Jacobs Foundation Seefeldquai 17 8034 Zürich Switzerland

Jacobs Foundation

The Jacobs Foundation is one of the world’s leading charitable foundations dedicated to facilitating innovations for children and youth. The Foundation was established in 1989 by Klaus J. Jacobs and his family in an effort to benefit future generations by providing young people with better opportunities for development. The Jacobs Foundation supports research and intervention of the highest quality leading to significant and vital outcomes for children and youth worldwide. The foundation promotes public dialogue by connecting people from the fields of science, policy, society and economy, creating platforms for discussion and raising awareness for the needs and opportunities to improve the living conditions of next generations. With its investment of € 200 million in the Jacobs University Bremen in Germany (2006) it set new standards in private funding in Europe’s Higher Education sector.


As an internationally active organization, the Jacobs Foundation wants to contribute to improving the development of current and future generations of young people to enable them to become socially responsible members of society. We are committed to recognizing and strengthening the individual potential of children and youth and to developing and expanding their vocational skills.
The goals of the Jacobs Foundation are to promote innovation in research and practice and to combine scientific findings with practical applications. In this regard, it is important to us that programs are evidence-based and achieve sustainable results. The foundation also wants to foster public dialogue and create networks to bring about social changes in the area of child and youth development.

Geographic Focus

International with regional focuses in Europe, Latin America and West Africa

Programme Areas

The foundation is active in the following areas:

• quality of home and centre-based early education
• enabling successful educational biographies
• life skills for employability of high-risk youth
• improving the livelihoods of children and youth in agricultural communities in West Africa

Quality of home and centre-based early education
Evidence shows that early education is an important predictor and precondition for later achievement. Jacobs Foundation, therefore, enables young children to acquire the necessary skills for successful transition into primary education.

Enabling successful educational biographies
Based on the assumption that local educational networks foster cohesion in a community and between generations, Jacobs Foundations supports the establishment of functional and effective educational networks. It, therefore, enables children to develop their potential and to accomplish a positive educational biography.

Life skills for employability of high-risk youth
Jacobs Foundation identifies, develops, implements and systematizes projects that enable young people from high-risk groups to acquire the necessary skills to integrate into the labour market.

Improving the livelihoods of children and youth in agricultural communities in West Africa
A vast majority of the world’s poor live in rural areas and lack access to education, employment, adequate nutrition, infrastructure and communication. Given the high level of poverty in rural areas in Western Africa, the improvement of living conditions for children and youth and their families is an essential prerequisite in order to enable them to integrate into their community and into society as a whole.

The foundation uses the following funding instruments and major investments:
• Programme and project funding
• Institutional funding
• Conferences
• Klaus J. Jacobs Awards
• Young Scholar Programs

Programme and project funding
Projects of the foundation build on evidence from cutting-edge research and lessons learnt from past interventions. At the same time, they respond to the concrete context and specific needs of the target groups. Effective and evidence-based social intervention is the ultimate aim. The foundation also supports innovative research projects in basic, applied, and rigorous intervention research in the field of child and youth development and related areas.

Institutional funding
Builds up critical mass mindful that sustainable research results need focused and concentrated resources. The foundation has a tradition of strategic investments in academic institutions: foremost, the long-term commitment to Jacobs University Bremen, but also to the Jacobs Centres in Bremen.

Provides time and space for excellent researchers through its annual international scientific conference at Marbach Castle, Germany. The goal is to assemble distinguished scientists from around the world and leading practitioners to present and discuss cutting-edge results about a particular aspect of productive youth development and their potential for implementation.

Klaus J. Jacobs Awards
In honour of its founder, the entrepreneur Klaus J. Jacobs, the foundation has awarded two annual prizes since 2009. Endowed with a total of CHF 1.2 million, the prizes recognise exceptional achievements in research and practice in the field of child and youth development. The Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize acknowledges scientific work of high social relevance; the Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Award recognizes exceptional commitment of institutions or individuals who put innovative solutions into practice.

Young Scholar Programs
Discovering and supporting the next generation of scientists, who represent the excellence of tomorrow, is of particular importance to the foundation. Building research capacities in child and youth development worldwide, particularly in the majority world, therefore is a priority. The foundation’s programmes for young scholars on doctoral and postdoctoral levels are offered through its partner organisations.

In addition, the foundation provides funding for proposals that are judged to be of high quality in terms of both content and structure that are broadly in line with the purpose of the foundation and that are dependent on external funding.

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