Social Development

We encourage the development of fairer and stronger societies, where nobody is left behind. We have 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. Our activities create fair prospects for people in difficult social conditions and situations of extreme need with regard to education and participation.

Children from KomenskýFond project in Esztergom - who said learning has to be serious? Photo by Aleksandra Pawloff

We champion equal rights for all kinds of minorities and disadvantaged individuals and our initiatives enable participation in the cultural and economic progress of the societies in question.

Our research and development department analyses social transformation with the aim of shaping productive processes of change. How do structural discriminations, social differences and poverty traps arise? How can we understand social change and help implement powerful solutions at an early stage? A laboratory investigating the rules of social development.

Programme Social Development TEAM


  • Ursula Dechant
    Project Coordinator
    T: +43 (0)50100 - 15430
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    Ursula Dechant

    Project Coordinator
    T:+43 (0)50100 - 15430
    email

    Ursula's motto is that happiness is not a state to arrive in, but a manner of travelling. Well, certainly she has done plenty of the latter. While born and raised in Austria, Ursula has lived and worked all over the map - literally! Luxembourg, Grenoble, Paris, Athens have proven to be a valuable detour to finally arrive at ERSTE Foundation in 2005.
  • Barbora Orlíková
    Regional Project Coordinator
    T: +43(0)50100 - 15403
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    Barbora Orlíková

    Regional Project Coordinator
    T:+43(0)50100 - 15403
    email

    Barbora has certainly mastered the art of commuting! She lives in Bratislava and works in Vienna. Maybe it is the fact that she studied Psychology at the university that helps always keep her calm even in stressful situations. Since 2013, she has been Project Manager for ERSTE Foundation´s Social Development Programm. Barbora first joined the team of ERSTE Foundation in 2012 as Project Assistant of the Culture Programm. Previously, she had worked at ZONE Media, a film production company based in Vienna.
  • Franz Karl Prüller
    Senior Advisor to the Board
    T: +43 (0)50100 - 15439
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    Franz Karl Prüller

    Senior Advisor to the Board
    T:+43 (0)50100 - 15439
    email

    Since 2016 Franz Karl Prüller is Senior Advisor of the Board of ERSTE Foundation. Before joining ERSTE Foundation, where he has been director of the Social Development Programme from 2005 until 2013, Member of the Board from 2012 until 2016 and its charman from 2015 to 2016, he had worked at Caritas Austria for 17 years. For a period of nine years, he was Secretary General in charge of international programmes and the project department. During this time he represented Caritas Austria on the executive boards of Caritas International is and Europa and was chairman of the charita­ble foundation Neighbour in Need for three years. Prior to 1996 he was in charge of Cari­tas’ Central and Eastern European programme and disaster relief programme. During his time working on the CEE programme from 1989 to 1993, he helped re-build Caritas organisations in the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria, among others.

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  • Alina Șerban
    Project Manager
    T: +43 (0)50100 - 15416
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    Alina Șerban

    Project Manager
    T:+43 (0)50100 - 15416
    email

    Alina loves swimming - mostly in Vienna's multicultural soup. Interested in culture, arts, politics, literature and music, she is currently a PhD student in Sociology, focusing on Action Research and Performative Social Sciences. Besides her career with the Foundation since 2010, Alina also works as theatre trainer with the Theatre of the Oppressed method.
  • Nicole Traxler
    Project Manager
    T: +43 (0)50100 - 15429
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    Nicole Traxler

    Project Manager
    T:+43 (0)50100 - 15429
    email

    There ‘ain’t no mountain high enough’ for Nicole, the studied economist. She likes mountains and challenges as well as people and their ideas. This attitude certainly helped her and her team in bringing the Social Impact Award in Austria to life. As a coach, she also supported projects in developing their ideas for SIA or Get Active. Later, Nicole was responsible for launching the ERSTE Foundation NGO Academy in cooperation with the WU Wien. Before joining the ERSTE Foundation in 2012, Nicole volunteered at the Americas Cup and the Euro 2008 and worked for UNICEF in Valencia. Anything else? Yes, what Nikki also likes is a good steak.

41.77%
Social Development projects account for 41.77 % from the total of projects funded by ERSTE Foundation during 2005 – 2015.

“We are at an inflection point and it is the actions we take and the actions we do not take over the next years that will affect whether social entrepreneurship remains a promise or whether we are able to create varieties within capitalism.”

Johanna Mair