Prepare Yourself

The VELUX Foundations’ ‘Prepare Yourself’ project tests and develops initiatives in order to prevent social polarisation and mental vulnerability and problems among marginalised youth. Young people will be equipped with tools, which will enable them to take responsibility for their own well-being to a greater extent. The project will deal with empowerment, initiative, self-awareness and the realization of own qualities, boundaries and resources, all critical elements for enhancing opportunities and creating a better life. Participants will, among other things, be given guidance and assistance with respect to finding a place to live, applying for jobs, shopping for food and clothes as well as support in solving personal problems such as low self-esteem, anxiety, minor eating disorders, sorrow or family conflicts.

Better Integration through Education

In 2009, the Finnish Cultural Foundation commissioned an independent enquiry into the state of language teaching for immigrants. The report revealed a number of shortcomings in the existing system.

The ensuing plan for the improvement of integration training was implemented in a large pilot project covering the entire country from 2010 to 2013. The cost, around €9m, was covered by two foundations and three ministries together. The project was meant to provide a basis for remodelling all public integration education in Finland.

Perhaps naively, the Finnish Cultural Foundation believed that the promised remodelling would take place without any further encouragement. In autumn 2015, when the number of immigrants surged, it turned out that very little had actually happened. In 2016, the plans are finally being put into use.

The foundation has also supported a highly efficient network of women volunteers offering tuition in literacy and Finnish to immigrant women.

More Knowledge, Less Fear

The online resource centre,, has been developed by the Stefan Batory Foundation in partnership with the Chlebem i Solą Initiative within the Citizens for Democracy Programme, financed by EEA Grants.

The resource centre was launched as an answer to misconceptions about the migration crisis in Europe, xenophobic fears and negative stereotypes about people from different ethnic backgrounds. The centre serves three purposes: to provide information about refugees; to dismantle myths and stereotypes about them; and to inform visitors about initiatives regarding refugees (such as fundraisers or cultural initiatives) and possible ways to get involved.

Build the City

The ‘Build the City’ publication highlights how people are changing their cities. The European Cultural Foundation is supporting citizens and governments who are collaborating in solving urban challenges. They are changing cities and legislation through co-design practices. Culture is a key factor in these processes by motivating people and encouraging equality which is essential in increasingly diverse communities.

A network of co-designers was established to improve urban co-governance and reinforce the need to include culture and citizen participation in the EU Urban Agenda. The evidence shows that these practices positively impact on urban sustainability such as creating affordable housing, highlighting air quality issues and renewing public creative areas. The European Cultural Foundation, alongside communities, will continue to work for co-governed cities to increase cultural, diverse and flexible social living spaces.

Estonian Voice in the Refugee Crisis

The migrant crisis in Europe is already a highly debated issue, but the Open Estonia Foundation, a group of Estonian politicians and other experts realised that what was missing in the debate was the wider context. Moreover, the lack of such context – and dialogue – with views from different levels of society, had left a vacuum for populism and fear-mongering. The Open Estonia Foundation joined a pan-European initiative called U-Impact and organised a lively debate to discuss the European refugee crisis, its possible scenarios and how citizens could voice their opinions in finding solutions.

The event was broadcast live in Estonia and abroad, with many international NGOs calling in to the meeting to share their experiences and opinions working on the crisis.

Roma Partnership Reinvented


Wood, copper, leather, glass: these materials are all part of the new design-collection PICNIC by Meşteshukar ButiQ (MBQ), part of a Bucharest-based network of social enterprises that re-interprets traditional Roma crafts. Each of the materials stands for a different kind of traditional Roma craftsmanship and each item was produced in a different part of Romania. This PICNIC set is the tangible result of what the ERSTE Foundation Roma Partnership has been trying to achieve: to support the development of social entrepreneurship and foster income generation activities as well as educational programmes for job creation at community level. The designs were developed in cooperation with two Austrian designers Nadja Zerunian and Peter Weisz (zerunianandweisz).

Since the founding of Meşteshukar ButiQ in 2012, it has continuously strived to bring a new vision to Roma craftsmanship and has succeeded in launching traditional products under a new design. The MBQ concept store located in the centre of Bucharest displays jewellery, objects for home decoration and fashion.

The ERSTE Foundation Roma Partnership is an informal alliance of committed organisations that aims to sustainably improve the lives of Roma in Central and South Eastern Europe. It was created to enable and reinforce long-term collaboration between Roma and non-Roma.

Breakthrough Generation

Mozaik’s 2015-2025 strategy aims to develop a breakthrough generation of entrepreneurial and innovative youth. The goal is to generate a value-driven force that creates new social and economic value, creates new jobs, develops successful social businesses and serves as role models to other youth. This is achieved through tailor-made support in a virtual social business incubator and a well-developed pipeline where young people implement socially innovative projects. Within 10 years there will be 50,000 people in the pipeline, 1,000 socially innovative projects supported and 500 newly registered social businesses.

Community Schools Model

In 2016, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation awarded a grant to support the expansion of a community school model to all 11 public schools in their hometown of Flint, Michigan. In addition to helping students meet academic goals, the model also aims to strengthen the connection between schools, families and local residents.

The new model brings together a variety of resources for children and families, depending on the needs of each school and its surrounding neighborhood. It provides students with strong, research-based educational and enrichment opportunities, along with nutritional support, physical activity, mindfulness exercises and more. Such activities and services will allow the schools to become the best place for community members to access a wide range of services.

Flint has long been known for its leadership in the community school movement. In 1935, C.S. Mott and Flint educator Frank J. Manley launched a “lighted schoolhouse” model, which made use of school buildings during non-school hours to provide educational and recreational programs for students, families and neighborhood residents.

By supporting this initiative, the Mott Foundation is proud to help its home community create a reimagined, 21st century model of community education that meets the needs of today’s families.

Funding Girls’ Organising

Mama Cash has in recent years actively sought to support girls who take matters into their own hands.

In August 2015, Mama Cash, FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund and MEMPROW brought together 30 emissaries from African girls’ rights initiatives. They emphasised the importance of keeping in mind that girls need trust and support to develop their own activism. The reality is that many girls grow up in an unsafe environment. That is why it is critical to ensure that they become as resilient as possible and have a place where they can meet each other and collaborate.

Mama Cash funds groups run with and by girls around the world and is part of the With and For Girls Collective. This funder’s collective is investing $1m each year in awards to grass-roots organisations that are successfully working on girls’ rights.

Challenging Chances – Escape in Pictures

The subject of refugees is still ongoing. It is no longer an abstract phenomenon; now these very real people made out of flesh and blood are living among us in our neighbourhoods. We can now make our own picture from these people who have sought refuge in our country.

The exhibition pictures show us their story right from the start of their escape up until their arrival in Germany. Enthusiastic and sensitive photographers have accompanied them in their search for a better life.

Following the arrival to safety, a long challenging process begins in the host countries. Here in Germany, as in every other host country, we are confronted with a lot of work for the whole society. The integration of refugees through education and work, and maintaining united local communities are some examples of issues faced.

It is necessary to carry on welcoming and accepting immigrants as we have done before. Keeping this issue high on the agenda is important, as well as continuing the prevention of prejudice against refugees.

The Bertelsmann Stiftung together with the photo agency laif from Cologne have made this project possible.