Tag Archives: Spiro Latsis

Greek NGOs Work Hard to Support Unaccompanied Migrant Children

In recent years, irregular entry of migrants into Greece – many of whom are from the Middle East – is an issue that Greek authorities have been working hard to bring under control. Unaccompanied children and youths make up a good number of the new arrivals and, with the country still working to find stability after a devastating financial crisis, systems for protecting minors are not entirely adequate.

According to a human rights report, more than 1,900 unaccompanied children arrived in Greece in early 2016 alone, with more than half under the age of 14. Social services such as psychological care, guardianship and language training are taken up by civil society organisations, many that are constrained by lack of funds.

Children who are separated from their caregivers are more susceptible to abuse, exploitation and neglect. As vulnerable members of society, it is the shared responsibility of governments, citizens and non-profit organisations to protect and care for unaccompanied minors, which is an obligation captured by the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child. It is with this in mind that several organisations in Greece have teamed together to fund a programme to address the issue of unaccompanied and separated children.

Various European public interest groups, led by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM), the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, and the Bodossaki Foundation, among others, have come together in an initiative called “Never Alone – Building our future with children and youth arriving in Europe.”

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, which has Greek businessman Spiro Latsis as an executive member, was established in 2005 to continue the charitable works of its founder, John S. Latsis. The Foundation has put public benefit at the forefront of its work by funding and managing programs aimed at improving various aspects of Greek society, including health, education, science and culture.

The EPIM fund is designed to offer assistance to civil society organisations that will focus their attention on three important aspects:

  1. Building secure networks and structures that aid the identification process of unaccompanied and separated minors.
  2. Providing protection mechanisms that improve guardianship systems for these children.
  3. Raising awareness among the public on issues that affect unaccompanied minors and increasing support towards youth programs.

The overall goal of the projects, funded to the tune of 450,000 Euros over a two-year period, will be to ensure the children who make the highly-risky journey into Greece have access to information and services such as accommodation and protection. It’s the aim of the various groups working together to see that the migrant children and youths have access to high-quality medical, psychological, social and legal support that will help them integrate into the Greek society.

Continuing Efforts

Helping unaccompanied and separated children find new life in Greece is one of the humanitarian aspects of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. In 2015, the Foundation opened an Accommodation Centre for Unaccompanied Minors that addressed the need to provide quality accommodation to minors who have lived in detention centres for long periods. Along with proper housing, the Accommodation Centre also provides legal counselling, mediation services, Greek language courses, and psychosocial support to its residents.

When it comes to child welfare, the Foundation has focused on initiatives that improve and increase the provision of social services to children. It has funded some initiatives, including paediatric clinics, heating fuel programmes for orphanages, and meeting the core costs of risk youth centres and children’s hospices. Since many child welfare organisations struggle to raise finances to keep going, the Foundation continually strives to support them.

While Greek legislation has provisions for the temporary appointment of guardians, the growing number of minors has put a strain on public workers’ caseloads and, since the number of daily actions that require a guardian’s consent are many, the absence of a special guardians body has made it all the more necessary for charitable foundations to step in and assist however they can. It’s a gap that the civil society has shown a willingness to cover, as evidenced by the actions of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and others.

Based on the experience of the involved foundations and additional research, the potential for improved knowledge and practical solutions grows. Through the project, caregiving staff will get to interact with the children and youths and possibly uncover some of the reasons behind their journeys; an issue of concern in many European countries. A policy brief from this can address the political reasons, with the increased awareness helping Greece and other member states to address issues of neglect and exploitation of children and youths.

 

Major Donors to Greek College Honored

Since its establishment in 1886, Anatolia College in Thessaloniki, Greece, has paved the way for high-quality education. A private, non-profit educational institution, the college has grown in bounds to encompass three subdivisions: The American College of Thessaloniki (ACT), Anatolia High School and Anatolia Elementary. The school owes its progress to the close working relationship between American and Greek educational stakeholders and generous contributions from donors.

Anatolia College is committed to helping students develop their talents by providing innovative educational solutions. The school aims to help as many students as possible, regardless of financial circumstance. One of its core goals is to impact the wider society by building lasting partnerships that help in the development of socially responsible initiatives. This target aligns well with the work of donors, many of whom like to contribute towards public benefit initiatives.

