ERSTE Foundation evolved from the Erste Österreichische Spar-Casse in 2003. In 1819, this savings bank association opened the first bank in Vienna for individuals who previously had not been able to provide for their future themselves.
We have inherited this commitment from our founders. We develop social infrastructures that encourage people and help them take charge of their lives. This balance of social and individual responsibility is an exciting challenge for us, which we deal with in every aspect of our work, using sometimes daring strategies.
As an active foundation, we develop our own projects within the framework of three programmes: Social Development, Culture and Europe. At the same time, we are open to ideas proposed by others. We constantly aim to find a balance between long-term development strategies and their implementation by using region-based knowledge. At the ERSTE Foundation Library, this knowledge is preserved for the future and is publicly accessible.
We believe in the concept of a common Europe. After 1989, a divided continent grew together again. ERSTE Foundation focuses its work on the cultural region of Central and South Eastern Europe. We support social participation and civil society engagement; we aim to bring people together and disseminate knowledge of the recent history of a region, where the Schengen area and the European Union have established new dividing lines, but have also given rise to new hopes and expectations.
We put little stock in rash measures and try not to allow ourselves to be satisfied with short-term successes. We aim to have an enduring impact and place emphasis on interdisciplinary and transnational cooperation, by promoting a culture of listening and collaborative work when identifying problems and developing solutions.