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Spiro John Latsis: Projects the Latsis Foundation has supported

The Latsis Foundation, originally founded by the late John Spiro Latsis, involves itself in programmes and initiatives in Greece and other countries, where the Foundation supports social Spiro Latsiswelfare, cultural, educational and scientific research projects.

Officially known as the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, the Foundation’s supervisory board consists of president Henrietta Latsis, and members Marianna, Margarita and Dr. Spiro Latsis. In essence, it is the Foundation’s responsibility to implement and manage the public benefit works of all Latsis family members.

Among the various recent initiatives the Latsis Foundation has supported, several stand out as significant achievements for the Foundation and its partners. For example, the Latsio Burn Centre, which cares for serious burns victims and is the only one of this nature in southern Europe. It is a state-of-the-art burns clinic that the Foundation donated to Greece in 2005 and it has enabled the Greek health services sector to improve and widen the scope of assistance it can provide to burns victims.

Since 2008, the Foundation has branched out in its funding and has supported a large number of 1-year research projects, of which many have been research activities in scientific disciplines particularly relevant to Greece. These projects have enabled Greek and overseas universities to work more closely together and is has been the Foundation’s aim to promote such collaboration further. Given that Spiro John Latsis has a Master’s degree in Logic and Scientific Method and a Bachelor degree in Economics and a PhD in Philosophy such projects are understandably given a large platform as part of the Foundation’s overall funding initiatives.

Last year, the Latsis Foundation supported no fewer than 18 projects, which included research fields like Life Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities and Physical and Engineering. Every year, the Foundation issues a public call for the following year’s 12-month research projects. No fewer than 946 exciting proposals had to be considered for 2014, before the final 19 applications were selected for funding.

This year the Latsis Foundation will support research projects like the one the University of the Aegean’s Social Sciences and Humanities department is conducting into the intricacies of the Yevanic dialect. An equally interesting research project run by the University of Ioannina, which investigates consumers’ willingness to pay more for agricultural produce if it means workers can enjoy fairer conditions, is also among the chosen funding projects for 2014.

Spiro John Latsis is Furthering Greek Academia through Father’s Legacy

Although the organisation has been around for nearly a decade, it was not until 2008 that the John S. Latsis Foundation began funding one year research projects in not just Greece, but in universities throughout Europe. The Foundation was set up two years after the death of Greek entrepreneur, John Latsis who also spent many years and his own money in helping spiro john latsiswelfare and scientific projects. Currently, the Foundation is growing annually with continued applicants from the field of science making full use of the organisation’s funding.

Continuing Latsis’ philanthropic work is his son, Spiro John Latsis who forms part of the supervisory board along with other members of his family. In order to remain a viable non profit organisation, the supervisory board has to work alongside the board of executives in deciding which applicant can receive funding. This combination of shrewd business sense with the humanist qualities inherited by the Latsis’ family members has ensured that the Foundation can continue helping the neediest of applicants without stretching the budget too far.

The primary function of the Foundation is to assist Greek research institutions and universities in a variety of scientific fields. Co-operation between Greek universities and others in Europe is also promoted by the Latsis Foundation in order to further advance Greek higher education. An open call is made for applications each year, which outlines what the Foundation is looking for in beneficiaries as the boards behind the organisation are committed to helping as many people as possible.

In 2008, the first year in which the Foundation decided to focus on education, there were 10 successful applications. Each following year has seen the Latsis legacy extend to ever more research projects, the highest of which was in 2010 when as many as 21 successful applications were made. There are three primary areas of science in which the Foundation focus their attention on; social sciences, physics and engineering as well as the life sciences. Every year, the organisation attempts to address each three years with an equal amount of funding, testament to the commitment it has to furthering all sciences.

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.

The Importance of the “It is Our Duty” Programme

The Latsis Foundation’s board members including Dr Spiro Latsis launched, in 2012, the “It is Our Duty” programme, a social solidarity initiative with the objective of helping disadvantaged members of Greek society especially those hit hard by the economic crisis, through collaborations with other organizations.

When the programme began, it emphasized, on areas in Attica and Thessaloniki, looking to provide immediate relief to families in need. To achieve this, the Foundation paired up with the Food Bank – Foundation to Fight Hunger in an effort to provide needy people with food aid, mainly for the elderly, large families, single-parent homes, and the unemployed. Together, they implemented a year-long food programme aiding 17 municipalities in Attica and eight in Thessaloniki. The initiative has since spread to Piraeus, divisions in Northern and Southern Athens, and the Saronic Islands. Spiro Latsis

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation also teamed up with local partners such as non-governmental organizations, parishes and municipal social services in order to trace the families or individuals who have had a hard time making ends meet.

Besides collaborating to create food aid programmes, the Latsis Foundation has also helped citizens in need of social protection, such as children, through collaboration with other organisations like the House of Arsis and Dikaioma sti Zoi. With the House of Arsis, the Foundation supports a relief centre for minors in Thessaloniki while Dikaioma sti Zoi supports adults and minors with disabilities in Crete.

While these programmes have proven to be helpful, the Latsis Foundation and board members such as Dr Spiro Latsis understand that social welfare programmes are always necessary. They also understand that Greek society is always changing, thus the societal needs will always be different. For this reason the Latsis Foundation looks to adapt to these changes in order to help as many people as they can.