The non-profit Freudenberg Foundation was founded in 1984. In the year of foundation and in subsequent years, members of the Freudenberg family transferred shares of their partners’ capital and other partners’ funds in the family company Freudenberg & Co. to the Freudenberg Foundation. The Freudenberg Foundation is therefore a company partner – albeit with no voting rights. The Freudenberg Foundation has an annual income of approximately 1.75 million Euros from these funds and other donations, which it can use for its projects. The Freudenberg Foundation is chiefly active in Germany, although it also supports some projects abroad.
Its statutes give the Freudenberg Foundation a very broadly defined aim: to promote science, the humanities and education, as well as strengthening peaceful coexistence in society and culture. The Freudenberg Foundation concentrates on four areas:
- The integration of migrant families and cultural minorities into a society that has become an immigrant society, and warding off hostile and discriminatory reactions encountered by these groups;
- The promotion of democratic culture, the prerequisite for peaceful social coexistence. The focus here is on projects that encourage democratic learning and responsibility in schools and communities, as well as fighting against extremist influences, particularly right-wing extremism, in young people’s social environments;
- The support of young people, particularly the socially disadvantaged, encountering difficulties between school and working life;
- The re-integration of the psychologically ill into working life and the working environment and creating an awareness of their problems.
The work of the Freudenberg Foundation concentrates on children and young people. All projects focus on their sense of belonging, of feeling needed in society and developing existing and new skills. The Freudenberg Foundation becomes active when there is a practical need for action or where there is scientific motivation. Examples include young people with a migrant background who cannot find training, children with inadequate German language skills who cannot cope in school, right-wing youth groups with a public profile, the founders of small commercial businesses who cannot find support from existing institutions, or schools wishing to make a contribution to solving problems that go beyond their usual role.
The Freudenberg Foundation invests in those areas where state initiatives are missing. Its goal is to develop, promote and propagate programme models that can be adapted to other situations. The Freudenberg Foundation sees itself as an active foundation running its own projects, but is also interested in activities that have been developed externally. Most projects involve cooperation with other foundations and trusts, as well as government or community institutions.