In 2003, ERSTE Foundation evolved out of the Erste Oesterreichische Spar-Casse, the first Austrian savings bank. Currently, ERSTE Foundation is the main shareholder of Erste Group. The foundation invests part of its dividends in the development of societies in Austria and Central and South Eastern Europe. It supports social participation and civil-society engagement; it aims to bring people together and disseminate knowledge of the recent history of a region that has been undergoing dramatic changes since 1989. As an active foundation, it develops its own projects within the framework of three programmes: Social Development, Culture and Europe.
To invest in lasting structures and relationships; to reinforce individual and organisational autonomy, to cooperate on an equal footing and take joint responsibility for the common good.
Furthermore, the foundation firmly believes that a prosperous community provides the basis for social, individual and economic development.
Austria, Central and South Eastern Europe
The foundation is active in three key areas:
• Social Development
The foundation encourages the development of fairer and stronger societies, where nobody is left behind. It has developed two complementary strategies of social intervention: the integration of individuals and groups who live on the margins of society and research into social change. The foundation's activities create fair prospects for people in difficult social conditions and situations of extreme need with regard to education and participation.
The foundation believes in culture as a driving force for a democratic society and in its ability to forge links between diverse linguistic and geographical regions. Culturally speaking, the countries of Central and South Eastern Europe are a highly diverse area which shares a past of enforced political conformity. The foundation offers a platform to reflect on the ambivalence between a newly acquired, regional identity, the centrifugal forces of nationalist fragmentation and common monocultural historical experiences.
ERSTE Stitung promotes the process of European integration by providing a platform for exchanging ideas, knwoledge and initiatives. The foundation would like Europeans to live according to common values, to freely share ideas, to work together and to learn from one another. Its work thus focuses on establishing a lively culture of dialogue. In an environment insisting on differences, the foundation enables people to experience feelings of solidarity, connection and cooperation.