HOW LONG HAS THE FOUNDATION BEEN IN EXISTENCE?
Stiftung Mercator GmbH was entered in the commercial register in 1996 and commenced its work in the following years.
WHO FOUNDED STIFTUNG MERCATOR?
Stiftung Mercator GmbH, Essen and Stiftung Mercator Schweiz, Zurich were founded by the Schmidt family, which has donated a substantial amount of its own assets to the foundation. From additional assets that the founding family had made available for non-profit activities, the two foundations were furnished with funds on an ongoing basis in the form of grants and donations.
When it placed its entrepreneurial activities under the umbrella of the non-profit Meridian Stiftung, the Karl Schmidt family finished channelling its assets into non-profit activities in 2017, a process it had been preparing for many years. The main focus of its non-profit activities is on providing financial support for the non-profit Stiftung Mercator GmbH in Essen (Germany) and for the non-profit Stiftung Mercator Schweiz with a view to contributing to the public good, to peaceful coexistence and to the preservation of the natural environment, in line with the founding family’s philosophy.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STIFTUNG MERCATOR GERMANY AND STIFTUNG MERCATOR SWITZERLAND?
Essen-based Stiftung Mercator Germany and Zurich-based Stiftung Mercator Switzerland were both founded by the Karl Schmidt family. Since June 2017, both foundations have been funded by the higher-level Meridian Stiftung. Consequently, both foundations are now linked. They are driven by the same guiding philosophies and convictions, work independently of one another and are active in similar thematic fields.
WHERE DOES THE FOUNDATION’S NAME COME FROM?
Stiftung Mercator is named after the famous Duisburg cartographer and cosmographer Gerhard Mercator (1512-1594). His maps and globes were more precise than any that had previously been available, and in the Age of Discovery proved extremely popular with everyone from the royal courts of the time to seafarers. They set the standards for the following two centuries. What is more, the “Mercator projection” he developed is still in use to this day: it allows a conformal representation of the Earth, which makes navigating at sea considerably easier. However, this advantage could only be achieved by distorting surface areas: those northern hemisphere land masses far from the equator appear significantly larger in the Mercator projection. As all former colonial countries were situated in the northern hemisphere, this effect of the Mercator projection was criticized, as was the positioning of Europe at the centre of the world map. This use of cartography to convey a cultural conception provoked criticism and prompted later cartographers to draw up maps that corrected Mercator’s geographical representation of the world.
Mercator was the son of a cobbler. He went to university in Löwen, remaining there after his graduation to set up a business. This is where his career took off. In 1544, however, he was arrested and charged with heresy, under suspicion of holding protestant beliefs. This is probably what drove him and his family to relocate to Duisburg, a city famous for its tolerance of religious diversity, in 1552. It is also possible that he was offered a chair at the planned university, though he never lived to see it founded. Mercator spent the following 42 years in Duisburg and to this day he is the city’s most famous citizen.
His name stands for the connection between global thinking, scientific precision and entrepreneurship. Mercator’s life also symbolizes the significance of intercultural and interreligious tolerance – values that Stiftung Mercator also supports.
WHY IS STIFTUNG MERCATOR BASED IN ESSEN?
The Schmidts, a family of merchants and entrepreneurs, come from the Ruhr and feel a strong sense of loyalty to the region.
WHERE DO THE ASSETS OF STIFTUNG MERCATOR COME FROM?
The assets of Stiftung Mercator come from the funds provided by the Schmidt family.
IS THE FOUNDATION A NON-PROFIT ENTERPRISE?
Stiftung Mercator GmbH is recognized by the Essen-South tax office as a non-profit corporate enterprise, as evidenced by the foundation’s current exemption certificate.
HOW CAN I APPLY FOR A STIFTUNG MERCATOR GRANT?
In principle, anyone can apply for funding for projects that support the achievement of the clearly-defined strategic objectives in our themes. Our funding guidelines and funding application forms can be found on our website. You can also find answers there to frequently asked questions about the application procedure. If you meet the necessary criteria, you are also welcome to apply to any of our current vacancies that are published online.