Anatolia College’s donors play an important role that the school sought to recognise on 3rd June 2016 during a special ceremony. Amongst the donors acknowledged for their contributions was the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, named after the late philanthropic businessman by the same name. At the ceremony, the Foundation was honoured with the Carl C. Compton award, which is named after the institution’s fifth president.

Spiro Latsis

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the late John S. Latsis; a Greek businessman who was respected for his business acumen and numerous acts of charity. He embraced hard work from a young age and established a business empire that included interests in construction, banking, agricultural goods and petroleum. John never shied from helping his countrymen through public benefit initiatives and it was in this spirit that his family – Henrietta (wife); Spiro, Marianna and Margarita (children) – established the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation in 2005, two years after he passed away.

The Foundation works with various organisations and civil society partners in Greece to fund and manage initiatives across a number of fields including health, science, education, environment and social welfare. A Supervisory Board, of which Spiro Latsis is a member, and an Executive Board oversee the work of the Foundation. In addition to driving programs that bring social benefit, the Foundation has also taken up grant-making activity to prioritise emergency relief for citizens. Additionally, capacity building, academic and research reward, infrastructural improvement and community development remain amongst the Foundation’s objectives.

Family business

After the death of John S. Latsis, Spiro Latsis took over the management of his father’s business interests. Whilst the family still maintains a presence in the shipping industry, much of the wealth has been redirected to other sectors. There are stakes in oil, real estate and investment banking. Spiro Latsis has three degrees from the London School of Economics and is an Honorary Fellow and Member of the Court of Governors of the London School of Economics.

 

Anatolia College: Brief History

Anatolia College was founded in 1886 as a theological seminary and was originally called the Anatolia College of Mersovan. Charles Tracy served as the seminary’s president, with many of the students being Greek and Armenian. The faculty included American teachers, thanks to the work of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, which established its presence decades before.

In the 1920’s, Anatolia college was reopened in Thessaloniki, with rented buildings in Harilaou serving the school’s needs. The Mission School for Girls in Thessaloniki also became a part of Anatolia and in 1934, the college moved to a new campus. At the turn of World War II, the school was closed and used as a military hospital and later on, was occupied by German forces. It wasn’t until after the war ended that the school reopened and through the support of the community, established itself as a strong learning institution.

The original element of Anatolia College is Anatolia High School, which provides education in accordance with the Greek Ministry of Education. The high school curriculum is taught in Greek, except for courses in Art, Computers and English. The American College of Thessaloniki is the tertiary division and is recognised by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Undergraduate programs at ACT are also accredited by the Open University in the UK.

Anatolia Elementary formally opened its doors in 2005 and features a kindergarten and elementary school.

Some prominent Greek personalities have passed through Anatolia College. Gikas Hardouvelis, who graduated in 1973, is the current Minister of Finance in Greece. The Mayor of Thessaloniki, Yiannis Boutaris, is also an alumnus of the institution, having graduated in 1960. The former CEO of Titan America, Aris Papadopoulos, is another famous figure associated with Anatolia.

Keeping Children Safe Whilst Playing Water Sports

From thrilling water sports to fascinating marine biology, the seas around us are an invaluable resource for fun, education, and relaxation. But the water can also be extremely dangerous. In Europe, various water sporting activities can be the cause for up to 47,000 injuries every year according to research by Child Safety Europe.

The Aegean Sea is a desirable and popular holiday destination: with its stunning collection of nearly 6000 islands, it is an ideal location to indulge in water sporting activities. Entrepreneur Spiro Latsis – a board member of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation – is entirely dedicated to improving water safety so that children can continue to enjoy the aquatic fun attainable in Greece. In order to help improve safety for visitors and locals, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation ran a presentation on Safe Water Sports’ educational initiatives on board the Neraida Floating Museum.

Safe Water Sports is a Greek non-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness about water safety. Through a range of educational activities, Safe Water Sports is hoping to protect thousands of beach visitors from needless accidents.

