Five years of the “Auf Augenhöhe” Fund

In the summer of 2021, the “Auf Augenhöhe” (“At Eye-Level”) Fund for strengthening civic engagement for refugees and newcomers in Germany will be five years old. It was launched in 2016 with a starting contribution of 500,000 euros as a joint initiative of the Software AG Foundation (SAGST), GLS Treuhand and the Alliance of Community Foundations in Germany. Thanks to donations from additional supporters and SAGST topping up the fund with 300,000 euros in 2019, a total of over 180 projects have so far been funded quickly and non-bureaucratically, each receiving up to 5,000 euros – all without any tight deadlines, strict funding criteria and complicated application procedures.

SAGST project manager Andreas Rebmann highlights: “Together with around 150 partners, it has thus been possible to create very different refugee facilities where social cohesion can grow and encounters can take place at eye level.”

Community foundations with a quality seal, those eligible for a quality seal, and, since 2020, the Houses of Resources (HoR) all played a key role in the various formats for successful coexistence, ranging from culinary and athletic experiences to theatre projects, mentoring programmes and training concepts. As experts on local needs, these foundations can submit applications for their own projects or apply on behalf of local initiatives whose ideas and projects they would like to support.  

“We are incredibly grateful for this experience as well as the trust-based collaboration”, explains Andreas Rebmann, who has accompanied the “Auf Augenhöhe” Fund from the beginning. “Both the community foundations and the HoRs are our connection to the local level and important seismographs with their finger on the pulse of the current situation of refugees and newcomers in Germany.”

Rebmann continues by stating that discussions with these intermediary organisations, the fund’s expert advisory board and the Alliance of Community Foundations in Germany has made it clear that the fund has not lost any of its relevance even five years after the height of the refugee crisis. As before, and especially considering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the fund has proven to be of indispensable value for the realisation of micro-projects to tackle one of the greatest social challenges of our time thanks to its uncomplicated structure, according to the solidarity scene.  

In this context, SAGST has decided to continue financing the “Auf Augenhöhe” Fund until 2023 and to endow it with a total of another half a million euros spread over the coming years. Board member Peter Augustin explains: “This decision was made long before the dramatic situation in the Hindu Kush put the issue back on the media agenda. For us as a foundation, this is not only about providing aid in exceptional situations. That would be a completely erroneous understanding of migration. Arriving is a long-term process in which moments of appreciative encounters are needed again and again.”

For this reason, the foundation would like to continue to allow applicants to submit follow-up applications; however, it will prioritise applications for new projects and first-time applicants. Applicants can request 3,000 to 5,000 euros, depending on their funding needs. In the case of a follow-up application for a previous project, the funding amount is limited to a maximum of 3,000 euros.

The “Auf Augenhöhe” (“At Eye Level”) Fund was launched at the end of summer 2016 by the Software AG Foundation at the height of the refugee crisis to support civic engagement for refugees and newcomers in the most uncomplicated and non-bureaucratic way possible in cooperation with partners. Since then, the initiative for more diversity, respect and coexistence, which deliberately dispenses with strict funding criteria and a complex application process, has continued to develop. After a pilot phase with selected community foundations with a quality seal, it now also works with institutions eligible for a quality seal and has gained a total of 12 Houses of Resources as cooperation partners. Together with GLS Treuhand, which took over the complete application management for the foundation from the beginning, as well as the Alliance of Community Foundations in Germany, which closely accompanies the fund, it now wants to work hard to use the proven format to increase cohesion in our society by 2023.

For more information about the fund, an overview of projects that have already received funding and details on the application process, please visit www.fonds-auf-augenhoehe.de.

Press Contact:

Christine Hueß
Head of Communications at Software AG Foundation
E-mail: c.huess(at)sagst.de
Telephone: +49 6151 91665-145