In 2018, the Schwarzkopf Foundation published its first multiannual strategy paper, reflecting its charter and programmatic work across European borders, current challenges for young people and aggregating strategic goals for its civic education work in the years to come: 1. Foster active democratic citizenship 2. Set a focus on Outreach & Inclusion in our activities and networks 3. Strengthen a European Perspective.
This document is the result of a participatory process towards a diversity-oriented organisation development within the Schwarzkopf Foundation. It reflects our responsibility to translate the Foundation’s strategy and our pro-pluralist and anti-discriminatory stance into a coherent and accountable mission statement. Diversity orientation is understood as an interdisciplinary effort affecting all staff and all working areas and is guided by the question: How can difference become a source of learning and strength rather than of conflict and prejudice?
The Schwarzkopf Foundation’s vision is a Europe* of openness, solidarity and democracy** and an inclusive, open-minded, pluralistic European civil society shaped by young people***.
The foundation firmly believes that youth’s voices help develop European cohesion, and that young people play a crucial role in shaping European societies. From an early stage, we create spaces and opportunities for young people to develop political awareness and a vision for the society that they want to live in. Such a vision takes courage, because change can only be initiated through commitment and by shared values. The values of the Schwarzkopf Foundation are established in this vision – open-mindedness, inclusion, pluralism, democracy and solidarity.
*When speaking of Europe, the Schwarzkopf Foundation does not limit itself to the existing institutional setting of the European Union. Rather, the foundation refers to the framework, values and vision of the European Convention of Human Rights by the Council of Europe and its 47 member states, whose stated aim is to uphold human rights, democracy and rule of law in Europe.
**In our vision, a democratic society aims for diversity, equity and inclusion. It embraces radical diversity, which aims at making diversity mainstream. For citizens to become active members of a European society, we believe it is important to develop competences to consider others’ viewpoints, engage in critical, yet respectful dialogue and embrace ambiguity.
***We particularly refer to young people between the ages of 14-29, regardless of nationality, race, gender identity, sexuality, religion, socio-economic or educational background or any other status, including people from LGBTIQ+ communities, Jewish people, Sinti*ze and Rom*nja, Muslim people, BIPoC (Black and Indigenous People, People of Color), people disabled by the environment or people with stories of flight and migration.
The Foundation works continuously to address these challenges in its activities.
The main objectives of the foundation are:
The Schwarzkopf Foundation strives to strengthen young people from all backgrounds to be active European citizens who, through engagement and the sharing of opinions, contribute to a pluralistic, democratic society of mutual understanding, solidarity and peaceful collaboration in Europe.
We offer young Europeans opportunities for encounters, for knowledge exchange and personal development and for active participation. We promote the development of young people into politically aware and responsible individuals. We strengthen young and marginalized voices in European societies and draw attention to the interests and challenges of European youth. In order to achieve these objectives, the foundation works in different programme lines:
We address young people from all over Europe, regardless of nationality, race, gender identity, sexuality, religion, socio-economic or educational background or any other status, including people from LGBTIQ+ communities, Jewish people, Sinti*ze and Rom*nja, Muslim people, BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), people disabled by the environment or people with stories of flight and migration.
They shape the foundation’s programmes as participants, peers and multipliers.
The Schwarzkopf Foundation is guided by the values set out in the vision – open-mindedness, pluralism, democracy and solidarity. These values also shape the way the foundation’s organisation, programmes and projects are managed. Living up to our values means:
The foundation fosters open and close dialogue with young people across Europe. Its work is based on the issues and questions most relevant to our target group. A continuous involvement of young voices is ensured through youth councils in our different networks. This serves as a formalized and institutionalized mechanism to include young people’s perspectives and feedback into the foundation’s work, educational approaches and formats. We are aware that not all young people have equal chances and opportunities of being heard and seen and are working towards breaking down these barriers.
To give all young people the opportunities to experience and help actively shape Europe without barriers, we aim to enhance the participation of people:
The foundation supports personal development by providing challenging opportunities and support. Through their participation, young Europeans gain valuable competences, understanding and knowledge as well as the confidence to have an impact on society.
The foundation provides a learning environment and promotes transcultural dialogue in which multiple perspectives are represented, and where understanding, controversy and ambiguity are valued as well as practiced as part of the acceptance of pluralism. The foundation also opens spaces in which new, positive references to one’s own cultures, languages and tradition can be created. At the same time, the acceptance of pluralism also means that discriminatory practices need to be named, addressed, and challenged.
To reach out to and empower young people across Europe, we work closely with different stakeholders and decision-makers such as schools, universities, activists, civil society actors, politicians, media, as well as other foundations. The foundation also collaborates with various multipliers in civic education, in the private sector, in youth work and youth welfare.
We work with organizations that share our values and are alliance partners in our work for a just, pluralistic and antiracist society in Europe. We creaete spaces for marginalized voices to be heard in a dominantly white discourse. In the next years, we want to become better allies and invest more ressources in empowerment work and cooperations towards organizations and groups that don’t enjoy the same social capital and networks yet. The key alliance partners are those who work on a positive self-reference of discriminated and marginalised groups, such as migrant self-organisations or people affected by discrimination.
We invite decisionmakers to discuss current topics with young people from all over Europe. Additionally, we work with holocaust survivors who share their experiences with a younger generation and thus keep remembrance culture alive.
However, the largest and most important network is formed by the young people themselves. In our youth networks European Youth Parliament, Young Islam Conference & Understanding Europe, young people from various backgrounds set the tone for our work.
Our programmes and activities are guided by their potential for impact. We plan and implement them with the aim of achieving clearly defined outcomes for our target groups and positive change for society at large. Whenever possible, we strive to analyse our outcomes and impact. This helps us to continuously become better at what we do and to transparently communicate to our participants and partners.
The foundation is a learning organization, adapting to (changing) political realities and developments. Staying informed on current matters is therefore central to the foundation’s work. Connecting to current debates, the foundation and its youth networks can get involved meaningfully and responsibly in political discourses and decision-making processes. Internally, the foundation routinely evaluates its work and processes and continuously learns and adapts, formalising strategies to streamline our approach and put learnings into practice.
The foundation is working on becoming an inclusive workplace that removes barriers and reflects societal diversity and differing life situations and lifestyles. The organization values individuals with diverse and differing experiences, skills, talents, priorities, values, views, and ways of life and aims to ensure that every employee has the potential to participate fully in the organization & every individuals needs are met wherever possible.