Campus Rütli

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Main actors

Local Government, City Government, National Government, NGO / Philanthropy

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Project area

Neighborhood or district

Icons use case study duration


Ongoing since 2007/09

The Campus Rütli is both a concept and a place for promoting the education and social inclusion of underpriviledged children and adolescents

The Campus Rütli is located in the district of Neukölln in Berlin, one of the city’s social hotspots. In 2006, the Rütli School’s teachers decided to write an open letter to unveil the prevalence of daily violence and appalling learning conditions at the school. In few years, however, thanks to its committed teaching staff and the financial support of foundations and the Government, the school has turned into a role model.

At one single location, the Campus Rütli brings together a range of different facilities, including a school, two Kindergarten, a Youth club, a workshop for training activities and meeting sites. It offers a wide-range of activities so as to foster the integration of children and their parents, such as language courses with certificates. New infrastructure has been built and its coordination has been improved. The Campus Rütli tends to narrowing the gap between the institutions, giving young people the opportunity to shape their school careers in a more coherent way.

Since the concept’s announcement in 2007, the Campus has achieved many positive results. It contributed to changing the district’s image, thus attracting new population strata. Consequently, the area surrounding the school will not be eligible to take part in the National Development Program by 2016, bringing about the challenge of its financial sustainability by then.

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Berlin, Germany

Size and population development
The population registered for the municipality of Berlin in 2017 was 3,613,500, making it the second most populous city in the European Union. The larger metropolitan area has around 5 million people living in 1,347 square kilometres, giving it a population density of around 15,000 people per square kilometre—similar to Mexico City or Tokyo.

Population composition
It has been estimated that up to 30 percent of Berlin’ s population are of foreign origin. The foreigners originate from other parts of Europe—such as Serbia, Croatia, Poland, Russia, Spain, Bosnian, Bulgarian, and Italian—as well as from countries outside of Europe, such as Turkey, Palestine, Iran, Syria, Egypt and Ghana. The largest non-native population comes from Turkey; in the year of 2010, there were more than 100,000 Turkish registered as inhabitants of Berlin.

Main functions
Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany, as well as one of the nation’s 16 states. It is situated approximately 112 miles (180 km) south of the Baltic Sea and lies in the wide glacial valley of the Spree River, which runs through the centre of the city. The city extends over an area of 891.7 square kilometres and stands at an average altitude of 34 meters above sea level. After the reunification of the two Berlins in 1990, Germany began a process to centralize the capital to Berlin (replacing Bonn, the former capital of West Germany). Since then, Berlin is the place where the German House of Representatives and the German Bundestag hold elections. However, it wasn’t until 2001 that the Bundestag and the government of Berlin were fully established under the same roof. Berlin is also a city of great cultural significance, which is evident if one considers the amount of historical landmarks that tie the city’s history to its multiple overlapping pasts. Some of the most important landmarks include the Holocaust memorial (inaugurated in 2003), remnants of the Berlin Wall (taken down on the 9th of November 1989), the Reichstag Building (which dates to 1884). As the capital of Germany, Europe’s most populous and economically powerful country, Berlin is also the centre of, culture, politics, media and science in the country and serves as a European hub for air and rail traffic.

Main industries / business
As the 4th largest economy of the world, Germany participates of a wide array of industries with a famous efficiency. In Berlin one may find strong state-owned enterprises, like the Deustche Bahn (the railway), which employs the largest amount of general population (more than 20,000 people). Other companies that thrive in Berlin are: the Deustche Post (DHL), the technology company Siemens, the automotive manufacturer BMW, and the telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom. Hence, one may assume that Berlin specializes in the secondary and tertiary sectors of economy. Tourism brings more than 135 million visitors to the city (which include day-time visitors as well as overnight ones). Apart from other student cities in Germany like Köln and Munich, Berlin houses some of the most well-reputed universities in the world: the Freire Universität Berlin and the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, with more than 30,000 students each.

Sources for city budget
Berlin draws its budget for public expenditure largely from taxes, transfers received, fees, fines, and operating revenues. This money is federally approved and spent in such a way that it can also be used in the form of funding for companies, not only to comply with the provision of quality public services.

Political structure
Berlin serves both as a city with a local government and as capital of Germany. In regard to the latter, it houses the Bundesregierung (Federal government), the Bundestag (Federal parliament) and the Bundesrat (the States’ chamber of Parliament). Each of the 16 states of Germany has representation in Berlin. It is governed by the Berlin Senate which is comprised of 10 senators and the Governing Mayor. Also, the embassies of other countries from around the world are housed in the city. The 16 states (Laender) have a similar standing to the federal government in respect to most issues.

Administrative structure
Berlin is administrated by the Senate and its 12 districts or boroughs. The Senate is the city’s central administration, in charge of city planning, public policy, and regulation of public and private spheres. The district administrations decentralize some public functions, with reasonable difference between the various localities.

The Campus Rütli is located in Neukölln, one of Berlin’s social hotspots. In November 2008, the “Häussermann-Studie” warned about the rise of a parallel-society in that area. In fact, nearly 90% of the children of the Campus living there come from families with migration background.

