USRF has supported the Russian government’s efforts aimed at improving the quality of legal education in Russia. In 2014, the Foundation developed a program called Legal Education Exchange (LEX). The goal of the program was to help Russian law faculty adopt an experiential learning approach to teaching law through new practice-based curricula, teaching methodology workshops, and promoting collaborative efforts of Russian and American law professors. One example of successful collaboration between Russian universities and American law schools is the project implemented by Russian Foreign Trade Academy (RFTA) in partnership with the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. As a result of this collaboration, RFTA developed a set of teaching materials (comprised of a Teacher’s Book and Student’s Book) for several practice-based courses that have formed the basis of RFTA’s first masters level program, Legal Regulation of International Economic Activity. They include courses in Trial Advocacy, Legal Research, Contract Drafting, IP Law for International Business, Labor Disputes, and others. All developed materials are used in class at RFTA and have also been made available online for free access on the Academy’s website.
From 2010-2017, the Enhancing University Research and Entrepreneurial Capacity (“EURECA”) Program was an important initiative that promoted cooperation of Russian and American universities in such fields as developing innovative approaches to, and commercialization of, intellectual property and technology transfers. The primary focus of this program was to enhance the entrepreneurial capabilities of Russian universities, and was perhaps best illustrated by St. Petersburg-based Research University ITMO’s partnership with UCLA. The project not only improved ITMO’s innovative infrastructure, but also helped bring the university’s R&Ds to the international market. For example, the launch of start-up accelerator iDealMachine became a real milestone in ITMO’s innovative ecosystem development. With $6M in initial funding, the accelerator has – to date – supported seven projects. Presently, ITMO shares its best practices in several Russian regions and helps universities bring their start-ups to innovative markets. New entrepreneurship centers were established in Samara and Vologda Regions and the Mordovian Republic.
The Yegor Gaidar Fellowship Program in Economics (YGAFP) supported the long-term development of Russia’s market economy by providing opportunities for leading Russian economists to conduct collaborative research with U.S. economic experts. In 2014, USRF expanded the program to include young American specialists who spent up to three months in Russia conducting research and working in Russian institutions.
In 2010 and again in 2015, USRF funded two projects of the St. Petersburg NGO Development Center devoted to enhancing the capacity-building of Russian NGOs. The first project was aimed at increasing the quality of financial management in the non-profit sector. To that end, the Center developed a training course “Financial Literacy for NGOs” that was disseminated to 167 NGOs from various regions across Russia. The Center then published this course and distributed 500 hard copies. Additionally, over 4,000 NGOs were given access to the course through the Center of Distance Learning of Moscow State University. The Center’s second project focused on increasing fundraising capabilities and institutional development of Russian NGOs. The project was quite timely in that Russian NGOs had to learn how to raise funding domestically after funding from abroad was decreased. As a result of this second project, a new practice-oriented course on fundraising and entrepreneurial skills for NGOs has been implemented.
USRF has funded in excess of 75 small projects (<$100,000) in such critical areas as mediation, bankruptcy, legal education, legal clinics, non-profit management and fundraising, microfinance, and financial literacy. These grants have also supported youth entrepreneurship (through Junior Achievement), analysis of the overall business climate in Russia (through OPORA), and transparency in court procedures (through the Nikitinsky Center for Legal Initiatives).