... or to put the question in another way: "Why is the world's largest provider of automotive financial services supporting socially disadvantaged children in Braunschweig?"
"Very simple," says Angelika Rimatzki, governing board member of "Foundation – Our Children in Braunschweig", "because we take responsibility." Although Volkswagen Financial Services, which set up the foundation back in 2008, offer their financial service products in 48 countries throughout the world, the roots of the wholly-owned Volkswagen subsidiary lie in Braunschweig in Lower Saxony. And it is right there, where over 6,000 employees earn their living, that Volkswagen Financial Services serve as responsible citizens of the region and make their contribution to the development of culture, sport, and a more balanced and just society.
Ms Rimatzki explains further: "What counts for us in our numerous support initiatives is quality and sustainability. Our emphasis on the long-term nature of projects is not because we want to surf some zeitgeisty trend of sustainability, but because we are convinced that dependability and planning security are essential for the success of our help." From the very outset, the non-profit organization, which was established as a foundation with legal personality under German civil law, has clearly focused on funding either its own work or the projects of others to support socially disadvantaged children and young people in the Braunschweig region. The team of volunteers surrounding Angelika Rimatzki bases its work on four pillars of support: education, activity, music and nutrition. In these areas in particular, socially disadvantaged children and youngsters have development deficits in everyday life and therefore have difficulties in bringing to fruition their potential and talents.
As Angelika Rimatzki puts it, "Around 20 percent of all children in Braunschweig live in poverty. Poverty not only means worse access to education or eating an unhealthy diet. Being poor also involves, for example, living in restricted conditions, having limited means, and not being able to take part in school trips. Children also have to miss out on many recreational activities for cost reasons." And this is where the foundation comes in with its work: as a reliable partner and faithful companion, the institution gives a supporting hand and financial assistance to daycare centers, primary schools, and lower and intermediate secondary schools in socially disadvantaged neighborhoods within Braunschweig. Projects are for example swimming courses or forest adventure days as well as new sporting activities to be offered in existing facilities. In doing so, Rimatzki and her team also rely on local expertise and the professional judgment of the funding recipients. "The continuity and quality of the support are important to us," says Rimatzki, explaining what it is that counts in the specific practice, the nitty-gritty work, of the foundation. "The familiar shotgun approach, the indiscriminate scattering of funds, is not effective here. We prefer our support to be lasting rather than occasional. Nor do we do everything ourselves either: we also sponsor the day-to-day work of the youth welfare support organizations, for example. Very valuable work is often being done there, effort that goes unnoticed by the public."
What counts for us in our numerous support initiatives is quality and sustainability.
True to the foundation's motto "As for the future, the task is not to foresee it, but to enable it" from the French children's author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, we see ourselves less as a mere donor, but rather as an enabler, as an empowering force. Rimatzki is especially pleased that the ideals of the foundation are now so actively supported by a large proportion of the workforce. The employees are involved with self-initiated fundraising campaigns and a strong commitment to help voluntarily and in an honorary capacity. And since members of the current management board and the works council of Volkswagen Financial Services AG are also represented on the board of trustees, the foundation's decision-making body, there is no reason whatsoever why "Foundation – Our Children in Braunschweig" will not be continuing its successful work in the years to come.