The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is a charitable organisation that is based in Athens, Greece. The foundation was established in 2005 with the main objective of continuing the sterling public service work carried out by John S. Latsis. The foundation still retains members of the Latsis family such as Spiro John Latsis, Marianna Latsis, Henrietta Latsis and Margarita Latsis who each play prominent roles on the supervisory board of the foundation. The majority of the organisations and initiatives supported by the foundation are based in Greece, although there have also been numerous instances in the past where the foundation, which is overseen by Spiro Latsis and the other members of the Latsis family, has supported worthwhile causes outside of Greece.
The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation focuses on a number of specific fields and aims to provide funding and support for organisations to take part in initiatives within those fields. The fields of interest concern education, social welfare, scientific research and culture. In addition to supporting and funding third-party initiatives, the foundation also plans and implements a number of programmes and encourages organisations to take part in them. One such initiative that has proved to be extremely popular is the International Summer School project.
The International Summer School Project began in 2008 and was held annually for three years at the Pallas Athena building, home of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation amongst others. The main objective of the project was to encourage a total of thirty students from various universities and education centres across Greece to converge at Pallas Athena and spend a period of time studying and listening to guest speakers. Each annual project had a specific area of study attached with the initial project in 2008 concerning the topic of climate change. The projects have proved to be extremely popular and successful with all concerned.
The Latsis Foundation has also reached an agreement with a university in Italy to hold a series of annual summer schools relating to Adaptive Economic Dynamics. The summer schools will run until 2018 and will be based at Trento University in Italy with all funding and support provided by the foundation itself.
Situated within the historical Pallas Athena building in Athens, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation was established in recognition of the dedication and commitment shown by John S. Latsis in relation to the public service work that he carried out passionately. The foundation still includes members of the Latsis family within its hierarchy with Henrietta Latsis, Spiro John Latsis, Marianna Latsis and Margarita Latsis all members of the supervisory board. The supervisory board is largely responsible for the future funding and support strategies employed by the foundation and play an important role in ensuring that the available funding is used to its maximum potential.
The funding is allocated in two common ways, each of which is dependent on discussion by the foundation itself. Firstly, the foundation implements its own initiatives and encourages organisations to participate in them whilst offering funding to those that are interested. The second way in which funding is allocated is through third-party ventures. The foundation mainly supports organisations within Greece, but has also supported worthwhile causes and initiatives abroad and retains the desire to do this in the future.
The Latsis Foundation was formed in 2005 and supports groups and organisations that would like to take part in initiatives across a number of fields. The foundation is particularly keen to support initiatives that concern fields such as culture, social welfare, education and scientific research. The foundation has a strong track-record in relation to supporting scientific projects and since 2008 has been responsible for funding approximately 100 scientific research projects within Greece alone. The foundation is keen to improve scientific research activities even further and supports nineteen projects in 2014.
The 2014 funding allocation with regards to scientific projects assists initiatives and projects within fields such as Social Sciences, Life Science, Physical Sciences, Engineering Sciences and Humanities. Each of the projects awarded support by the Latsis Foundation receives funding that will support the project for a 12 month period. In total, there were 946 applications for funding which demonstrates the increasing need for charitable support and assistance.
In 2012, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation continues to seek ways to to help make a difference in education within Greece, one of which is the three-year support of the Corfu Summer Institute on Elementary Particle Physics and Gravity. The Summer Institute is held at the Mon Repos Conference Centre in Corfu and includes a summer school as well as three workshops.
These scientific meetings feature lecturers including eminent scientists working at research centres and universities from many different parts of the world. One of the research centres represented was the world famous European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN). The meetings are attended by researchers as well as postgraduate and doctoral students both Greek and international in origin. The Summer Institute has been a fixture in Corfu since 1982, seeing annual organisation since then. It also features seminars intended for primary and high school teachers as well as open lectures and multimedia scientific exhibitions intended to popularise complex science and allow it to be accessible to the general public.
The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has also provided partial funding in 2014 for the work undertaken by independent non-governmental organisation PRAKSIS. This work has the general aim of supporting groups that are socially vulnerable while minimising social as well as economic exclusion. This move demonstrates the Foundation’s commitment to funding projects that enhance and promote social welfare within Greece, while continuing the public service tradition of John S. Latsis. The Foundation has the fundamental responsibility of implementing and managing the public service efforts of the Latsis family, members of which, including Spiro Latsis, sit on the Foundation’s Supervisory Board.
