Joachim Herz Foundation Education in Focus
The economy, science and strong personalities are key drivers of innovation within society – and we enable people to harness their potential in these areas. We invest in education because it provides the foundation for actively participating in and shaping society. Our concept of education implies personal responsibility and initiative, the ability to reflect on your actions, motivation, independent thought and action and acceptance of others.
The Joachim Herz Foundation in Hamburg, Germany, promotes education, science, and research in economics and the natural sciences as well as the personal development of teens and young adults. In these areas we also fund small, innovative third-party projects.
Additional funding is granted to support research projects in the fields of medicine, law and engineering technology as well as projects promoting the exchange between Germany and the United States. The Joachim Herz Foundation was founded in 2008 after the death of German entrepreneur Joachim Herz. It is one of the largest private foundations in Germany.
Paving the Way
Paving the way: We support young people advancing their personal and professional skills, enabling them to contribute to a productive and tolerant society. We aim to promote their individual educational and professional development, irrespective of background and social status.
Spheres of activity: Local, regional, national, and international projects embody our commitment to promote education, science, and research. These projects are characterized by the critical questioning of facts as well as acceptance of other cultures, other ways of thinking, and other ways of working.
Education as a shared responsibility: We see education as the responsibility of society as a whole and develop projects designed for use both inside and outside schools, for colleges, and for non-university talent development. The networking and further training of those involved in education is key to shaping educational transitions and careers in a positive manner.
Outstanding teaching methods: Our work relies on the expertise of scientists and practitioners. We develop our materials and methods in accordance with our status as an independent and politically neutral foundation.
Broad access: In order to support young people, we provide them with personalized advice and tailored assistance. We connect with them via practically relevant and digital access points to education.These access points reflect young people’s real-life circumstances, their learning styles, and the subject-specific content in question.
Our Program Areas
Comprehending and shaping the economy
“In order to shape your own life and make responsible choices, an understanding of economic issues is essential. This is why we promote economic education for young people.”
- We encourage young people to get to grapple with economic issues – both inside and outside the classroom.
- We help teaching staff to plan their lessons by providing them with sound material, economic simulation games, and training courses to refresh their knowledge of teaching economics.
- We promote lateral thinking in the field of economics and support new approaches, methods and ideas in interdisciplinary research.
In our society, each individual assumes a variety of roles over the course of their life. In terms of the economy, these roles include consumer, employee, and economic stakeholder. When these roles are properly reflected and proactively shaped, a social market economy gives all citizens the opportunity to develop in line with their own expectations and realize their own ideas while harnessing their skills and potential for both their own benefit and that of others. If people are to understand the market economy and use it to develop their ideas, it is vital that they gain a rudimentary economic education and acquire the ability to make economic judgments.
Our aim is to illustrate the strengths of our economic system, particularly its flexibility, while promoting the ability to form judgments and act with(entrepreneurial) independence. Being independent doesn’t necessarily mean starting your own business. Even as an employee, an independent working style that involves personal initiative and creates opportunities to influence the workplace is beneficial both to the individual and the company they work for. With this in mind, we support entrepreneurial education.
In schools, there are currently too few opportunities to acquire economic competencies. Although economic issues are firmly anchored in the majority of curricula, very little time is often accorded to them. Many teachers are not sufficiently well-trained in teaching economics and therefore often use their lessons to focus on other topics. What’s more, the many teaching materials provided by companies and industry associations are suspected of being biased and, for example, presenting a one-sided view from the employers’ perspective. We, on the other hand, develop our materials as an economically independent and politically neutral private foundation. School-based occupational orientation programs usually completed overlook the idea of self-employment. This unnecessarily restricts the goal of becoming actively involved in and shaping the economy. We develop materials designed to tackle this problem, as well.
“Scientific literacy and an interest in new research questions are prerequisites for individual judgment and social development.”
- We want to improve the public understanding of science. We therefore stimulate young people's interest by means of experiments and digital learning.
- We strengthen science teaching by means of up-to-date materials and accompanying teacher training courses. We also build networks among those involved in STEM subjects.
- We support talented young scientists by facilitating international, interdisciplinary collaboration.
Science is a driver of change and a way of tackling the challenges of our time. Science is about exploring phenomena and physical laws, and paving the way for applied research. It enables us, for example, to live ever healthier lives and remain more active in old age, improve environmental protection and food and energy supply, and revolutionize communication. In order to preserve this innovative strength, we foster curiosity, research ambition, and talent among young scientists and promote interdisciplinary research.
In terms of the way society develops, however, it is not enough for scientists to spearhead innovation. Public understanding of research is crucial. Only then can each and every one of us take part in the overall discourse and form nuanced opinions on key issues such as the energy transition, nutrition, and genetic engineering. For this reason, we need a broad scientific education that increases scientific literacy as well as a basic understanding of research and the fact that experiments, by their very nature, produce uncertain results.
Strengthening personal development
"Young people should be able to develop their talents without any constraints. Their path through life should be determined by their gifts, interests, and abilities - and not by their origin or status."
- We are committed to tailored support in the form of scholarships, as well as advice and assistance that are geared toward the strengths of each individual.
- We bring together everyone involved in education in a bid to enhance the educational transitions and careers of young people. We are determined to increase transparency and the flow of information between the institutions involved.
- We commission studies with a view to reflecting on and evaluating the approaches taken by our projects. The findings are used to shape our project work and improve coordination with project partners and beneficiaries.
Personal initiative and the ability to reflect are of pivotal importance if we are to have an active, tolerant, and high-performance society. In order to achieve this kind of lively community, we also need the creativity and inspiration required to bring about change. In turn, there can only be a willingness to change if dedicated and self-confident individuals are allowed to think critically and freely. In our Personal Development program area, we wish to foster precisely these skills. Our aim is to break down barriers that impede the development of young people. Otherwise, society will lose proactive drivers of change and vocal citizens.
Education studies continue to show a lack of equality when it comes to educational access. The correlation between origin and social status on the one hand and educational achievement on the other still remains a problem. Support for individual talents and interests is often accessed by socially privileged young people, because these kinds of models are recognized and appreciated in their world. They also have the requisite level of self-confidence. Other young people are just as gifted, however. The aim of our work is to provide support by means of grants, exchange programs, and neighborhood projects while building up networks and making a lasting positive impact on educational careers as a whole. We want everyone to get the support that’s right for them. This might be support to help them graduate from high school or prepare for their exams. Alternatively, it might be funding for trainees. As a degree is not the only foundation for pursuing a successful educational career, we believe in offering tailored support at an early stage. We want people to encounter a range of viewpoints at an early age and gain experience, especially in terms of looking beyond the social and cultural environment they are familiar with. We even give them the opportunity to experience life in different countries. Intercultural competence acquired abroad is a key qualification when it comes to finding your way in an increasingly globalized world.
Picture: © Kitzmann Architekten / Heiner Leiska