Press Release

"We Must Keep Examining Ourselves If We Want to Be Truly Effective"

  • Robert Bosch Stiftung looks back on successful 2018
  • 153 million euros spent on funding charitable causes

Berlin, 31 January 2019. The rapid and often drastic changes in society also present new challenges to Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH. Based on its intention to remain effective as a major European foundation also in times of technological change and increasing social tensions, the Foundation continued to develop its activities last year and, in some cases, fundamentally questioned its work.

“Tensions have increased in many areas of society: between urban and rural areas, young and old, people with and without a migrant background,” commented Prof. Dr. Joachim Rogall, President and CEO of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. “For us to live up to our desired level of effectiveness, we have to examine periodically in which areas we can make a difference, what is necessary to do so, and where we need to position ourselves more strongly. We are planning to continue working on these issues in the coming year, together with our partners from civil society, politics, and academia.”

On the occasion of the New Year's reception of the Robert Bosch Stiftung in Berlin, the Foundation’s Board of Management looked back on a successful year of activities in 2018. Last year, Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH spent a total of around 153 million euros (preliminary figure) on charitable causes.

Making a difference for better health care
A key concern of the Robert Bosch Stiftung in the support area Health is to ensure the availability of good care to the growing number of patients with chronic illnesses and multiple morbidities. This is why, in October 2018, the Foundation launched a new initiative, “Neustart! Reformwerkstatt für unser Gesundheitswesen” (Restart: A Health Care Reform Workshop). In the coming years, this initiative aims to bring together the ideas of citizens and experts via dialogue-based events, health policy panels, and a series of Think Labs, and initiate an open debate about necessary improvements to the health care system. The goal is to provide fresh impetus for a comprehensive health care reform before the 2021 German federal election.

Back in spring 2018, the Foundation published a manifesto, “Mit Eliten pflegen” (Elite Care). These demands developed by a panel of 40 experts show how care needs to develop considering the nursing crisis and what conditions are necessary to achieve improvements. Prior to the publication of the manifesto, the experts had spent more than two years working at the invitation of the Foundation in a practical project entitled “360° Pflege – Qualifikationsmix für den Patienten” (360° Nursing Care. Qualification Mix for the Patient) to develop strategies to improve the collaboration of nursing professionals with different qualifications in a team and to make nursing more attractive through new career opportunities.

Expanding medical research
In 2018, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg joined forces to create the first university chair of natural and integrative medicine in Baden-Wuerttemberg. The new chair at the University of Tubingen will be located at the Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart, which offers ideal conditions thanks to its Robert Bosch Center for Tumor Diseases (RBCT), founded in 2016, and the Clinical Department of Naturopathy and Integrative Medicine, established in 2015. The aim of the new chair is to develop targeted therapies based on both orthodox and complementary medicine, in particular for tumor patients.

Making science accessible to everybody
In the support area Science, the Foundation is committed to bringing down the walls between science and the general public. To this end, in 2018, it created an international platform for the exchange of successful science communication projects together with the Falling Walls Foundation. The new format, “Falling Walls Engage”, aims to raise the public profile of successful communication projects and encourage others to imitate these best practices. Even in the first round, 60 projects from 20 countries applied for the title of “Science Engagement of the Year”.

The Robert Bosch Stiftung supports further projects with the goal of inspiring people to take an interest in science, especially those who have had little or no previous exposure to science. Together with Documentary Campus e.V., the Foundation initiated the first multi-day public festival in Germany to bring science and the media from Germany and abroad into contact with the general public to discuss current scientific topics. The first Silbersalz Festival in Halle (Saale), Germany, attracted some 6,000 visitors in summer 2018; the second event is planned for June 20 through 23, 2019.

Learning from educational practice
Good schools are a vital factor in preparing young people for an increasingly complex world. Last May, a special online platform for schools, the Deutsches Schulportal (German School Portal) was launched. Complementing the offer package of the German School Award, it provides up-to-date information and articles on schools and education, educational policy and science. The main content of the online portal, however, is the innovative pedagogical concepts of the schools that have won the German School Award in the years since 2006. These hands-on concepts are examined and processed by the German School Academy and ultimately made available to all schools via training courses, publications, and the German School Portal. A cycle in which best educational practices are strengthened and shared.

Proven concepts that help institutions systematically develop their organization hardly exist in the early childhood sector – despite the fact that the massive expansion of childcare facilities, a nationwide shortage of staff, and increased educational demands pose major challenges for daycare facilities. With the support of the Foundation, scientists from the Universities of Heidelberg and Hildesheim have spent more than two years examining best practice examples and have presented them in a handbook, “Organisationsentwicklung in Kitas – Beispiele gelungener Praxis” (Organizational Development in Daycare Centers. Best Practice Examples). The volume, published in May 2018, is the first of its kind to provide experts and managers of daycare facilities with specific approaches for the further development of their own institutions.

Teaching politics and culture
Xenophobia and anti-democratic sentiments are a growing problem, also in many schools. A model project, carried out in cooperation with Saxony’s Department of Education, shows how teachers can respond appropriately to such incidents. Over a period of three years, the “Starke Lehrer – starke Schüler” (Strong Teachers – Strong Students) project prepared teachers at vocational schools for handling such situations. Following the completion of the pilot phase in late 2018, other schools are now benefiting from the findings: In Saxony, the project offering is now being transferred to the general school system. The Robert Bosch Stiftung is transferring the findings to other German states with the support of a partner, the Federal Agency for Civic Education. The project is due to start in Lower Saxony in early 2019.

