Supported Activities

The promotion of Education in the broader sense of the word is naturally among the primary aims of the Foundation. In this chapter, it is firstly worth noting the Foundation’s commitment to supporting the Efstathia J. Costopoulos Foundation as regards the running expenses of the Yiayia’sGarden Model Nursery School which the Costopoulos family established in
Just as the inception of the J. F. Costopoulos Foundation is linked to a major event for the Bank, the establishment of the Efstathia J. Costopoulos Foundation is associated with the official opening of the Bank’s Main Building on February 20, 1987; during the inauguration ceremony it was announced that the family, the Bank and the Foundation intended to contribute to the rebuilding of Kalamata following the earthquakes of September, 1986 by donating a plot and building a model nursery school. The Bank undertook to build and equip the nursery school on a plot which formed part of the dowry of Efstathia J. Costopoulos and had been inherited by Anastasia and Yannis S. Costopoulos. Since 1994, when the nursery school began to operate, its operational expenses are covered by the same three parties. At this point we should let Anastasia Costopoulos, Vice-Chairman of the Foundation, relate the creation of Yiayia’s Garden:
“It was several months after the night of the earthquake in Kalamata in September, 1986. The tears had dried and the image of our homeless fellow citizens was beginning to fade. Everything had been organised more or less, and we in Athens spent several evenings talking about what we could do for the people of our ruined city from then on… Among the various plans formed in our minds and hearts the word “nursery school” had come up; that was an initiative which could go ahead only with the aid and contribution of friends and specialists. So by the day my brother Yannis S. Costopoulos called me to sign the articles of association for the nursery school, things were already under way. The contract was about a creche to be built on a large section of the garden of our grandmother Efstathia J. Costopoulos. It was going to be called “Yiayia’s
Garden”; the architectural design was to be offered by the architect Alexandros Samaras, and the structural and mechanical designs by Victor Ampakoumkin and Elias Cavoulakos, respectively. The in-situ architectural work was to be undertaken by the architects Vilma Apostolaki and Giorgos Papaemmanouil, who lived and worked in Kalamata. In any case our property—a strip of land with an orchard and a vegetable garden and a small ground floor house on Aristomenous Street—had fallen victim to the earthquake. Any kind of initiative was welcome but also to the detriment of the old city, as the drive for reconstruction spelled the end for the few remaining gardens; most of the old mansions had already been damaged and blocks of flats rose one after the other. Now we had found the best possible solution to trigger our memories from our childhood summers: half of the garden was to be turned into a playground for the children, and the other half would remain as an orchard for the pupils to take care of and learn some gardening. The school was built, and many classes of various sizes were formed. Since then I have been happily involved in the development of the nursery school, following closely the various aspects and the requirements of its operation and making some good friends in the process. The school, thanks to the dynamic contribution of its current Head, Adriani Roussopoulou-Kallikouni, is now in great demand. In addition to the pupils from poor families, every year we get more requests than we can accommodate from parents anxious to enrol their children, and we are forced to turn some of them down. It is an achievement which has been embraced by the city and ties us even more closely to it. Besides, the obligations we undertook towards this once hard-hit local community remain the same
and more. The donation was made, and the fairytale stops here.”

Each year the Efstathia J. Costopoulos Foundation hosts toddlers and preschool children from families with very low incomes or others who are in temporary social or financial difficulties. Tuition and meals are provided for free. The specially trained staff provides the everyday, child-centred educational programme, offers additional individual or group classes in music education and painting and organises many extra activities within the school or in the city. Special attention is available for children whose parental care is deemed insufficient, through the Afternoon Programme which is hosted in a separate area with a homelike atmosphere.
In addition to the educational programme and the activities for children, the school provides workshops for the education and training of parents, through which unemployed parents discover and develop new skills,
express themselves creatively and gradually enter or re-enter the job market. The school thus continues to support over time its former pupils—over twelve hundred and fifty till now—and their families. All these
activities are constantly supported by a psychologist and a social worker. Moreover, the process is under way for the creche to be licensed as a kindergarten, which is now part of the obligatory education in our country. Our support to Education goes beyond this school and into the area of scholarships, the endowment of university Chairs, the contributions for organising scientific meetings and the provision of funds to specific
research projects.
