The Commitment Award

Logo Commitment Award

About the Commitment Award

Willy Brandt himself represented social change, which was reflected in his social and political reforms. He believed that policies serve no purpose if the policy makers did not have a specific goal in mind when creating it. Thus, in the multicultural and diverse setting of the Brandt School, the Commitment Award seeks to give students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned at the Brandt School and to initiate new social initiatives here in Erfurt and around the world.

Three winning projects are chosen at the annual award ceremony in Erfurt. Any student currently enrolled or alumni from the Brandt School may submit an application. External applications are possible if supported by a “Brandt School Ambassador” – please contact us to find potential partners. So check out the Commitment Award website for requirements, dates and materials.

After the application period, a jury of experts carefully evaluates the applications while considering the following questions: How charitable is the project? How much potential and sustainability is incorporated into the project? Will the prize money be used responsibly and effectively? Is the project likely to be actualized and is it scalable?

The jury consists of various members from politics, civil society and the private sector. The 2023 jury members were Dr. Tobias Ernst, Managing Director at Kiron Open Higher Education, Robert Burdy, Shibumi Leadership Academy and MDR, Yudy Andrea Novoa López, first winner of the Commitment Award.

The Engagementpreis Foundation has been sponsoring the Commitment Award at the Brandt School since 2012. We also thank our partners, the Kinnings Foundation, the Town & Country Foundation, the Haniel Foundation and Udo van Meeteren for their generous support of the award ceremony.

Further information on the application requirements and process, the last years' projects and how they were actualized can be found on Facebook as well as on the award's website:

2023 Winners

The Commitment Awards 2023 for outstanding social and sustainable project ideas all over the world went to three empowering projects in Ethiopia, Mexico, and Afghanistan on July 6, 2023, at the Collegium Maius in Erfurt.


Please note: Once you watch the video, data will be transmitted to Youtube/Google. For more information, see Google Privacy.

During the 2023 Commitment Award ceremony three prizes were awarded to the following projects:

Arupur Charles Peyo, "Cattle Raid Child Care and Reintegration Project" (Ethiopia)

One prize went to the "Cattle Raid Child Care and Reintegration Project", a project by Arupur Charles Peyo to care for and reintegrate children from families who have been victims of cattle raiding in Ethiopia. It aims to provide these children with comprehensive care, protection and support through family-based counselling, education and vocational education to better integrate them into society and overcome their trauma.

Francisco Calep Pimienta González and Cristhy Alejandra Alpuche Cabrera "Digital Literacy for the Social Incidence" / "Dig-Incidence" (Mexico)

Another award went to "Digital Literacy for the Social Incidence" or "Dig-Incidence" for short, a project by Francisco Calep Pimienta González and Cristhy Alejandra Alpuche Cabrera to improve the digital literacy of civil society organisations in Mexico to strengthen their impact in society. Through mentoring and training courses, participants will be trained in digital skills and learn how to use digital tools for better social interaction.

Sayed Ziafatullah Saeedi "Afghan Girls to University" 

"Afghan Girls to University" by Sayed Ziafatullah Saeedi was awarded a third prize. This project focuses on ten female survivors of a suicide attack on the Kaaj Educational Center in Kabul (Afghanistan) in 2022, who are denied access to education by the Taliban. Although they have excellent qualifications, they are unable to apply for universities in the US/Europe because of the wide gap between the Afghan and US/European education systems and the female students' unfamiliarity with the latter. To help them successfully apply to universities in the US/Europe, this project firstly provides them with one-to-one tutoring, and secondly finances the fee for their English test.

Dr. Julia Duchrow, Deputy Secretary General at Amnesty International (Germany) held the keynote speech at this year's award ceremony. She spoke about why commitment for human rights is just as important today - 75 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - as it was after the Second World War.


Please note: Once you watch the video, data will be transmitted to Youtube/Google. For more information, see Google Privacy.

2021 Winners

The Commitment Awards 2021 for outstanding social and sustainable project ideas all over the world went to three empowering projects in Ecuador, Pakistan and Brazil on June 17, 2021.

Award Ceremony 2021

Please note: Once you watch the video, data will be transmitted to Youtube/Google. For more information, see Google Privacy.

