An occasional kebab “Berlin style”, the rent for a room in a flat share, a second-hand bike to sprint from campus to campus - students have some basic needs which they need to be able to cover. The question is how to pay for everything. Many students finance their studies doing part-time jobs, while some get BAföG or are supported by parents or guardians. Very few students are aware of the option of funding their studies with a Deutschlandstipendium scholarship.
A new MInitiative seeks to change this. The initiative has been set up as a registered charity by students studying in the Digital Media and Technology programs at Technische Universität Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin. Initiative member Manuel Kowol was himself a Deutschlandstipendium scholarship holder. He was so impressed by the simple and unbureaucratic program that he wanted to persuade his fellow students to take advantage of it: “You don’t have to write a long letter or fill out a complicated form. Just submit a simple application and see if you get chosen. And it isn’t just about getting the best grades; things like your commitment to social causes also play a decisive role,” he explains. Out of this desire to encourage more students to apply, the idea developed within the initiative to raise money for a Deutschlandstipendium scholarship for a student from the Digital Media and Technology programs.
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The scholarship holder receives 300 euros per month for one year. This represents a considerable financial boon to help pay for a few simple pasta dishes, lecture materials or a train ticket home. The Deutschlandstipendium program is unique in that every euro donated is doubled. Fundraising initiatives only have to provide half of the money required to finance a scholarship. Currently a donation of 1800 euros funds a scholarship, with the remaining 1800 provided by the federal government.
The student initiative receives organizational support from the TU Berlin Career Service. The Career Service manages the donations and liaises with the Deutslandstipendium independent selection committee. Sponsors can also request a donation certificate for contributions over 200 euros.
“Last year we were able to finance a scholarship for one student. This year we have set a benchmark of two scholarships,” explains Kowol. Last year, most of the money was raised through fundraising discussions within the universities and from within the private circles of the MInitiative members. This year, however, students in the Digital Media and Technology programs have come up with a new project: A specially designed webshop where anyone wishing to contribute can donate pre-determined sums of money to categories such as coffee to go, meals at the Indian canteen in the Math Building or a crate of beer for a party. This makes it possible to see what students need and what can be covered by a donation. Scholarship holders are however free to decide for themselves how they spend the money.
The favorite category in the webshop - perhaps not surprising given the philanthropic nature of the project - is an invitation to dinner.
Perhaps you too would like to support the MInitiative and help fund students. You can visit the webshop here.