About Us

By Young People for Young People
We are Germany's largest aid organization managed by young people. In five Southeast European countries, we carry out youth, education, and reconciliation work for children and adolescents. In Germany, we encourage civic engagement and inform about problems of young people in the Balkans.

Big Goals, Small Steps

Our Vision: All children and young people in the Balkans enjoy equal access to education, lead a life free from poverty and discrimination and engage actively for the benefit of their society. By ourselves we cannot realize this vision. But: If pupils of different ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina establish a joint student council, if Roma children from extremely poor neighborhoods are able to attend secondary school, if disillusioned young people without vocational training recognise and facilitate their talents, if bored and frustrated youths find a place to learn, to play and simply be youthful, then we have achieved our goal and,
thus, come one step closer to realizing our vision.

Helping People To Help Themselves

Our motto is: Helping people to help themselves. Young people should be able to improve their situation themselves. We empower them to take charge of their future: they improve their own living situation, help peers in their environment and fight for a democratic and peaceful society. "Helping people to help themselves" also means that in the long run our projects will become financially autonomous. This is achieved by supporting them in the acquisition of independent means.

For the Balkans since 1992

In 1992, a small number of students from Bad Kreuznach gathered supplies and, by private cars, transported them to the refugee camps that were established in various places along the Croatian coast. During the Yugoslav wars, immediate humanitarian aid was on our agenda. After the war we rebuilt kindergartens and schools and enhanced peace and reconciliation projects. Today, Schüler Helfen Leben is mainly engaged in the fields of youth work, social inclusion and education.


The Social Day: Each Year, 100,000 Students Participate

Since 1998, the Social Day has been organised by Schüler Helfen Leben and is the largest youth campaign in Germany. The principle is simple: students swap their school environment with a job for one day. They paint their neighbor's fence, mow the Federal Chancellor's lawn or take over the job of a radio host for one day: imagination has no limits. On the Social Day, younger students participate in group activities such as sponsored runs. Wages are donated by the students to support the SHL projects for children and adolescents.

A Unique Project Selection: Hundreds of Young People Vote

Schüler Helfen Leben's project selection is unique: each year on Social Day, 250 students from participating schools get together to decide which new project will be funded. The young people spend one weekend together in order to hear about the social, political and economic situation in the Balkan countries. Additionally, they are informed about current projects, as well as the projects up for election. Previously, these projects were handed in after announcing an open Call for Proposals for organisations in the Balkans. An expert committee of the foundation consisting of youths then reviews the applications prior to the project selection meeting.

Award Winning: Students Donate Over 20 Million Euro

With donations totaling more than 20 million Euros, we were able to implement more than 130 projects in the areas of education, reconciliation and youth work. For our work we have received the Westfälischer Friedenspreis 2002 (Westphalian Peace Prize) and in 2010 the Deutscher Engagementpreis (Engagement Award). In addition, we were awarded the Bundesverdienstmedaille (Medal of Merit), and in 2007 were given the title of a "Place of Ideas in the Land of Ideas".

Wahl I

Die Mitarbeiter des Projekts arbeiten aber nicht nur in dem Zentrum, sondern fahren regelmäßig zu den vielen Roma-Siedlungen und beraten die Menschen unter anderem in Gesundheitsfragen.

zwei-kameraden 0003298

sozialertag merkel


1 Gruppenfoto ohne Beschriftungen zugeschnitten

SHL-Kosova 8 sm

IMG 5317 sm

The Foundation Schüler Helfen Leben: The Projects in the Balkans Are in Good Hands 

In 2002, the Foundation Schüler Helfen Leben was formed. It was the first foundation in Germany which was established by students. Part of the proceeds of the annual Social Day merges into the foundation endowment, so with the interest income we can hedge our foreign projects on a long term basis. With our partners and sponsors, we also implement innovative programs and projects, which cannot be financed by our own funds. With regard to the use of our funds, transparency is our highest priority. We use the funds entrusted to us sparingly and effectively and align our reports to the guidelines of the German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI). In the Berlin office of the foundation, seven dedicated employees take care of our foreign projects, our international volunteer program, as well as public relations and fundraising. Some of the projects are carried out with own staff on site, others are carried out with cooperation partners. The work of staff and volunteers is supported by a juvenile board of trustees. Assistance is given by an advisory board, in which prominent supporters participate.

Inspire Young People in Germany: The Association Schüler Helfen Leben

The association Schüler Helfen Leben consists of young people from all over Germany. We currently have approximately 200 members. The projects located in Germany are coordinated by seven young people serving a voluntary social year. The board consists of students, pupils and former volunteers. Essential in our work are assets that are involved in reporting, as for example in giving school presentations about our work.

Projects in Five Balkan Countries

Currently, we operate and promote a total of 15 projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia, Albania and Kosovo. These are located in the areas of education, engagement promotion, social inclusion of disadvantaged groups, as well as peace and reconciliation work: In addition to youth centers, we also support projects for children with disabilities, training centers and street work projects for Roma. Moreover, we promote civic engagement.

A Project for Syrian Refugees

Since 2013 we have expanded our project region towards the Middle East where the Syrian civil war has been raging for two years already. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries, thus far exceeding the capacities of the refugee camps. Especially children and adolescents have had traumatizing experiences and many have not been in school for months or even years. In two Jordanian refugee camps Schüler Helfen Leben will fund a program to teach 600 Syrian children and adolescents coping and resilience skills. Through this measure we hope to sustain the Syrian civil society that one day will have to rebuild their home country.

Contact Details

Stiftung Schüler Helfen Leben
Axel-Springer-Str. 40

10969 Berlin


Phone:  +49(0)30 308 316 97
Fax:  +49(0)30 308 316 99