The Campus Rütli’s project aims at countering usual misconceptions within the educational system for children living in difficult environments. Common reasons for their difficulties include:

  • Parents are not enough represented in educational structures
  • Transitions between schools represent a difficult gap for children
  • Existing educational structures are not connected sufficiently

The objective of the Campus Rütli’s major objective is breaking this scheme and implementing a network of supporting institutions. Therefore, the Campus intends to better involve parents regarding school issues and to bring together institutions responsible for the children’s overall development and integration.

The Campus Rütli’s guiding principles are:

  • Education of professionals working hand in glove with parents to determine the most appropriate choices for children during their school career
  • Cultural diversity is being considered as an opportunity; Social integration is facilitated by education
  • The Campus Rütli is being deeply integrated with its social environment

Considering the low level of economic and social indicators, in 2003, the Reuterquartier in Neukölln has been identified as a priority area (“Quartiersmanagement”), thus benefiting from additional financial and human resources to foster its development. From that year on, the new Quartiersmanagement-Team prioritized education and youth supportive measures in various domains, e. g. sports, music and health. Shortly after, the concept of “intercultural moderation as strategic intervention” has been implemented in four schools (including the Rütli school), therefore enhancing the presence of intercultural moderators.

From 2005 onwards, the idea of the Campus emerged among politicians and professionals.  In May 2007, the distritc’s mayor, Heinz Buschkowsky, together with the foundation “Zukunft Berlin” (Future Berlin), began to develop the strategy for the future Campus Rütli and its communication. Their common goal was to develop a strategy whose principles and solutions could be transferred to other crisis-ridden schools within the district of Neukölln.

The final version of the concept for the Campus Rütli has been approved in September 2007. Its main objective is the realization of a new and sustainable educational concept together with the creation of a common social area. The project has been officially presented in January 2008 and rapidly gained the interest of the media.  In November 2012, the inauguration of the “Quartiershall” was the first effort achieved within the framework of the new concept’s implementation.

The main principles of the concept are:

  • The school administration has the main say and gives direct orders to institutional cooperation and financing partners.
  • Definition of an embracing educational concept, valid for all classes and school types at the Campus. One of the Campus’s main pillars is its comprehensive school (“Gemeinschaftsschule”). At the Rütli Campus, children can complete their entire educational biography, from Kindergarten to professional training. Germany’s high-school diploma, the “Abitur”, is also an option for young people at the Campus.
  • New buildings have been constructed at the Campus site; some older ones have been renovated and extended in order to achieve more social space for the district and the campus.
  • Strong participatory integration of the inhabitants in the process.
  • Internal and external public relations work.

The main partners of the Campus Rütli include:

  • The Senate Department for City Development and the Environment
  • The Senate Department for Education, Youth and Science
  • The Borough Authority of Neukölln
  • The „Quartiersmanagement“ Reuterplatz
  • Education Partners: Ein km2 Bildung, Lokaler Bildungsverbund, Reuterkiez, Kiez AG
  • Foundations: Freudenberg Stiftung, Heinz und Heide Dürr Stiftung, Karl-Konrad-und-Ria-Groeben-Stiftung, Stiftung Zukunft Berlin & S. Fischer Stiftung

Through its “Ein Quadratkilometer Bildung” the Freundberger foundation financially supported the concept’s implementation.

The Campus Rütli is located in an area benefiting from the Federal Government’s financial support. Social improvements within the area of the school will lead to the phasing out of this federal support by 2016. Until then, the campus has to become financially independent. 

From 2006 to 2013, the Senate Department for City Development and the Environment in Berlin provided 6 Million Euros for the construction of the new Campus’ hall.

Upcoming construction works planned for 2015 will require an additional amount of 32 Million Euros.

In just a few years, the campus Rütli achieved positive results at the school level, and was a driver for change in the borough. The concept improved educational opportunities for children and gave more possibilities for families to socially integrate. It contributed to change the district’s image.

The main features of this changing social environment include:

  • Less early school leavers than in the past
  • Increasing number of registration, including children from German families
  • New educational offers and emergence of high-school graduates at the school

In 2013, 24 students passed the German high-school diploma at the Campus Rütli. Some students were good at the school level, but many others have difficulties within the school system. The main reasons for these difficulties are their domestic environments, an insufficient skill level in mathematics and sciences and a high turn-over of professors at the school in the past.

The main factors which have contributed to the success of the school’s transformation process are: 

  • The strong commitment of teachers and head teachers, parents, local politicians. Problems always have been considered as challenges; solutions are implemented with commitment at the Campus
  • A network of supporting organizations (including foundations)
  • Usage of New ideas for a test-period of one year. Thus, parents and children  feared changing processes to a lesser extent
  • Public and media interest for the project; this interest helped gaining political and financial support for the Campus’s development
  • Constant monitoring and evaluation of the processes
  • Existence of management and control structures to find common and negotiated solutions; Presence of politicians, together with administration and civil society
  • Fostering synergies between all the stakeholders involved
  • Integration of the children and their parents in the processes of change and in the activities of the school

On the Map

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Want to know more about this project?
Contact our community manager.

Camille Toggenburger
Berlin, Germany

Camille Toggenburger

Individual | Community and Content Manager | urban sustainability exchange

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