Better together – how the Federal Foreign Office and foundations collaborate

Joint Projects as Lernort Stadion: the Federal Foreign Office and foundations collaborate

Joint Projects as “Lernort Stadion”: the Federal Foreign Office and foundations collaborate, © Thorsten Wagner

01.11.2019 - Article

The Strategic Dialogue brings private-sector foundations and the Federal Foreign Office together. Civil society and the state meet each other as equal partners, discuss topics of relevance to the future and carry out joint Projects.

Where is the best place to discuss racism in soccer with young people? In a soccer stadium! In the Kick for Europe project run by the non‑profit organisation Lernort Stadion e.V., sport and civic education enjoy a level playing field. Teenagers from Germany meet young people of the same age from Austria, Poland, Spain and the UK. During three sessions in September and October, the participants explored the future of Europe, German-Polish relations and marginalisation in soccer. And naturally, they also played soccer together!

Cooperation between the political sphere and civil society

Kick for Europe is funded by the Federal Foreign Office in cooperation with the Allianz Cultural Foundation, the TUI Foundation and the Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe. The joint project came about as a result of the Strategic Dialogue between private-sector foundations and the Federal Foreign Office. The aim of this new form of collaboration between the ministry and civil-society actors is to create synergy and to carry out joint projects.

Andreas Görgen, Director-General for Culture and Communication at the Federal Foreign Office, commented as follows:

By working with civil-society actors, not only does foreign policy become more inclusive, we are also able to look beyond our own fields of work and, most importantly, to achieve concrete results. With mutual respect for each side’s different responsibilities and role, we can thus work on joint fields of action and even define joint projects.

A foreign policy of societies

Project Lernort Stadion
Project “Lernort Stadion© Thorsten Wagner

The idea behind the Federal Foreign Office’s Strategic Dialogue with foundations is to move from a foreign policy of nations to a foreign policy of societies. The Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Siemens Stiftung, the Volkswagen Foundation and the Association of German Foundations are part of the dialogue. They liaise with Federal Foreign Office staff in working groups, where they address topics such as contacts with alumni, migration, and the geographical priority areas of Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The networking initiative has also led to joint visits, for example to Algeria and Tunisia, as well as to discussions on political strategies including the Federal Government Policy Guidelines for Africa, conferences on topics such as EU migration policy, and staff exchanges between the Federal Foreign Office and the foundations. The dialogue was set up as a result of the Foreign Policy of Societies conference in the autumn of 2015.

Foundations’ impact abroad

Just under ten percent of German foundations, that is, 2200 organisations, are active abroad. For example, they work internationally in the field of education on sustainable development. And by funding culture, they create new employment potential and prospects for the future in conflict-ridden countries. Better together – the Strategic Dialogue’s role as an interface creates potential for greater achievements in the collaboration between the Federal Foreign Office and foundations.

Contact Information:


The Federal Government’s 2018 Report on Cultural Relations and Education Policy contains further information about cultural relations and education policy and collaboration with civil society. Please note that this publication is only available in German.

Foundation Report: Development Cooperation: How Foundations Work on a Global Level (The German publication and an English summary are available free of charge.)


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