Spiro Latsis

Following the successful and informative event at the Neraida Floating Museum, here are four of the main educational activities that were presented to keep children safe at sea:

I Pay Attention-I Learn-I Care

“I Pay Attention-I Learn-I Care” is an educational program brought to schools in collaboration with Greece’s Coast Guard Directorate of the Port Police. The program introduces children to essential information about water safety. The material has been adaptably designed in order to be accessible by children of any age ranging from the first year of Primary School, to the third year of Junior High School. The program is run every school year between March and June and next year, will be presented to 350 schools, reaching 30-50,000 pupils.

Diligence from parents can often be just as important as educating children about water safety. Therefore, when the “I Pay Attention-I Learn-I Care” program visits schools, there will also be a presentation day available for parents to learn more about the project and the organisation’s initiatives.

By teaching children water safety at an early age, Spiro Latsis hopes that accidents can be prevented in the long term.

Octopus Seif and the Three Sea-Guards

Coinciding with extensive in-class educational packages, Safe Water Sports has also launched a brand new book by writer Vangelis Iliopoulos. Vangelis Iliopoulos is a popular and much loved Grecian children’s author who, since 1995, has released dozens of children’s books and now acts as the Board Chair of the eminent Circle of the Greek Children’s Book. In connection with the Safe Water Sports program, Iliopoulos has written “Octopus Seif and the Three Sea-Guards” as an engaging tool to teach children important water safety lessons in an entertaining, yet valuable way.

Water Sport Safety Videos

Whilst a fairy-tale book might engage the imaginations of younger children, Safe Water Sports has also presented a range of exciting and informative films to reach older age groups.

By enlisting the help of famous sportsmen, such as Olympic Windsurfing Gold Medallist Nikolas Kaklamanakis, the organisation has created a collection of high octane sports videos. The videos provide invaluable safety information, as well as generating excitement, which will inspire people to take part in water sports whilst ensuring they take the recommended safety precautions.

Safe Water Sports Website and Mobile App

Safe Water Sports has designed an informative website and mobile app in order to keep people constantly aware and up to date with the latest safety information. The website and app are both easy to use services that provide extensive legal advice and safety tips regarding the vast array of different water sports available in Greece.

The service works as a search engine for water sports activities. All users need to do is type in what water activity you’re interested in and the app will show you all of the fully legal and trusted water sport providers in that area. Alongside the useful water sports company database, the website and app also offer safety tips and advice. The mobile app allows users to access the information they may require from any location.

Another benefit of the Safe Water Sports mobile app is that it can provide safety information for beaches without lifeguards. As not every one of Greece’s 2,900 beaches can have an active lifeguard, the Safe Water Sports mobile app provides invaluable information that visitors would otherwise not have access to. Details and facts such as water depths and the type of beach is available via the Safe Water Sports app.

With so many active and engaging initiatives underway, Spiro Latsis and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation are confident that Safe Water Sports will save thousands of people from inessential accidents whilst enjoying the beautiful Greek beaches and exhilarating aquatic activity.

Greek Students Celebrate Creativity at Municipal Theatre of Piraeus

In May 2016, over 500 students came together for a two-day festival at the Municipal Theatre of Piraeus. The festival featured theatrical presentations which were staged by secondary school students from seven different schools in the Piraeus area. The theatrical productions included works by celebrated playwrights, including Sophocles and Samuel Beckett.

The festival was sponsored by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, which supports the development of culture, arts and the sciences. The board members of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, including Spiro Latsis, oversee its charitable works and contributions. 

Events of the Festival 

The theatrical festival was produced over the course of nine months and involved the cooperation of students and teachers. The students themselves played an important role in coordinating the staging and direction of the productions within the “The Third Bell or Theatre with a Difference” projects.

The festival used theatrical production development to introduce students to Greek theatre and history. Students were able to gain all-round valuable insight by directly participating in all aspects of staging a theatrical performance, skills which will benefit them throughout their education. The event was made open to the public and admission was free of charge.

Featured Works 

The seven theatrical productions represented works from both modern and classical periods. Featured playwrights included notable Greek scholars as well as world-wide literary luminaries. Seven directors worked closely with the students in order to guide them through each step of production.

On 7th May, students from Kallipoli High School performed an adaptation of “Our Great Circus”, originally written by Jakovos Kampanellis. The play focused on themes of freedom and Greek history. Kallipoli students were assisted by Nikos Vasileiou.