Mercedes Bustán "Education for Future" (Ecuador)

One of the 2021 award winners was the project “Education for Future” by Brandt School student Mercedes Bustan: In the first five years of schooling, children who study at public schools in Ecuador do not receive English language education. Most of these children cannot afford private lessons or extracurricular English classes. This harsh reality is reflected in the rankings that place Ecuador in the last place among the 19 Latin American countries according to the English Proficiency Index of Education First. “Education for Future” proposes an eight-month English program where children aged six to12 years learn a new language and develop reading, listening, writing, and speaking skills and at the same time, enhance their talents through painting, dancing, drawing, reading, and acting. The project is offered to disadvantaged children to help them develop an early motivation to learn a new language and strengthen their talents through art. Participation in the Education for Future program will result in creating better academic and professional opportunities for many children who lack comprehensive education.

Athar Farooq and Nafisa Islam Fariba "Right Skills - Bright Future" (Pakistan)

One of the 2021 award winners was the the project “Right Skills – Bright Future” by Brandt School students Athar Farooq and Nafisa Islam Fariba. The project is an initiative to upskill women through digital education, so they can be self-employed and self-dependent. The aim is to build a bridge between the challenges and opportunities of acquiring and utilizing digital education in Pakistan in the disputed territory of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The freelancing market provides immense opportunity for females of Pakistan, a country with the lowest women employment rate in the world. If provided the right tools and education, college students more prone to dropouts could work self-employed from home. The aim is to pilot with a certain number of female students in collaboration with Read Foundation, an NGO with 390 local schools and colleges all over Pakistan. The project plans to provide the female students a starting point with digital skills, so that going forward they can participate in the digital labor force and achieve financial independence.

Dayane Rodrigues and Natália Koto "You Got This!" (Brazil)

One of the 2021 award winners was the project “You Got This!” by Brandt School students Dayane Rodrigues and Natália Koto, which shall be implemented in cooperation with the Associacao Estudo e Trabalho (AET). The AET is an NGO that provides free extra classes to support students from low-income families to pass an admission test, which enables access to a public-funded technical high school program in São Paulo (ETEC). You got this! aims to complementarily empower these students, helping them to build the necessary resilience to persist in their studies and to enter the formal labor market, regardless of their standardized test results. It is a unique initiative, given the technical knowledge, soft skills development, and tools offered. The students can benefit from such skills throughout their lives, whether they choose an academic or a technical path. Therefore, You got this! consists of a mentoring program with the potential of breaking the intergenerational poverty cycle by increasing their abilities to low-income students succeed in life.

The winners of the 2021 Commitment Award

The Commitment Award celebrated its decennial in 2021 with special appearances during the award ceremony, which was streamed live on YouTube. The Commitment Award ambassador and U23 triathlon world champion Sophia Saller delivered the prizes to the winning teams in a remarkable way: By swimming, cycling and running to the winning teams.  Moreover, several speeches were given by well-known guests i.a. Thuringia’s Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow, MP Katrin Göring-Eckardt and actress Katja Riemann.

Read more about it in our News Post .

2019 Winners

1st Prize: Ni Otto Dodoo and Anthony Dogbedo
“Knowledge is Power: The Reading Hub” (Ghana)

Ni Otto Dodoo and Anthony Dogbedo, first-year students at the Brandt School, and their project “Knowledge is Power: The Reading Hub”, seek to support the children living in the Budumburam Refugee Camp in Ghana. The project aims to provide the platform for students to develop, strength-en and sustain their interest for reading and general studies, improve their mathematic skills and receive assistance with schoolwork. The project also seeks to reduce child prostitution, teenage pregnancy and parenthood, drug abuse and ‘streetism’ in the refugee camp.

2nd Prize: Sofia Vanessa Hernández Zambrano
Communitarian-Fabric “Tierra Verde” (Ecuador)

Ecuadorian women, especially young women, single mothers and those of African descent, face outstanding unemployment rates. First-year student Sofia Vanessa Hernández Zambrano`s project “Communitarian Fabric ‘Tierra Verde’” aims to offer an opportunity for social economic productive groups (Asociaciones EPS) consisting of Afro-descendent women and/or single mothers to start their own entrepreneurial initiatives by providing them with the necessary infrastructure and support.