It has been our constant concern from the outset to keep down our operating costs. To this end, the Foundation did not develop a mechanism for assessing scholarship applicants, opting instead to provide grants
through established organisations. For instance, we have a long working relationship with the American Educational Foundation (Fulbright Programme), we have supported the Princeton University Programme in Hellenic Studies and we endowed the Hellenic Harvard Foundation when it was set up. All these institutions select students to be awarded grants for studies in the United States of America.
In Western Europe we have promoted Byzantine studies by awarding for a number of years the Stavros J. Costopoulos scholarship of the University of Oxford in this field, and also by supporting the scholarship programme of the Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the University of Vienna, the Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Philology and Byzantine Art History of the University of Munich and the Chair of Modern Greek Studies of the Free University of Berlin. Similarly, in the early 1990s we endowed the Chair of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the University of Oxford before providing support to its scholarship
programme, as stated above.
In Greece, one indicative example is the University of Crete, which we supported with regard to a grant awarded by the Department of History and Archaeology on the subject of Western Art. Another long association is that with the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), with which we worked for the selection of five Greek students who were supported throughout their studies at the newly-set up Chair of Greek-Turkish Studies at Bilgi University of Istanbul. Another project with ELIAMEP in recent years concerns the Stavros J. Costopoulos research fellowship with a focus on international relations and European
integration; this introduced into the research of foreign policy in Greece a practice which is tried and tested and quite widespread in Western Europe and America and enables Greek scholars to seek professional advancement beyond our national borders. Commenting on this research fellowship, ELIAMEP adds that “it has served as a vehicle for promoting the participation of Greece in the discourse among the international academic community on issues around the progress and the future of European integration. By attracting distinguished researchers with a long experience abroad, it has contributed also to the upgrading and the advancement of the research carried out in Greece”. Another move in the direction of supporting young Greek scientists was that for a postdoctoral scholarship at the Bologna Center of the Johns Hopkins University.
In addition to our long-running involvement to undertakings such as the above there have been various instances of one-off support to internationally renowned and highly symbolic Chairs of Greek studies. Such cases include the Nikos Kazantzakis Chair of the Centre for Modern Greek Studies at San Francisco State University and the Odysseus Elytis Chair at Rutgers State University of New Jersey, as well as the National
Centre for Hellenic Studies and Research at La Trobe University in Australia.
The will to learn and go deeper into one’s field is cultivated from a young age, and the same is true of training in a profession. The Foundation has therefore often supported secondary schools which foster the appropriate spirit of enquiry or teach a profession under a scientific method. One of these is the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, whose reputation extends beyond the Greek borders as it caters for students from all neighbouring countries. The Foundation has also taken special care of the
Zografeion Lyceum in Istanbul.
In recognition of the special value of libraries in the education process, we have supported via the Council for Children’s and Adolescents’ Libraries the operating and expansion costs for three of its 28 Libraries in
Ermoupolis, Syros; Velvento, Kozani; and Myki, Xanthi.
Apart from schools and universities, the Foundation takes an interest in the practical training in
professional skills as provided by many societies; prominent among these is the Girls Education Society, which has been supported unfailingly since the Foundation’s establishment.
We shall end this chapter with a reference to an initiative undertaken jointly with seven other Foundations: Eugenides, Lambrakis, A.G.Leventis, Bodossaki, Stavros Niarchos, Alexander S. Onassis and the National
Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation. In the last four years these eightfoundations, including ours, have been working on the Education and Development Initiative, with the aims of preparing a Study of Employment for Graduates of Higher Education, developing a web-based educational Game on the internet, providing educational and cultural material for schools over the internet, preparing a Guide for Studies (both undergraduate and postgraduate) and Employment and setting up a Network of School Innovation. The first four aims have been attained; for the fifth aim, which is also the main one, the Foundations are in talks with the Hellenic Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs so that they can hand over the project as it is now to be continued by the Ministry.
Irrespective of its ultimate outcome, the Education and Development Initiative has helped us to establish regular communication with similar foundations with which we had already collaborated on occasion, as it has
been mentioned before, particularly in the area of supporting art projects.