Also on 7th May, the student group from the 9th Junior High School of Piraeus, debuted their performance of “Stories of the Gentleman”, with the help of director Giannis Moschos. The play was based on texts written by Anton Chekhov.

The second day of the festival also featured productions from secondary school students. Students from Ionidios Model High School of Piraeus staged a performance of “Oedipus the Tyrant”, written by legendary Greek philosopher and playwright, Sophocles.

Although the subject matter and themes of the play are quite mature, this renowned text allowed students to become acquainted with the scope and possibilities of theatre. They worked under the direction of Aliki Danezi-Knutsen.

Zanneio Experimental High School featured their production of the famous satirical “Waiting for Godot”, written by one of the greatest modern playwrights, Samuel Beckett. Although this play is certainly advanced for secondary school students, it is a fantastic introduction to powerful theatre commenting on society. The students were directed and assisted by Thanos Tokakis.

Spiro Latsis

History of the Piraeus Municipal Theatre 

Students who participated in the festival had the inspiring opportunity to perform in the historical Municipal Theatre of Piraeus. The theatre recognises important cultural and historical significance for local residents.

First constructed in the 1890’s, the theatre officially opened in 1895. The principal architect of the structure, Ioannis Lazarimos, was a resident of Piraeus, as well as a professor at the National Technical University. The theatre was built in a neoclassical style and its rectangular design is 34 x 45 meters, with a combined area of 6000 square meters.

Located in the heart of the city on Korai Square, the building is a famous sight in the city of Piraeus. Over the years, it has developed a reputation as a historic destination for theatrical and musical performances. Its famous stage has featured productions in the fields of opera, drama and dance.

Following a period of restoration, the Municipal Theatre of Piraeus has now reopened and continues to stage a variety of productions. The interior and exterior of the building were completely renovated to restore the theatre to its full potential.

Whilst a sufficient amount of work took place in order to renovate the 1300-seat auditorium, many of the signature features of the building remain intact. For example, the baroque style stage is still predominantly in its original condition and the dominating chandelier in the auditorium continues to light the room as it has for decades.

Future Productions 

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation plans to continue to work with Greek students and provide opportunities that encourage directly engaging with culture, art and history.

Swimming in History: The Neraida Floating Museum at Flisvos Marina

The Neraida ship has become a symbol of the Greek shipping industry for thousands of maritime enthusiasts around the world. With a history of wartime rescue and tourist travel, the Neraida has become a popular and highly regarded attraction since it was reintroduced as a floating museum by The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation (under the supervision of Henrietta, Marianna, Margarita and Spiro Latsis) in 2013.

1. A Special Tour
2.
The History of the Neraida
3.
Converting History

A Special Tour

After its much publicised return to the water, the Neraida made its public debut on a historic return visit to many of its traditional destinations during the summer of 2013. As part of its initial return trip, the ship visited many familiar waters, including the ports of Spetses, Hermione, Hydra and Poros. Since then it has gone on to wow its visitors in every corner of the vast Greek coastline, providing a perfectly reconstructed reminder of the country’s shipping past.

These trips continue today, and in one of its most popular events yet, the Neraida Floating Museum was berthed at the Flisvos Marina between 9 June to 31 July 2016, where locals were treated to an interactive education program that was aimed at addressing children aged between 6 and 12 years old. Entitled Traveling with Neraida, the programme was specifically designed to help introduce young visitors to the history of the iconic ship, while also providing a basic insight into the many aspects of the history of Greek shipping.

Spiro Latsis

The History of the Neraida

Built in 1939, the Neraida was originally used on coastal shipping routes in the Adriatic Sea, but she was also used as a rescue ship during World War II. After being captured by the British, she was used for the coastal service, travelling between Malta and Syracuse. Neraida made her historic entrance into the Latsis family ten years later and was restored ready to take on the Argosaronic Gulf line.

Over the next 25 years, the Neraida serviced a route which carried locals and tourists between some of the most popular local areas including Aegina, Methana, Poros and Hydra. After she was retired, Neraida remained ashore for 35 years. Despite being withdrawn from service, she was carefully looked after by John S. Latsis, who remained fond of the vessel that had helped him launch his business career.

