About us

As a centre for civic engagement, we promote, support and advise citizens, non-profit organisations and companies to work together locally.

As an independent foundation, we motivate all actors in the community to contribute time and money to improving the quality of life in Jena in the long term.

Together with non-profits, companies, politics, and administration, we create engagement-friendly structures and actively shape our city through our projects.

Ask not what your city can do for you, but what you can do for your city!

Loosely based on John F. Kennedy

The community foundation in Jena and the Saale-Holzland region

The fact that there is a community foundation in Jena is largely thanks to Doris Voll. She was captivated by the idea of setting up a foundation with many individual donors from the citizenry instead of waiting for a wealthy patron or a large bequest. With her incomparable manner and her numerous contacts, she implemented the idea for her city and the Saale-Holzland district, which she had met in Gütersloh. This is how one of the first community foundations in eastern Germany came into being in Jena.

On February 20, 2002, the founding of the Bürgerstiftung Zwischenraum took place in the Spiegelsaal of the traditional Hotel "Schwarzer Bär" in Jena in front of 80 people. 30 founding donors from the Jena-Saale-Holzland region - as well as people from outside the region with ties to their homeland - donated their personal share of the initial assets of the community foundation amounting to approx. 42,000 euros.

It was Doris Voll who applied to the city of Jena for the establishment of a volunteer agency. In autumn 2002, after the decision in favour of the community foundation, Heidi Scheller came on board and is still in charge of the volunteer agency today. Based on the idea of stimulating civic engagement in Jena, the foundation initiated numerous projects in the following years. Particularly successful projects include the NAHbarn project against loneliness in old age; the Junior Volunteer Agency; reading mentors in kindergartens; the reading mentors and, since 2011, the treasure lifters.

In 2011, the "Thousand Deeds" association was founded by the community foundation to continue projects such as the reading mentors, NAHbarn and Co-Pilot.

"Ten years of good" - On 20 March 2012, the community foundation celebrated its tenth anniversary in the festival hall of the Jentower with numerous guests of honour such as Christine Lieberknecht, Christoph Matschie and Albrecht Schröter.

With the move to the new premises in Unterlauengasse 3 in summer 2012, the foundation moved even closer to the city centre and thanks to our partner, jenwohnen GmbH, we can be reached even better by the citizens.

From 2011-16, the Treasure Lifter Project with its associated fundraising campaign and funding from the Drosos Foundation shaped the work of the community foundation. Established annual events such as Volunteer Day (since 2004), Student Volunteer Day (since 2005) or the Auction of Priceless Opportunities (since 2005) have been joined during this time by the Stifterlauf (since 2013) and the SaalePUTZ (since 2015). 

Another foundation highlight in 2014 was the donation of the Trüperwiese to us by the community of heirs. This opens up a broad field of activity for the foundation around the topics of care, neighbourhood and environmental education. Also new in 2014: the cultural advisory office at the community foundation.

The year 2015 brings with it new fields of activity and a wave of commitment with the "long summer of migration". We launch the projects "Building Bridges" and  "Ankommenspaten" and have a strong focus on the topic of integration. In 2017, we receive the Active Citizenship Award for this. Also new in 2015: The community foundation becomes the location for the "wellcome" project to support young families.

Finally, the year 2020 brings many innovations, with the start of the Interim Usage Agency, but also the worldwide Corona pandemic, which really shakes up our areas of responsibility: we are now the mask distribution point, coordinate neighbourhood assistance and take care of lonely seniors, while at the same time we have to cancel a large part of our events or move them to the digital world. In 2021, our volunteer agency will take a big step towards digitalisation by setting up the engagement platform www.engagiert-in-jena.de.

Our ideals

  • We stand for an open and democratic civil society, for diversity and tolerance. We are committed to our Basic Law, to human dignity, respect and diversity.
  • We believe that volunteering is a unifying element between nationalities, cultures, religions and social classes. Therefore, we welcome all people who want to actively participate in our city - regardless of gender, origin, descent and skin colour, of faith, social position or sexual identity.
  • We trust in our fellow human beings and stand for cohesion in our society. Solidarity and willingness to help are our top priorities.
  • We are committed to the dignity and fundamental rights of all people as the basis of our constitution, as well as to the civil rights of freedom and participation, which are indispensable for a living, democratic community.
  • We want to bring people together who want to help shape our democratic society on the basis of these fundamental values. For us, this also means that we do not support discriminatory, anti-democratic, racist and exclusionary positions of any kind.