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 2021 jury members were Marufa Akter, first winner of the Commitment Award, Robert Burdy, Shibumi Leadership Academy and MDR, Michael Dirkx, Schmitz-Stiftungen, Dirk Wegler, TheX, Clara Peron, Value for Good and Rupert Antes of the Haniel Foundation.
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: commitmentaward.org
2021 Winners of the Commitment Award
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.