NGO PRAKSIS does a significant amount of work to support the welfare of the socially vulnerable; in 2013, it set up a paediatric unit supported solely by the Foundation. During the first year of the paediatric unit’s operation, the paediatrician performed primary healthcare interventions for around 1,800 children totalling 2,760 interventions. The children were aged one to eleven. Beyond being the sole supporter in setting up the paediatric unit, the Foundation continues its support by covering a portion of operating costs of the unit, which continues to serve as a safety net for socially vulnerable families.
The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation finances, implements and manages numerous public benefit projects around the world, but with a specific focus on Greece. Spiro Latsis is a member of the Supervisory Board of the Latsis Foundation. Alongside his fellow board members Henrietta Latsis, Margarita Latsis, and Marianna Latsis, Spiro Latsis drives the work and activities of the Foundation, which acts a framework for the public benefit initiatives in which the family is involved.
In addition to supporting scientific research projects and those relating to culture and education, the Latsis Foundation places great emphasis on initiatives that seek to improve the social welfare of individuals. Within this framework, one organisation for which the Latsis Foundation provides funding is PRAKSIS. This autonomous, non-government body offers support to socially vulnerable groups, aiming to limit exclusion resulting from social and economic difficulties. The group established a paediatric clinic in 2013, and has since undertaken primary healthcare interventions numbering in excess of 2750. In the first year of its operation, some 1800 children under the age of 11 have benefited. Those supported come not only from Greece, but also from other countries such as Afghanistan and Syria. The Latsis Foundation funded the setting up of the paediatric unit, and provides funding for its ongoing annual operational costs.
Further social welfare initiatives in which the Latsis Foundation is involved include the charity network called ‘Together For Children’. Founded in 1996, the network comprises ten distinct charities working to help children in need. The network offers a synergistic input that assists the charities in working together for mutual benefit. Included in the network are the charities Cerebral Palsy Greece, Pan-Hellenic Association for Juvenile Diabetes, and PNOE – Friends in Intensive Care. Committed to helping each charity in the network, the John S. Latsis Foundation assesses the individual needs of each group, and provides funding and support as appropriate to maximise the benefits to children.
Among its other initiatives, the Latsis Foundation supports young people in Greece, and its financial support for the Summer Camp ‘Happy Children – Happy Youth’ is a further example of the benefits it delivers in this respect. For nearly 80 years, these summer camps have hosted around 150,000 children in vacation events designed to use art and other activities to offer psychosocial support. With increasing numbers of Greek children suffering the effects of poverty, the work of these summer camps has become even more important. Staffed by volunteers, the camps rely heavily on benevolent funding, and the John S. Latsis Foundation has contributed to the financial resources of the summer camps for several years.
In 2013, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, now headed by Dr Spiro Latsis, unveiled a new programme “Little Musicians” in partnership with the Athens Conservatory. Designed for children between the ages of 6 and 12 across Attica, Little Musicians is helping to enhance music education and to support the families of students that cannot meet the cost of tuition themselves.
Like other expressive arts, music is important for many obvious reasons. Expressive arts are central to a nation’s culture and development, but unfortunately since the economic crisis cutbacks have resulted in fewer children being able to enrich their education and their lives by learning to play instruments and read music. The President of the Athens Conservatory, Nikos Tsouchlos, asked of Greece what kind of country the people want to see when the economic situation improves, and what the people want for the children who are growing up in the midst of a crisis. Initiatives such as Little Musicians are an answer to these questions. Given the current climate the expressive arts might not be at the forefront of families’ concerns, and so it is the aim of Little Children to communicate the importance of music and give children who are facing difficulties the chance to succeed through a discipline they can grow to love and enjoy.
The Foundation provided scholarships to students based on a number of criteria, including musical ability and inclination, and individual financial circumstances. The scholarships cover the annual tuition of the chosen students, ranging from 50% to 100% of the entire cost. In addition to the funding provided directly to the foundation, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is also creating a fund which will allow other organisations and individuals to contribute to the cause.
