In 2016, Software AG – Foundation from Darmstadt launched the “Auf Augenhöhe” (“At Eye-Level”) Fund together with partners and provided it with more than half a million euro. After the peak of the so-called refugee crisis, the joint goal was to strengthen civil engagement for refugees and migrants who have arrived, as well as quickly and non-bureaucratically facilitating places (of refuge), in which social cohesion is created and encounters can take place at eye-level.
In this spirit, the fund has not only subsidised projects, in which people from various cultural circles can treat one another with respect, but it has also let the applicants defined for themselves, what it needed for these encounters - without tight deadlines, strict subsidisation criteria and complicated application procedures.
In order to apply for project subsidies in the amount of up to EUR 5,000, initially, only citizens’ foundations with a quality seal and later on, also citizens’ foundations that are eligible for quality seals, were able to either submit the applications for their own projects or on behalf of local initiatives.
With its open format, which is symbolised by the empty bench, the fund left space for diverse approaches and ideas. Sometimes, consulting, support and dialogue were required, sometimes it involved getting together regarding art and (eating) culture, experiencing nature or sport. By mid-2020, nearly 180 very different projects were developed in this way, including an integration radio station, services for self-organisation of refugees or theatrical productions on the subjects of “homeland” and “escape”.
Alarmed by growing xenophobia and simultaneously encouraged by the high efficiency of the fund, Software AG – Foundation decided to continue involving itself in the tried-and-tested format for the issues of “migration” and “integration”. Therefore, it paid another EUR 300,000 into the fund account on 6 February 2020 and in addition to the citizens’ foundations, it gained the Houses of Resources (HoR) as additional cooperation partners, through which the societies involved can also obtain support in the future, in the amount of EUR 3,000 to EUR 5,000, depending requirements. In the meantime, the fund, in which Software AG – Stiftung 2021 has once again invested half a million euros (distributed across three years), is working together with 13 out of the total of 20 HoR.