3rd Prize: Tamara Puerto
“Edu-Sex” (Colombia)

Second-year student Tamara Puerto’s project “Edu-Sex” seeks to combat gender inequality and the lack of sex education in Colombia. The project aim is to design, prepare, implement, evaluate and disseminate the results of a set of workshops, study modules and conferences with schools and universities in Colombia on topics related to sex and gender, gender equality, sexual and reproductive rights and diversity.

The winners of the 2019 Commitment Award
The winners of the 2019 Commitment Award at the award ceremony at the Collegium Maius in Erfurt

2017 Winners

1st prize: Johny Hilaire and Margarette Pierre-Louis (Haiti)

“Goat Breeding for Entrepreneurship”: Our 2018 Commitment Award winners developed a project with which they plan to empower young residents of Vialet, Haiti. Their goat breeding program seeks to reduce poverty in the area by providing an initial 50 goats among the citizens. Since animal husbandry is the most secured economic activity in Vialet, the citizens will have a solid basis on which to build a sustainable and self-sufficient economic future.

2nd prize: Muhammad Usman Khan (Pakistan)

“Mera Vote – Mera Mustaquil” (“My Vote – My Future”): By tackling the issues of illiteracy, lack of awareness, patriarchal norms and a lack of civic programs, second year MPP student Muhammad and his project will advocate for women’s voting rights in the village of Gagh of District Kushab, Pakistan. The main objective of the project is to empower women to participate in the next general elections.

3rd prize: Matenjay Sheriff and Abraham Keita (Liberia)

“The Ballon Dieu Football Club”: The football club aims to boost the moral and community spirit in the community of Gbanjor by fostering participation in sports among men and women of all ages and thus encouraging community building and healthy living.

The winners of the 2017 Commitment Award
The 2017 Commitment Award winners

2015 Winners

1st prize: Jessie Jhon Mateo-Magkilat and Hannah Yan-Wai Saley (Philippines)

Their project "Reading on Wheels" aims at improving street children’s life by bringing the joy of reading to children in the street of the Philippine city of Cagayan de Oro. The prize money helped to to purchase little trollies and books. Volunteers from Cagayan de Oro-based Xavier University go to the streets and read stories to the kids. For their project, the winners benefited from the Brandt School’s global Alumni network: Manilee Pañares, MPP student in Erfurt from 2012 to 2014, works at Xavier University and supports the idea strongly.

2nd prize: Theresia Nkafu Atemkeng (Cameroon)

The project "Shelter to Educate" provides a two years accommodation and school fee support to three women between 18 and 25 years from rural communities in the Buea region by implementing a special housing model, where coaching and mentoring by the landlord is already part of the educational process.

3rd prize: George Ayuune Akeliwira (Ghana)

The project "Giving Hope to Hopeless Tomatoes Farmers of Zorko" supports farmers in the North of Ghana by providing water pumps to the rural community of Zorko, where more than 90 percent of the population is depending on agriculture and water supply is a big problem in the dry season.

The 2015 Commitment Award winners pose together on stage
The 2015 Commitment Award winners

2022 Winners

The Commitment Awards 2022 for outstanding social and sustainable project ideas all over the world went to three empowering projects in Ethiopia, Mexico, and Afghanistan on July 7, 2022, at the Collegium Maius in Erfurt.

2022 Award Winners

Please note: Once you watch the video, data will be transmitted to Youtube/Google. For more information, see Google Privacy.

During the 2022 Commitment Award ceremony three prizes were awarded to the following projects:

Chukwudi Okolo and Ebele Odinachi “Go-Women – Preneurs Initiative” (Nigeria)

The project aims at empowering Nigerian women, especially mothers who are the breadwinners of their families. They are to be supported in their business ideas and provided with small loans to get started. Because: 100 euros are enough to start a small business in Nigeria. A laudation speech for the project was held by Prof. Dr. Solveig Richter, Heisenberg Professor for International Relations and Transnational Politics at Leipzig University and former Brandt School professor. She praised: “The project is small, but very practical, it is ambitious but not overwhelming, and it is concrete but still very visionary.”.

