Commitment Award 2020: Get to know the projects (1/2)

Willy Brandt himself represented social change, reflected in his social and political reforms. He believed that policies served no purpose if the policymakers did not have a specific goal in mind when creating it. Thus, in the multicultural and diverse settings of the Brandt School, the Commitment Award seeks to allow students and alumni to apply what they’ve learned at the Brandt School and to initiate new social initiatives in Erfurt (where the Brandt School is based, and around the world. In close cooperation, the Engagementpreis Foundation and the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy have been organizing the Commitment Award since 2012. The Engagementpreis-Stiftung gUG, annually funds the top three project proposals, awarding the winners the financial means to execute their innovative ideas. They award the first prize winner with 2,500 euros, the second place prize is 1,500 euros, and the third prize winner receives 1,000 euros.

This year, 15 projects are competing for the top three prizes. We will introduce these projects over the next two posts. After the award ceremony on July 9th, we will have a special episode of The Bulletin Podcast with the three winners of the Commitment Award 2020.

Let’s get started with the first eight projects:


Project 1: “Capacity Building and Behavioral Change Interventions for Holistic Menstrual Hygiene Management” (Bangladesh)
By Komal Ramdey, Nafisa Islam Fariba and Bisma Iftekhar 

Current Brandt School students Komal, Nafisa, and Bisma have created the project “Capacity Building and Behavioral Change Interventions for Holistic Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM).” There are nearly 24 million menstruators in Bangladesh, the majority of whom have no knowledge and facilities to manage their menstruation hygienically and with dignity, having grave consequences on their personalities. Their idea is to advocate for safe and hygienic menstrual practices and improving the status of MHM in Bangladesh by targeting the most vulnerable groups starting schools, garment factory workers & Rohingya refugees. Three aspects will be covered during the project providing an end-to-end solution: breaking the silence, menstrual hygiene management (practices and access to absorbents), and safe disposal of menstrual waste. The project is based on partnerships and capacity building of relevant institutions. This project ensures sustainability, using volunteers and existing infrastructure with an advocacy component for mainstreaming MHM in national policies.


Project 2: “FACT – Form, Articulate, Connect and Transform” (Brazil)
By Carolina Reis

The project “FACT – Form, Articulate, Connect and Transform,” created by Brandt School student Carolina Reis, gives high school youth the opportunity to connect with the public sphere, discovering their potential to impact it as a vocation and professional opportunity. Carried out through partnerships with public high schools and the State Department of Education, it is a training program in three stages: (1) advertising and selection through public professions fairs; (2) online training with mentoring sessions; (3) immersion and challenge phase with institutional visits, lectures and a Public Service Solutions Hackathon. Through a dynamic and engaged process, FACT aims to form and articulate young people, connecting them with decision-makers to transform their realities. In the short term, it will influence their future careers, adding the public sector as a possibility of impact, building a school culture that prizes public services, and calling public actors to reconnect with citizens. In the long term, the project may stimulate innovative and committed public servants.


Project 3: “Yangon Playmakers: A Community Hub by and for Dagon Seikkan Township Youth” (Myanmar)
by Sarah Filippi-Field and Kyaw Si Thu

Brandt School students Sarah Filippi-Field and Kyaw Si Thu are the creators of “Yangon Playmakers,” 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 contributing to community empowerment.


Project 4: “ZuSamen e.V.” (Germany)
by Sonia Ran, Mohammad Shaklab and Olivia Munson

Brandt School student Sonia Ran, along with partners Olivia Munson and Mohammad Shaklab, created ZuSamen, e.V., a social impact community agriculture space centered on youth empowerment, intercultural awareness, and food literacy. Acting as both an urban farm and a youth educational program, ZuSamen e.V. brings youth together from all over Berlin in an intercultural exchange to produce local, sustainable produce. The youth programs teach youth about food systems, sustainability, and social justice and bring together teenagers from different neighborhoods and backgrounds who might otherwise not have the opportunity to interact with each other at a young age. It also benefits the local community by providing affordable, locally-grown produce, and donating produce to local homeless shelters.


Project 5: “Women Force” (Chile)
by Consuelo Fuentes

The mobile app “Woman Force”, a concept created by Brandt School student Consuelo Fuentes, provides alternative help to women who suffer from domestic violence and who may be exposed to dangerous situations. Through a panic button, they can alert the police to receive timely relief, to combat the startling figure of 3,800 femicides that were registered in Latin America in 2018. Besides a panic button, the app will also offer data cloud storage, where women can save evidence of the violence they experience for subsequent legal claims against their aggressors. This project is an alternative source for government agencies, which mostly encourage reporting, which is not an accessible solution for all women.


Project 6: “SAFE – Social Artisan Fund for indigenous Entrepreneurs” (Colombia, Germany)
by Charlotte Lydia Bock, Mani Bhushan Kumar Jha, Kenny Chan, and Sydney Kloster

Four students from the Brandt School: Charlotte Bock, Manu Bhushan Kumar Jha, Kenny Chan, and Sydney Kloster, created SAFE to alleviate the poverty of indigenous women, thus families and communities in Colombia and promote indigenous cultural preservation. The indigenous women entrepreneurs aim to sell their products in Germany to get out of poverty and create a sustainable and worth living future for their indigenous communities. SAFE aims to be a key supporter of them by presenting the unique stories of indigenous women’s work and life via video documentation, photography, and written articles provided on SAFE’s worldwide e-commerce platform for intercultural education and awareness. The aim of indigenous women is to build up an artisan school where they educate and teach their children on the production of traditional arts and crafts and the necessary entrepreneurial skills, thus maintaining the enterprise and school by themselves. For this purpose, an “Artisan Fund” for the establishment of the school will be created by SAFE’s sales profit.


Project 7: “Somriddhi/Prosperity – Empowering Women Through Learning and Earning” (Bangladesh)
by Mohammad Newaz Sharif, Kazi Ashief Mahmood

This project, created by Mohammad Newaz Sharif and Kazi Ashief Mahmood from the Brandt School, aims to develop skills for income generation of 30 women in the first year and gradually increase to 120 in three years. The project aims to benefit survivors of domestic abuse/violence due to zero-income, which often results in zero-participation in family decision making in a disaster-prone and predominant patriarchal society. The project begins with a 1-month training on handicraft and handloom trades followed by a seed fund to each for raw materials. This project will utilize the best marketing strategies to make a profit, of which 20% will be deposited for business continuity, training, and seed funding for new batches. Additionally, psychosocial stress management and communication training will be provided. It’s a do-it-yourself model where the team sharpens and uses certain skills for bettering their family and society.


Project 8: “Yupayta Yachasunchis: Increasing Knowledge” (Peru)
by Daniela Sota Valdivia

The project “Yupayta Yachasunchis: Increasing Knowledge,” created by alumna Daniela Sota Valdivia, aims to strengthen the math and language skills of Quechua speaking children aged 7 to 11 years old in the indigenous community of Ccatcca. 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, they aim to strengthen their skills through a weekly radio educational program. Thus, contributing 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 minimize social contact.

That’s it for the first part. Next week we will present the remaining seven projects before the award ceremony on July 9th. Three winning projects will be chosen after careful evaluation of the applications by a jury of experts. This jury thereby considers 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?

Want to learn more about the Commitment Award? Visit the website