2021 Award

The Commitment Awards 2021 for outstanding social and sustainable project ideas all over the world went to three empowering projects in Ecuador, Pakistan and Brazil on June 17, 2021.

The tenth edition of the Commitment Award Ceremony took place entirely online, with contributions from Erfurt, Düsseldorf, Berlin, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Peru, and Chile. Celebrating the decennial of the award, celebrities from politics, culture and sports joined the event.

Katja Riemann, German actress and human rights activist, held an inspiring keynote. Although candid about the frustration with hate-mongers often being more visible than committed people working hard for a positive future, Riemann motivated applicants and the audience to carry on with the latter. “We need to work together if our lives are dear to us, or if not our own, then the lives of known or unknown kids and unborn humans on this earth.”

Before the awards 2021 were presented, the winners of 2020 gave accounts on their project progress. A warning app against domestic violence has been launched in Chile, children in the Andean areas of Peru have received educational programs in their mother tongue Quechua via radio, and an underprivileged neighborhood in Yangon, Myanmar, was about to receive a playground and community meeting point, before the military coup made the further implementation impossible. As Katrin Göring-Eckardt, leader of the Green party in the German Bundestag, said, “The projects that are being presented here today can serve as examples to us as politicians. With clever ideas and selfless commitment, you are creating a world with greater equity and solidarity.”

Commitment Award ambassador and U23 triathlon world champion Sophia Saller delivered the prizes to the winning teams in a remarkable way: By swimming, cycling and running to the winning teams.

First, she swam to Mercedes Bustan. Her project “Education for Future is an Ecuadorian program in which disadvantaged children gain the opportunity to attend an eight-month English language program, opening doors for future education and independence that would otherwise be closed for these children.

Then, Sophia Saller cycled to Athar Farooq and Nafisa Islam Fariba. Their project “Right Skills – Bright Future” shall empower women in Pakistan through digital education, creating a learning environment in which women can engage their entrepreneurial and freelancing skills, enabling them to develop the tools they need to break barriers.

Finally, Sophia Saller ran to Dayane Rodrigues and Natália Koto and handed over the third Commitment Award, which has been endowed by the Town & Country Foundation. The project “You Got This!” prepares students from low income families in Brazil for an admittance exam into a free high school technical program and adds a mentoring program to build up the participants’ resilience. It helps to create opportunities where they may not have otherwise existed.

Thuringia’s Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow wished all winners the best of luck and hoped that the award would inspire many people to get involved. “If every one of us sets out to make everything around us a little better every day, then it would be good for all of us,” he said.

The recurrent theme of all winning projects is education. As Ina Scharrenbach, Minister for Regional Identity, Communities and Local Government, Building and Gender Equality of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia, summarized, “Education is key. The better someone’s education, the better are their chances to participate in the political and social processes of a country.” This theme was also picked up by Parsaa and Makeen with whom the Commitment Award community remembered their late father, Sultan Munadi, an Afghan journalist and Brandt School student who died after having been taken as hostage by Taliban forces. He exemplified commitment for his people. “The plan we have drawn for our future is to make my father’s dreams come true, which is to serve people through wisdom and enlightenment. We have been inspired by our father’s dreams.”

The Engagementpreis-Stiftung in Düsseldorf and the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt have been awarding the Commitment Award to outstanding social and sustainable project ideas all over the world – but with a connection to the Brandt School and Erfurt – since 2012. Each year, a jury of independent experts selects the winning teams who use the prize money to implement their projects.