment to maintain its responsibility of implementing and managing the Latsis family’s public benefit work both within Greece and outside the country. The public benefit work continues the public service tradition of John S. Latsis, with members of the family including Spiro Latsis sitting on the Foundation’s Supervisory Board. The Foundation’s work primarily focuses on education, social welfare, culture and scientific research, with a primary geographic focus on Greece in terms of funding. The Foundation works to maximise the potential of funds invested as well as to choose the best projects, those where the funds of the Foundation will have the most significant multiplier benefit.

Recently, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has continued to demonstrate its dedication to public service work and funding within education. It has worked to implement, alongside the Hellenic Mathematical Society, a programme of free distribution of publications to in excess of 3,000 primary and high school pupils. These pupils may have difficulty accessing mathematical publications and knowledge due to their studies taking place in the Greek periphery and at remote schools. The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is the exclusive financier of the programme, maintaining its work within broader initiatives designed to support the education and progress of Greek youth by supporting scientific and educational institutions.

Spiro LatsisThe Hellenic Mathematical Society aims to make sure that different kinds of pupils have equal learning opportunities and are able to maintain free access to mathematical knowledge. The Society also aims to upgrade mathematical education more generally. 3,000 issues of publications of the Society titled ‘Euclid A’ and ‘Euclid B,’ as well as ‘Little Euclid,’ were sent to branches of the Hellenic Mathematical Society, which then promoted the journals to the aforementioned remote schools. The journals were targeted at high school, lyceum and primary school students respectively and contained relevant mathematical exercises as well as general articles on developments in mathematical pedagogy.

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation also supported the Hellenic Mathematical Society in distributing teaching material to students who perform best at the Panhellenic Student Competitions of the Society. This initiative was aimed at ensuring optimal preparation of these students for the International and Balkan Student Olympiads. Greek students have traditionally performed well in international competitions and this work assists in continuing that tradition.

Latsis Foundation Funds Music Education for Children

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has proven to be committed to the promotion and enhancement of education in Greece across all disciplines and areas of knowledge and interest. One recent initiative the Foundation has taken is the programme known as “Little Musicians.” This programme was organised in conjunction with the Athens Conservatory and was presented in July 2013 at the Concert Hall of the Athens Conservatory. The “Little Musicians” programme has the objective of enhancing music education within Greece. The initiative works to achieve this goal by means of the implementation of a specialised music scholarship programme that provides educational funding for children with families unable to pay tuition costs for music education at this level. Spiro John Latsis

Children aged 6 through 12 all over the Greek region of Attica can enjoy the benefits of the programme. The programme can assist both absolute beginners in music as well as children who have experience in taking music lessons. The organisers aim to create a “musical piggy bank” through this initiative. They expect that further financial reinforcement of these funds is possible through other organisations and individuals who want to contribute to the future of musical education in Greece. Each student’s annual tuition is covered by 50% to 100% depending on criteria that consider the particular economic circumstances of each family as well as the child’s inclination toward music. Auditions to select children for this music scholarship opportunity were held on the 25th and 26th of September, 2013, with a concert providing further support for the programme held at the Athens Concert Hall on the 12th of September, 2013. The concert featured the participation of faculty, students, and alumni of the Athens Conservatory.

This initiative serves as a further involvement for the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation in its response to the ongoing financial crisis within Greece, in addition to continuing the Foundation’s work to promote and cultivate culture within Greece. The initiative is undertaken alongside one of the most established and respected musical education institutions in the country in the Athens Conservatory. It is hoped that the programme will do more than temporarily relieve financial stress on future musicians, further contributing to the cultivation of outstanding citizens down the road. The Foundation serves to continue the public benefit tradition of John S. Latsis, with members of the Latsis family including Spiro Latsis sitting on the Supervisory Board of the Foundation.