In addition to strengthening civic education, the Robert Bosch Stiftung is increasingly committed to the cause of social cohesion. To this end, the Foundation supports children and adolescents in their personal development and promotes their self-efficacy, with language playing a central role. Last year, the Foundation initiated the “Weltenschreiber” (Writers of Worlds) program, a large-scale literature education program for young people that has since launched in several German states. Key components of the program include writing workshops with well-known authors, which take place during regular German lessons at school, and an 18-month advanced training course for teachers on literary writing. The program is supported by other foundations and partners, including the Departments of Education in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and Lower Saxony. In addition, a collaboration with the Goethe-Institut enables German schools abroad in ten other countries to participate in the program.

Strengthening the role of civil society in integration and migration
Integration is more than just providing emergency aid, access to work, or language classes. Refugees and migrants also want to participate in politics and society in their new home country. This is a finding of the study, “Political Participation of Refugees: Bridging the Gaps,” published by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in May 2018. For the study, researchers interviewed over 600 refugees in eight host countries. In mid-October, the Foundation held a conference with lawmakers and immigrants at its representative office in Berlin to discuss how political participation could be improved.

Already in March 2018, 150 representatives of civil society met there at the Foundation's invitation to contribute their input to the preparations for the UN’s Global Compact for Migration. Under the motto #FairCompacts, migrant self-organizations, refugee initiatives, foundations, trade unions, and research institutes discussed drafts for a United Nations Compact on Migration and Refugees with representatives of the German government. The results were then presented to the German ambassador to the United Nations in New York, who introduced them into the ongoing negotiations.

Discussing impacts of technological change
The impacts of technological change on politics and society were the focus of this year's Richard von Weizsäcker Forum, which brought together the Richard von Weizsäcker Fellows of the Robert Bosch Academy in Germany in October 2018. With its Academy, the Foundation has created a multilateral and interdisciplinary community over the past few years: To date, more than 60 renowned decision-makers and opinion leaders from 36 countries have come to work and stay at the Academy and participated in social life and the political dialogue in Germany, ranging from ministers, policy advisors, health and sustainability experts to journalists and theater directors. To mark its fifth anniversary in 2019, the Robert Bosch Academy is expecting to welcome 15 new Fellows to Berlin who will work on current global issues.

Advancing international work
Due to the significantly changing international context, the Robert Bosch Stiftung decided last year to fundamentally review its programs, to strategically realign its work, and to focus. Coinciding with ongoing project work and based on comprehensive analyses, the Foundation has begun to develop potential new focus areas for its work in international relations. The Foundation's Board of Trustees will decide on these in the summer of 2019.

In preparing for the transition, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has decided to end its existing projects and programs in the field of International Relations. This process will be conducted in a responsible way and in compliance with all contractual obligations. The Foundation is currently in talks with its partners to ensure that joint achievements are safeguarded.

Despite these strategic realignment activities, the Foundation successfully continued its previous projects in the area of International Relations in 2018.

Fostering understanding in difficult times
At its “Medienforum China – Deutschland – USA” (Media Forum China – Germany – USA) in May 2018, the Foundation brought together editors-in-chief and leading media representatives from China, Germany, and the USA in California to discuss challenges that affect the three countries in similar ways and yet are perceived completely differently. In addition to current topics such as North Korea and the risks of a trade war, this year's forum focused on digitization and the next technological revolutions.

Promoting a change of perspective is also the Foundation’s intention with the new Thomas Mann Fellowship. Launched in 2018, it supports the residence program at the Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles, which is aimed at intellectuals and thinkers from all areas of German society. The fellowship aims to stimulate debate on today's major issues on both sides of the Atlantic.

Giving life to the European idea
Given the increasing influence of nationalist parties in Europe, the Robert Bosch Stiftung became increasingly involved in promoting the European idea last year. The “The Ball” project, for example, built on the unifying power of soccer to recall shared European values and ideals. With the Foundation's support, a team of coaches and educators toured a total of 18 countries for three months last year: from the UK to Germany, through the Balkans to Asia, and on to the opening ceremony of the Soccer World Cup in Russia. All in all, “The Ball” traveled some 20,000 kilometers, visiting small and large soccer clubs, schools, and educational initiatives.

In order to promote active European citizenship, the Foundation has set up the “Education on Europe” project. Targeted at European civics educators, it aims to offer new approaches for facilitating access to European politics and getting more young people involved in debates on a European level.

Shining a light on Africa’s potential
The Robert Bosch Stiftung has been active in Africa since 2004, initially in North Africa, and since 2009 also in sub-Saharan Africa. The Foundation's work on the continent focuses primarily on science, education, and international relations. A particular milestone is the Next Einstein Forum, the largest African science conference to date, which in March 2018 brought together more than 1,500 researchers, politicians, and academics from all around the world in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. The aim of the joint initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and the Robert Bosch Stiftung was to create greater visibility for top African researchers and strengthen Africa as a science location.

Since last year, the Foundation has also been supporting young African talent in filmmaking. Together with Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Film Academy, it has launched several initiatives for East African filmmakers. The program offers various workshops as well as a scholarship that enables young directors from East Africa to visit the Film Academy in Ludwigsburg.

With its Education Sub Saharan Africa (ESSA) program, the Robert Bosch Stiftung supports the development of the education sector in sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative aims to improve the standard of education in the region, help players in the education sector connect with one another, and provide better access to knowledge about education in Africa, especially to demonstrably effective initiatives.

In other news from the Robert Bosch Stiftung
Uta-Micaela Dürig (54), who has been with Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH since October 1, 2014, and a member of the Board of Management since July 1, 2015, will leave the Board at her own request and for personal reasons with effect from January 31, 2019, to devote herself to new endeavors outside of the Foundation. Ms. Dürig was instrumental in preparing and helping to oversee the strategic further development process that began in mid-2015. Prior to her assignments at the Foundation, she worked for various companies, most recently for Robert Bosch GmbH since January 2004.

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