The acquisition of the Neraida marked a turning point for John S. Latsis, who acquired more ships, expending into a significant fleet by the 1960’s. From there he diversified into construction and the oil industry, which prompted the establishment of a number of oil refineries, and finally he moved into the banking sector where he both purchased and established a number of banks to complete his empire. Upon John S. Latsis’ death in 2003, his business was transferred to his family (Henrietta, Marianna, Margarita Spiro Latsis) who took on all aspects of his business life including John S. Latsis’ beloved Neraida.

Converting History

Four years after the death of its owner, the Neraida was carefully transported to NCP Shipyards in Sibernik, Croatia, where she was respectfully converted into a floating museum. After her conversion, Neraida was returned to the Greek waters and was able to raise the Greek flag once more in the summer of 2013. Revitalised after its conversion, Neraida has become one of the few monuments to remember the golden years of coastal shipping in Greece. Presenting her own history, as well as the history of her owner, the ship provides a glimpse into the world of 20th Century shipbuilding, exploring everything from wartime missions to modern tourist trips. On her inaugural tour of her traditional destinations, she received thousands of locals and tourists, who were desperate to explore the past of this historic monument.

The interior of the ship has also been redesigned to educate visitors on both current and past exploits, with the vessel’s biggest attraction an exhibition on The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. Set up in 2005 in honour of John S. Latsis, the foundation aims to continue his legacy and fund a range of programmes across many fields, including education, science, health, social welfare, culture and the environment.

WWF GreenSpaces – New App Raises Awareness for Natural Urban Areas

The World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) GreenSpaces app is a Greek initiative focused on encouraging citizens to ‘reoccupy’ the nation’s greenspaces. In a month long campaign leading up World Environment Day on 5th June, Greek citizens were invited to participate by visiting and charting the nation’s city parks and other urban nature zones. The effort enjoyed an impressive kick-off with 400 volunteers in 82 Greek cities and towns weighing in on 720 green spaces during the first week. All participants were entered in a national drawing to win one of five bicycles provided by Praktiker stores.

Read on to learn more about this exciting project and answer these three questions.

Greece’s cities currently lack adequate greenspace

The GreenSpaces mobile app is a free tool provided by WWF Greece in conjunction with numerous organisations, including the Scouting Association of Greece, the British Council, and the Urban Environmental Workshop at the National Technical University of Athens among others. It is funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation supervised by Spiro Latsis, his mother Henrietta and his sisters Margarita and Marianna.

The app is aimed at increasing Greece’s city greenspaces which currently fall well below the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended 9 square metres per urban resident. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has calculated Athens’ total green space at .96 square metres per resident, while the Aristotelian University rates Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, only slightly better with 2.14 square metres per city inhabitant.

WWF Greenspaces is a versatile app

The GreenSpaces app offers a number of options for citizens who want to use and learn about greenspaces, as well as for those who want to participate in the campaign for environmental awareness in Greece. Users can locate a greenspace area near them, chart a new greenspace, or rate and comment on an existing entry. By monitoring the WWF data, municipal authorities can easily see how local citizens feel about the parks and other greenspaces in their area. The app helps to provide hard data for any campaign aimed at improving access to natural areas.

