Press Room

Media Release

Budapest Kicks off Central European Dialogue on Education

12. January 2012

ACES is a cooperation of ERSTE Foundation with Interkulturelles Zentrum. The initiative was launched in 2006 with a project competition for school partnerships. “The aim of ACES is to promote intercultural dialogue between young people and generate valuable incentives for further development and networking in the education sector,” explains Knut Neumayer, director of ERSTE Foundation’s Programme Europe. With this in mind, ACES actively promotes exchange between countries in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, and between EU Member and non-Member states. In recent years, the number of partner countries has almost doubled. Mari Steindl, Managing Director of Interkulturelles Zentrum, describes the initiative’s growth: “The project started with eight partner countries. Twelve participated in the second project competition in 2008, and in 2009 we were able to get another three new partners on board: Bulgaria, Kosovo and the Republic of Moldova.” Since the ACES network was founded, some 400 schools and almost 15,000 pupils have participated in the project competition.

In addition to pupils and teachers, the four-day academy also welcomes representatives from partner-country education ministries, representatives of NGOs from the youth and education sector, experts and artists. Together, they discuss strategies and opportunities for young people to actively participate in schools and municipalities, and at national and international levels. “We want to enlarge the dialogue on education between Central European schools and the respective representatives of administration, science and research,” explains Mari Steindl, Managing Director of Interkulturelles Zentrum.

Schools interested in getting involved have another month to register for the third ACES competition series. The main theme of the current ACES project competition is, “Have your say! Young Europeans shape their future”. It is about participation and active citizenship of young people. Schools must submit their project ideas by 30 April 2009.

Academy of Central European Schools (ACES) – Facts & Figures
Established: 2006
Organising parties: ERSTE Foundation and Interkulturelles Zentrum
Partner countries (as of March 2009): Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia
Participants in ACES competitions so far (as of March 2009):
390 schools; 2,070 teachers; 14,255 pupils

Current project competition for schools with pupils aged 12 to 17:
Topic: “Have your say! Young Europeans shape their future”
Submission deadline: 30 April 2009
Further information:

ERSTE Foundation, Communications
Maribel Königer
phone +43 (0)50100-15453, e-mail:
Jovana Trifunović
phone +43 (0)50100-15844, e-mail:
Interkulturelles Zentrum, Communications
Barbara Hämmerle
phone +43 (0)1/586 75 44 -12, e-mail:

ERSTE Foundation
ERSTE Foundation is active in the Central and South Eastern European region. Together with its partners it creates a hive of activity for social good. Established in 2003, the Foundation began its work two years later by developing the three programmes: Social Affairs, Culture, and Europe. Being the legal successor of the 190 year old “Erste oesterreichische Spar-Casse”, the first Austrian savings bank, ERSTE Foundation is the major shareholder of Erste Group and therefore one of the largest institutions of this kind in Central- and South Eastern Europe. Its two commitments are based on historical roots: ERSTE Foundation safeguards the future of Erste Group as an independent company and reinvests its profits in activities that promote the common good.
Further information:

Interkulturelles Zentrum
Since 1987 the independent non-profit association Interkulturelles Zentrum (IZ) has been promoting intercultural education and community integration in Austria, international youth work and cross-border cooperation between schools. Its well-known projects such as ACES, YouthNET SEE and YouthNET CIS foster intercultural dialogue between the countries of the European Union and Eastern and South Eastern Europe. The IZ was awarded the World Aware Award for Global Education by the Council of Europe in 2000 and in 2005. On 1 January 2007 Interkulturelles Zentrum became the Austrian National Agency for the EU’s “Youth in Action” programme. The Vienna-based association currently employs a workforce of more than 20 and is managed by a voluntary expert committee and a salaried board of directors.
Further information: