On January 24, Ambassador Alexander Arvizu and Public Affairs Officer Valerie O’Brien traveled to Korce where they launched the first call for proposals of the U.S. Embassy’s Democracy Commission Small Grants Program for 2014. The event brought together civil society organizations and local government representatives of Korça, Pogradec, Erseke and Devoll districts. While addressing the participants, Ambassador Arvizu noted that “The United States has supported the growth of civil society in Albania for more than two decades, and the Embassy’s Democracy Commission Small Grants Program has played a vital role in this sector of Albania’s growing democracy.” He also stated that despite challenges and difficulties, the civil society sector has grown stronger over the past two years. The event included a presentation by the PAS staff on the priorities, objectives, and technical aspects of the Small Grants Program. The meeting also sparked lively discussions with the participants on how their projects can better serve the development of their region through partnerships of citizens and civil society, with local government and with businesses. The event was extensively covered by national and local print and broadcast media.