The Robert Bosch Stiftung

Bosch Fellows 1
Photo: Sabine Braun 
Members from the 32nd year of the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program visit the Robert Bosch Stiftung in autumn 2015. Since its inception, over 500 Bosch Fellows have participated in the program, spending eight months in Germany working in business, politics, media, and other social institutions.

The Bosch Fellows

For more than thirty years, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has brought the Bosch Fellows to Germany – young, future American leaders who are invited by the Foundation to spend eight months working in business, politics, media, and other social institutions. In contrast to an exchange program, here everything is focused on the time during which the highly-qualified Americans become extremely well acquainted with Germany and Europe. As a result of this experience, they become ambassadors for Germany. A total of five hundred fellows have already participated in the program. In the meantime, many of them have climbed the career ladder back in their hometowns and now hold influential positions. Together they form a network of people who are both familiar with and friends of Germany, and who could not be more valuable to German-American relations.

The Foundation launched the "Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program" in 1984. In light of increasing anti-American sentiment in Germany – triggered by the NATO Double-Track decision – the Foundation decided to promote the exchange of ideas and opinions with Americans and help once again improve and strengthen transatlantic relations. In this process, the Bosch fellowship program proved to be the perfect solution.

Long-term professional and personal value

In terms of its scope and range of its content, the fellowship program remains entirely unique in the United States and Germany today. Each year’s fellows dive deep in the German working world and German life, becoming acquainted with the country through the positions they hold in their respective occupational fields and by participating in intensive training seminars over the course of several weeks. They establish professional contacts in their field and retain these contacts when they return to the US. As a result, the program strongly ties the participants to the country. Many of the former participants not only describe their time in Germany as life-changing, but the program has a pronounced long-term effect, with participants primarily taking on positions in which they regularly collaborate with Germany.


Influential positions in the transatlantic relationship

Since its inception, more than thirty years of Bosch Fellows have spent time working and training in Germany as part of the program. Many of them today hold influential positions in American business and society, and form a growing network of transatlantic relationships. As such, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has created an internationally-renowned brand. Figures such as White House Chief-of-Staff Denis McDonough or Cladia Abendroth, Director of Strategy and Planning in the US State Department, as well as high-ranking managers, professors, attorneys, and media representatives, help ensure that German-American relations are shaped by people who have first-hand knowledge of the country.

Ideas from a strong alumni network

The Robert Bosch Foundation Alumni Association plays a key role in keeping the network lively after the participants return to the United States. Founded by Bosch Fellows from the first year of the program, the alumni association RBFAA now includes over five hundred key proponents of the German-American friendship. Members organize regional events and annual get-togethers and also hold panel discussions on transatlantic issues. In addition, they generate suggestions for ways to improve the fellowship program.

In addition to the fellowship program, the Foundation has also developed further German-American initiatives. For example, the Congress-Bundestag Forum, a joint project carried out by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Robert Bosch Stiftung, sees members of the German Bundestag and the American Congress discuss current issues in order to further enhance transatlantic dialog.


Projects in the field of international relations

The Fellowship Program for Young American Leaders is one of the Foundation's projects in the field of international relations.