Pius Fozan, Shuma Banik and Souvik Bandhapadhyay “Happy Periods” (India)

The project aims to raise awareness about menstruation in India and to facilitate access to menstrual hygiene. The project initiators plan to work with affected persons, public institutions, and teachers to sensitize political decision-makers to the issue and to combat menstrual poverty. The laudation for the project “Happy Periods” was held by Simon Vaut, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. He addressed the winners by saying: “You showed awareness to a very relevant social problem, you proved great teamwork in coming up with a convincing solution and you have the audacity to deal with a topic that is often being ignored.”.

Priscilla Appiah “Ed-Tech for the Special Child” (Ghana)

With her project, Priscilla Appiah wants to support primary education for children with special learning needs in Ghana. The initiative will provide ed-tech toolkits with tablets, headsets and customized apps and software for children with learning disabilities. The laudation for the project “Ed-Tech for the Special Child” was held by Robert Burdy, a journalist, author, and coach. He states “what you are proposing for Ghana is a beautiful thing. […] It’s about creating opportunities, it’s about creating chances for individuals.”.

At the 2022 Commitment Award ceremony, Dr. Anna-Maija Mertens, Managing Director of Transparency International Germany, held an inspiring keynote speech on social entrepreneurship, power and transparency.

Keynote Mertens Transparency

Please note: Once you watch the video, data will be transmitted to Youtube/Google. For more information, see Google Privacy.

Dr. Anna-Maija Mertens acknowledged that especially social entrepreneurs often shy away from power: “You need to have scope to act in order to generate impact. You need to have the ability to act. What I’m talking about is power.” She stressed: “Power is a very neutral thing […] it can be used in two ways: in the constructive way, and the destructive way. And it’s your decision to choose what way you will go.”.

She warned that despite obviously working for a good cause, social entrepreneurs should always be critical of themselves. We need to “make sure that this power – that is so urgently needed in these different corners of the world – is not abused. […] Of course, you are going to make mistakes, we all do, all the time. Otherwise, you wouldn’t learn.” Thus, when we have power, we need a risk management system.

Next to the keynote speech and the presentation of the prizes, the ceremony included greetings from Markus Pins (Founder and Managing Director, Engagementpreis Foundation), input by Lena Kiesewetter (Managing Director, Willy Brandt School of Public Policy) and the two moderators Prof. Dr. Heike Grimm (Aletta Haniel Professorship for Public Policy and Entrepreneurship, University of Erfurt) and Houssein Al Malla (Brandt School student), presentations of all shortlisted projects and a musical opening by Deslin Ami Kaba and Ludwig Heinze.

2020 Winners

1st Prize 2020: Daniela Sota Valdivia and Adriana Gonzalez Carrion
“Yupayta Yachasunchis: Increasing Knowledge” (Peru)

This project aims to strengthen the mathematics and language skills of Quechua speaking children aged 7 to 11 years old in the indigenous community of Ccatcca in Peru. Quechua speaking children have long received a poor quality education and due to COVID-19, they are now being deprived of it entirely. The government’s home-schooling program has been developed for Spanish speakers only and it is not broadcasted across local radios in rural communities. To help children cope with this situation, the project aims to strengthen their skills through a weekly radio educational program. Thus, the project will contribute to narrowing the gap between rural and urban education while also helping to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections by promoting this type of education as an option to reduce social contact.

2nd Prize 2020: Consuelo Fuentes
“Women Force” (Chile)

The 2020 Second Prize went to the mobile app “Woman Force”, a concept created by Brandt School student Consuelo Fuentes which provides an alternative help to women in Chile who suffer from domestic violence and who may be exposed to dangerous situations. There were 3,800 registered femicides in Latin America in 2018 and through a panic button built into the app, the user can alert the police of a domestic disturbance and receive timely help. Besides a panic button, the app will also offer data cloud storage where victims can save evidence of the violence they experience for subsequent legal claims against their aggressors. This project is an alternative source to government agencies, which mostly encourage reporting but do not give the tools necessary to be an accessible solution for all women.

