Funding criteria

1. What we support

Stiftung Mercator implements its own projects and provides funding for external projects. In practice, roughly 20 percent of projects are implemented by the foundation itself, while around 80 percent are funded as external projects.

Every year, Stiftung Mercator receives a large number of grant applications which far exceed the available grants. In choosing which projects to support, we therefore have to apply strict standards according to the thematic and strategic funding criteria detailed below.

Please only apply for a grant if your project meets these criteria.

Thematic funding criteria

Projects are chosen first and foremost on the basis of whether they will help achieve the concrete targets in our four thematic clusters. All submitted grant applications should be oriented towards at least one of these clusters and contribute to the achievement of its objectives.

  • Europe: We wish to strengthen Europe’s cohesion and ability to act. You can find detailed information about our work in the area of Europe here.
  • Integration: Our goal is to reduce by 2025 the inequality in Germany in terms of school and university qualifications – based on the 2005 level – by 70 percent for people of migrant origin and aged 15-30. As an interim target, we are working to reduce by 2015 the discrepancies by 30 percent. You can find detailed information about our work in the area of integration here.
  • Climate Change: We are committed to reducing the human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases included in the Kyoto Protocol by 40 percent in Germany by 2020 and by at least 80 percent by 2050, measured against the 1990 levels. You can find detailed information about our work in the area of climate change here.
  • Cultural Education: Our objective is to firmly anchor cultural education in the school systems of Germany’s federal states as an equally important part of general education. To this end, we are committed to formulating quality criteria for cultural education within the education quality framework. Our aim is to achieve this in at least four federal states by 2015 and in all federal states by 2025. You can find detailed information about our work in the area of cultural education here.

Besides these four thematic areas, we also fund projects in selected fields of activity:

In our Centre for Science and Humanities:

  • the science-policy interface
  • Institutional cooperation between universities in the Ruhr region

In our Centre for Education and Centre for Integration we solely support projects within the framework of the goals specified in our four thematic clusters, focusing above all on the following fields of activity:

  • Supporting a culture of teaching and learning that fosters individuals
  • Language tuition
  • Networks of educational institutions

The work of our Centre for International Affairs is concentrated solely on two regions:

  • Europe/Turkey
  • China

Strategic funding criteria

In addition to the aforementioned thematic criteria, we also assess every grant application according to the following strategic criteria:

  • Quality: Only applications that meet the highest quality standards within their respective field have any chance of receiving funding. The applicants must demonstrate proven expertise in the relevant thematic field.
  • Systemic impact: Foundations are most likely to achieve success if they pursue objectives aimed at bringing about long-term social change. For this reason we are not interested in individual measures but above all in projects that will have systemic impact. To ensure that our funding has a lasting effect, it is important for us to know at the time of application how the project in question will be anchored long-term within the system after the end of our funding phase.
  • Funding period: Bringing about change in the academic, scientific and educational systems takes time. We therefore prefer to fund longer-term projects whose contents and organization are monitored intensively and which have a long-term effect on the funded institution and system.
  • Evaluation: Preference is given to funding projects which are scientifically monitored and evaluated throughout the funding phase.
  • Cross-sector action: Foundations can particularly exploit their specific advantages as neutral actors when they work at the interfaces between the various sectors of society. This is why we particularly support applicants who involve institutions from other social sectors working in the same thematic field (for example political decision-makers, ministries at federal and state level, scientific and academic institutions, associations and organizations).
  • Regional projects: The Ruhr region is the home of our founding family and as such the region in which application of Stiftung Mercator’s strategy is given preference.

2. What we do not support

• Construction work

• Printing cost subsidies for publications

• Development costs for technical, artistic or other end products (such as films, teaching materials, apps, artwork) that do not form part of our projects

• Simulation games for pupils and students (for example Model United Nations)

• Events with a purely entertainment or festival character; sporting and leisure events

• Commercially-oriented projects and institutions

• Open-ended projects and ventures

• Gaps in public-sector budgets

• Individual persons or groups (e.g. families, groups of artists, schools)

• Individual assistance (for example travel costs, training costs)

• Individual scholarships outside the scholarship programmes and fellowships funded by the Foundation

• International projects of no relevance to Germany

• In the area of climate change: projects focused solely on the environmental education of young people

• In the area of integration: projects not aimed at improving school and university qualifications and of no clear relevance to the issue of educational participation

• In the area of cultural education: projects of no direct relevance to our objectives in this area (for example individual practical projects, non-school projects, pure art projects)