Spiro Latsis

How to use the WWF Greenspaces app in 6 easy steps

  1. Sign in – after downloading the app you will need to sign in. Choose either a shared sign-in with Facebook, or create an individual password and ID with GreenSpaces itself.
  2. Finding a greenspace – the app presents a map-like interface that allows you to zoom in on a specific area. Greenspaces that have been marked and evaluated by other users will display as locations on the map. Once you click on the icon, the app will display details about the area, including its location, pictures and rating. Clicking on the green walker icon will take you to Google maps where you can find exact directions for how to get to the park. Once you’ve visited, you can add your own comments and rating, so later users will have a more accurate idea of what this greenspace is really like.
  3. Searching based on your interests – if you want to find a specific type of greenspace, such as a park with benches, or a playground for children, you can run a search that includes these criteria. Click on search, enter the specific feature you are looking for, and GreenSpaces will pull up local parks that have what you are looking for based on data entered by other users. Like Google maps or TripAdvisor, GreenSpaces will list these locations based on their relevancy and their proximity.
  4. Calling attention to a greenspace – you can also choose to ‘Follow’ the location so you will get further updates about its status and comments from others who have visited. You can click on the sharing link to promote the site on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. If you feel like the information on Greenspaces is inaccurate, you can also click on report and fill out a form to draw attention to the issue.
  5. Registering a new greenspace – the campaign is underway, but there are still hundreds of greenspaces that have not yet been entered into the app. Adding a new greenspace can be accomplished with only a few clicks. The app will mark your location on the map. If you find yourself at a park or other natural area that isn’t marked, simply click on your location until the tree-shaped icon appears. The address will be entered automatically. You will need to upload at least three photos of the location by clicking on the camera icon. After adding photos, review all the park’s characteristics so that later searches will accurately identify its features. Finish by rating the quality of the greenspace based on size, amount of greenery, cleanliness and other factors. Once you hit submit, all the data you entered will be available for the next person running a search on GreenSpaces.
  6. Actively campaigning – GreenSpaces is a tool for citizens to make their voices heard. If you feel there is not enough energy being invested in creating local greenspaces, the app will help you make an effective case. You can create a social media group and share information and statistics from GreenSpaces’ to promote your cause. One citizen requesting a better local park isn’t likely to get much attention, but a whole group of concerned residents brought together through GreenSpaces can create the publicity needed to force action.

WWF GreenSpaces is focused on creating better urban landscapes one greenspace at a time. To learn more, or download the app go to greenspaces.gr.

500 Students Unite to Tackle Humanity’s Biggest Problems

At times, the future of mankind may seem uncertain. There is no shortage of issues which affect humanity, particularly when it comes to health and longevity. Through The Greek Student Parliament on Science, bright minds came together from across the world to explore some of these problems like chronic illness and improper nutrition. The Greek Student Parliament on Science provides a platform to promote science as a solution.

Supported by The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation (whose supervisory board consists of Henrietta, Marianna, Margarita and Spiro Latsis), this year’s event took place in March. You didn’t have to be a scientist to take part. The Greek Student Parliament on Science invited future problem solvers of all kinds to attend. Some of the brightest and most accomplished students from across Greece worked hard all year to create presentations to share at the parliament.

It is very possible that the next revolutionary idea may be created by one of these student participants. Every new technology and development begins as an idea and this student parliament featured some very bold ones:

1. The Story – History of the Greek Student Parliament

2. The Support – Parliament Support and Sponsorship

3. The Goal – Future Goals of Science

History of the Science Parliament

Though this scientific conference is still young, it is already expanding its influence. The European Student Parliament on Science was established in 2013. Since its inception, this organisation has encouraged all European nations to invite their students to take part in the parliament. The goal is to give students an opportunity to learn about parliamentary procedures while engaging in spirited debates about the current state of science.

On March 23, the 2015-2016 session of the Greek Student Parliament commenced. It united 500 high school students from across Greece in a live conference. Some students turned up in person while others joined in with a digital connection.

This parliamentary session was the first to feature students who joined in via the Internet from the Noesis – Thessaloniki Science Centre and Technology Museum.

The theme of the event was the Future of Humanity. Presentation topics included healthy nutrition, responsible reproduction and the human brain. All of the presentations were delivered with a focus on the nature of human health.

Students were allowed to conduct their own research into the topics under consideration. Assisted by experts, they were free to create their own hypotheses and pursue their own conclusions. They were then allowed to present their research and discoveries to the scientists in attendance. From these students, five representatives from Greece were selected to attend the European Student Parliament on Science.

Spiro Latsis

Support from the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation

The 2015-16 Greek Student Parliament on Science was sponsored in part by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. Founded in 2005 in honor of its namesake, this organisation is dedicated to humanitarian efforts and the promotion of a scientific spirit.

John S. Latsis was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who was committed to improving the lives of others in his home country of Greece. His early business activities includes forays into shipping, oil and financial industries. After experiencing great success in these fields, John pursued humanitarian efforts in Greece.