3rd Prize 2020: Sarah Filippi-Field and Kyaw Si Thu
"Yangon Playmakers" (Myanmar)

This is a project that seeks to transform an abandoned lot into a community play hub for youth living in No. 93 Ward, Dagon Seikkan Township, Yangon, Myanmar. Currently, neighborhood youth have no stimulating, safe space to play. Studies show that access to play contributes to children’s physical, psychological, and social wellbeing. By offering a physical play space as well as interactive, community-led programs throughout the year, Yangon Playmakers will positively impact the lives of over 300 youth. The project utilizes a participatory approach where youth and other residents contribute to the site design and construction, therefore also contributing to community empowerment.

The 2020 Award Ceremony was streamed on the Commitment Award's Facebook page and YouTube channel on July 9, 2020. A recording of the event is available on both sites.

photo of winners
The winners of the 2020 Commtment Award

2018 Winners

1st Prize: Nabeela Khalid Pervez, Muhammad Usman Khan and Muhammad Arslan Yaseen (Pakistan)

“Har Bacha Mehfooz (Every Child’s Safety)”: The project aims to curb child abuse in Pakistan by equipping 315 head teachers and Assistant Education Officers (AEOs) with theoretical knowledge and practical skills. The teachers and AEOs will in turn share their knowledge with 2700 teaching staff, and each teacher will then further train school children up to grade 8, meaning over 30000 school children would benefit in total.

2nd Prize: Ibrahim Koita and Amos Edem Agbenyo (Ghana)

“Water is Life”: The project seeks to provide safe and potable drinking water to the people of Kramokrom by commissioning an ultra-modern mechanized borehole with a reservoir and five taps. Clean drinking water prevents the spread of water-related diseases and reduces the amount of time spent fetching water, meaning school attendance rates could increase.

3rd Prize: Maria Brackin, Hendrik Hebel, Richard Henahan, Rubén León and Aaron Sandoval (Thuringia, Germany)

"Sharing Living Project": The project aims to promote intergenerational interaction through shared living in Erfurt. The project seeks to bring together students struggling to find affordable housing and elderly people who face challenges living alone by creating a centralized online platform to match needs with capabilities.

The winners of the 2018 Commitment Award pose together
The winners of the 2018 Commitment Award

2016 Winners

1st prize: Daniar Matikanov, Aiperi Otunchieva, and Batybek Alymkulov (Kyrgysztan)

“Water for Small-scale Farmers” - As a result of climate change and due to the alteration of rainfall patterns, rain-fed agriculture at Shybran village in south Kyrgyzstan is under risk. Improved technology for rainwater harvesting will be the key to adapt to these changes. Our winners present practical solutions for efficient water use in the absence of water system infrastructure in rural areas. They state that even with annual precipitation levels lower than 300 mm, it is possible to ensure rain-fed agriculture.

2nd prize: Harini Suresh (India)

"Save our Future" - First-year MPP student Harini aims to spread awareness about the issue of child sexual abuse in the city of Chennai, India. Fellows at schools would be provided with a complete set of lesson plans breaking down this complex issue into simpler units that would explain everything to a child.

3rd prize: Grigoriy Grigoryev and Jafar Terciano Binasse (Mozambique)

“Computer School in Sub-Saharan Village in Mozambique” - They created a project that is dedicated to the development of computer skills for the young inhabitants of the Marrupa community, in Mozambique. They would like to create an inexpensive Raspberry Pi computer school, where local kids can learn to use computers. Eventually, they’ll be able to learn to code and create programs; as the computers would be running Open Source Software.

The winners of the 2016 Commitment Award on stage
The winners of the 2016 Commitment Award

2014 Winners

1st Prize: Julia Oestreich (Sri Lanka)

Julia's project “Weaving for Independence” is based in Sri Lanka and works with the Selyn Foundation. The main idea of her project focuses on empowering women by providing the opportunities and skills necessary to start sustainable textile businesses.

2nd Prize: Krishna Giri (Nepal)

Krishna's project aims to provide safe drinking water for school children in Nepal.

3rd Prize: Steve Wakhu (Kenya)

Steve's project “Adopt a Girl” aims to create equal opportunities for girls in schools by disrupting social stigmas regarding sexual health. Although Steve was unable to attend the ceremony, Nora Böggemann accepted the award on Steve’s behalf.

The 2014 winners of the Commitment Award
The winners of the 2014 Commitment Award