The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation acts to finance, support and organise public benefit work both in Greece and abroad. Continuing the legacy of John S. Latsis and his public work and philanthropy, the foundation works mainly in the fields of social welfare, cultural preservation and development, education and scientific research. In light of the ongoing fiscal crisis, the foundation recently implemented a social solidarity programme to provide relief to the most vulnerable sectors of Greek Society. The foundation is responsible for managing the public benefit work of the Latsis family members who form the Supervisory Board, including Henrietta, Marianna, Margarita and the aforementioned Spiro Latsis.
John S. Latsis worked his way up and graduated college, traded nationally initially in the shipping industry and then the petroleum industry. He set up the first Greek export refinery and an export refinery in Rabigh. He then became involved in the finance and credit sector and purchased the Banque de Dépôts in Geneva, Switzerland. It is also in Geneva where his foundation is based, which he set up in 1975. The Foundation is a charitable concern that has a very good public image and standing, and it is run by the Latsis family, particularly Spiro Latsis.
The John S. Latsis Foundation funds the University Latsis prizes, an award given out by the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, the University of St. Gallen, the ETH Zurich and the University of Geneva. They have also endowed the Lakatos award. They also fund the European Latsis prize, which is given out by the European Science foundation, and the Swiss Latsis prize, which is awarded by the Swiss National Science foundation.
Under the management of the Latsis family members and especially of Spiro Latsis, the foundation is not sitting back. There are projects going on right now in the year 2014. The foundation is helping with the documenting of the Yevanic dialect, which is an endangered Greek dialect used by Jews in Greece. They are collecting oral texts through interviews with speakers, and are also conducting a linguistic study of the first grammar of the language.
The Foundation also works to stop the exploitation of Greek farmers and also working with the foundation of the Agricultural University of Athens, to help bring new farming techniques into the agricultural sector of Greece. The Latsis Foundation supports a research study into the history of discrimination as capitalist norms and governance spread through the world. The study may also show how certain ideologies that affected people in recent history may still affect people today. They are helping a study into the expansion of social practices of solidarity and the evaluation of the Billings active citizenship ideas around the framework of Greece and the impact the economic recession had. Another project is working with a number of universities to construct a Museum of Oral History (MOHI), which is set to research into languages and dialects in order to maintain records on them and preserve examples of them through things such as text collection and filming.
The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, including its Supervisory Board Latsis family members such as Spiro Latsis, continues to support education in Greece by promoting creative pedagogy in primary education. The new initiative, called “Learning Together,” brings educators and pupils together in a joint educational endeavour meant to support the carrying out of inspiring educational projects by supporting inspired teachers in delivering what they might not be able to without the assistance of the initiative. The proposals in response to the Foundation’s public call are assessed according to three criteria, which are edifying merit, feasibility, and creativity. The total number of valid applications received by the Foundation was 125, with 86 primary schools and 39 kindergartens from 28 islands submitting applications. 17 projects are financed for the 2013-2014 school year.
The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has also supported the advancement of scientific research. In 2008, the Foundation undertook another initiative meant to achieve this purpose. The International Summer Schools initiative was established and exclusively funded by the Foundation for three consecutive years, and the area of study selected was the environment. The main objective of the International Summer Schools initiative has been to allow for 30 Greek as well as foreign postdoctoral and postgraduate students to participate each year in the attendance of lectures given by invited speakers both from outside Greece and from Greece itself. Greek universities and research centres have served as the organising bodies of the International Summer Schools.
The first of the International Summer Schools was held in July 2009 on the Foundation’s premises in the Pallas Athena building. The focus of the first International Summer School was climate and the impacts of climate change. The Department of Meteorology and Climatology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki organised the event in collaboration with the Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development of the National Observatory of Athens. The second International Summer School was held in July 2010, focusing on the functioning and evolution of Mediterranean Marine Ecosystems. The Institute of Oceanography of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research organised this event. The third International Summer School focused on Mediterranean agroforestry and the role it plays in current environmental challenges. This event took place in 2011with the collaborative organisation of four Greek and foreign institutions.
In addition, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has agreed with Trento University’s Department of Economics on funding for a series of Summer Schools between 2009 and 2018 in the area of Adaptive Economic Dynamics.