He created a scholarship fund to provide financial assistance to students from his home prefecture of Ileia. When earthquakes struck Greek cities in the 1980s and 1990s, John S. Latsis stepped up to provide emergency assistance in the form of donations. He continued to make donations to Greek firefighter and police organisations.

This legacy of charity has continued to this day. When John Latsis passed away in 2003, his family took over. The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation was established in 2005. The focus of this organisation is to promote and develop various causes in the fields of science, art and the humanities.

The organisation is maintained by John’s wife, Henrietta Latsis, and his children. Henrietta, Marianna, Margarita and Spiro Latsis serve as the board members of the foundation to ensure that it supports noteworthy causes. John Latsis’ family shares his passion for the pursuit of knowledge in all areas of life.

Building for the Future

By investing in the Greek Student Parliament on Science, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is making a big step forward for scientific progress. The Student Parliament helps to develop a sense of scientific curiosity in young people. This kind of work is invaluable because, in a few short years, this generation of young minds will become scientists, politicians and hardworking citizens. The future of mankind will be directed by the people who participate in the present.

Spiro Latsis - Ioannis Kapodistrias

John. S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation Seeks to Preserve the Legacy of Ioannis Kapodistrias

In March 2016, a 1 day seminar to launch the Ioannis Kapodistrias Digital Archive was held at the University of Athens Historical Archive. The conference, fully funded by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, sought to provide historians and observers with a digital archive of the life and work of Ioannis Kapodistrias, who was the first Governor of modern Greece and an important figure in Greek independence.

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation was established in 2005 to continue the legacy of John S. Latsis, a successful Greek businessman, and entrepreneur who had immense success in the shipping, oil, financial and credit industries. John S. Latsis was a benevolent man who supported the Greek community in times of turmoil and natural disaster. Upon his passing away in 2003, the Latsis family – his wife Henrietta and three children (Margarita, Marianna and Spiro Latsis) – established the Foundation with an aim of continuing the patriarch’s legacy and kindness. The Foundation has taken on many programmes since its inception, and funding the Ioannis Kapodistrias digital archive is part of its work in preserving Greek history and culture.

In an age where technological advancement is having a major impact in the field of humanities, the digital archive sets to overcome past challenges in collecting and storage of material regarding Ioannis Kapodistrias. As part of the collection, more than 13,000 documents, including images, photographs, personal items, and painting, from the General State Archives in Corfu were digitally copied and uploaded to the archive. Research and scholarship material was also included in the archive.

Spiro Latsis Kapodistrias

The life of I. Kapodistrias

Ioannis Kapodistrias was born in 1776 in Corfu, which is found in the Ionian Islands. At the time of his birth, the islands were under Venetian rule. His father’s family had migrated from the Gulf of Venice (Slovenia) and his mother’s side came from a noble family in Cyprus. They migrated to Corfu after Crete was invaded by the Ottomans.

When he was in his early 20s, Kapodistrias studied philosophy, medicine, and law, and in 1797, started working as a doctor in Corfu. When Russian and Turkish forces briefly invaded the island, Kapodistrias was made the chief medical director of the island’s military hospital. It was during this time that he also established a medical organisation. When the Ionian islands gained independence to become the “Septinsular Republic”, he was named one of the two ministers who ruled the islands. Soon, he was elected unanimously as the Chief Minister of State. In this position, he focused on education and helped organise the public sector, all while uniting the islands against foreign powers.

When the French regained power in 1807, the island republic was broken up. Kapodistrias had moved on to work for Alexander I of Russia, and in 1813, was named an unofficial Russian ambassador. His main task was to help Switzerland to free itself from French rule. He was successful in this task, and after seeing the country gain independence and neutrality, Alexander I made him a joint Foreign Minister of Russia.

Back home, the Ionian islands had been taken over by the British, and Kapodistrias worked on behalf of the islanders to gain freedom. He had little success in this, but much of his work was to come during the Greek War of Independence. When he failed to get the support of Alexander I in Greek independence matters, Kapodistrias took a leave of absence and moved to Geneva to support the Greek revolution.

It was while in Geneva that Kapodistrias learned that a newly-constituted Greek National Assembly had elected him as the head of state. He toured much of Europe to drum up support for independent Greece, and in January of 1828, he arrived in Aegina. What he found was a war-ravaged country that was bankrupt, in discord and dire need of proper systems of governance. Among his first acts as Governor was to sign the peace treaty that effectively ended the war and negotiate the country’s new borders.

A new Greece

As the country’s first head of state, Kapodistrias was focused in ushering reforms for his nation. He is credited with keeping diseases like typhoid, cholera, and fever under control by implementing a quarantine system; introducing Greek currency, implementing local administration; and establishing military accord. He is also recognised as being the leader who introduced potato cultivation in the country in an effort to improve nutrition and raise standards of living.

Kapodistrias’ work helped bring Greece into the modern era, and much has been told of his legacy. By funding a digital archive, the John. S. Latsis Foundation is aiming to ensure as much of his story is celebrated in the digital age.

Save

New Executive Board President Announced by Spiro Latsis at John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation announced this year that the new President of the Executive Board is Dr Peter Kalantzis, who took over from previous President Dr Peter Marxer on March 30th. Dr Marxer has served successfully for almost ten years up to the date of his resignation and was the first ever Executive Board President of the Foundation.

The Legacy of John S. Latsis

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation was established in 2005, two years after the death of John S. Latsis, as a way of preserving and continuing his vast public benefit works. John S. Latsis was born to a large, poor family in Katakolo in 1910, having to work hard from a very early age to help support the family. This early understanding of the value of hard work and support would stand him in good stead throughout his life, which was characterised by many successful entrepreneurial ventures and a generous philanthropic nature. His varied business activities included shipping, petroleum, construction, agricultural products, banking, trading and industrial goods amongst many. Married in 1940 to Henrietta Tsoukala, the couple had three children, Margarita, Marianna and Spiro Latsis.

Alongside his many business endeavours, John S Latsis was known throughout his life for his tireless philanthropic work in the fields of education, scientific research, social welfare and community and cultural initiatives. The provision of scholarships was important to John S. Latsis and one of his first ever charitable initiatives was the establishment of the John S. Latsis Ileians Scholarships Foundation, providing financial support for students from his home region. This was just the first of many Foundations and grants established during his life, with further contributions going towards emergency services and educational buildings throughout the country. John S. Latsis was also known for his extensive contributions at times of national emergency, such as the earthquakes throughout Greece during the eighties and nineties. The Latsis family created the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation in order to continue these good works in his name. The Foundation is run by a supervisory board of family members including son Spiro Latsis, daughters Marianna and Margarita, overseen by the President of the Executive Board.

New Executive Board President

Dr Peter Kalantzis

Dr Peter Kalantzis comes from a background of more than three decades in the Chemical industry, having worked in senior positions at the Swiss Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industry Association, the Alusuisse-Lonza Group Ltd, Lamda Development Ltd, Petrola Hellas Ltd and the University of Basel’s Society for the Promotion of Economic Research among others. Prior to embarking on his career, Peter attended the University of Basel, where he obtained both a postgraduate and doctoral degree in Economics. During this time he was also involved in numerous research projects through the university.

Dr Peter Kalantzis currently serves on a number of boards of directors as well as the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. These include the position of chairman for several Swiss companies including Degussa Goldhandel AG, Von Roll Holding Ltd and Clair AG, as well as board memberships at SGS Holding Ltd, CNH Industrial NV, Paneuropean Oil and Industrial Holdings and Moevenpick Holding Ltd.

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation plans, manages and provides funding for a broad range of programmes within Greece and in certain other areas of the world, with focus on science, education, health, the environment, social welfare and culture, continuing the legacy of its namesake. The grant-making approach of the Foundation prioritises emergency and disaster relief for citizens most in need, with further funding allocated in areas where it can create the greatest benefit for community development and NGO capacity building, infrastructural improvements, rewards for academic and research output and projects that are able to highlight Greek cultural wealth. This includes the Neraida Floating Museum, which works to highlight the maritime and entrepreneurial history of Greece, providing free access events and exhibits, attracting and familiarising young people with various maritime professions and promoting high levels of environmental awareness. The Foundation aims to remain aware of and responsive to current social needs and uses a complex evaluation system for all proposals received to ensure finding goes to those areas where it can have the greatest impact in sustainable, relevant and effective ways.