Campus Rütli

Berlin, Germany

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.


City information

Size and population development
3.670.000 (December 31, 2016)

Population composition
12,6% non-German, the majority come from (in order) Turkey, Poland, Italy, Serbia and Kosovo, Russia

Main functions
Capital City of Germany and one of the 16 German states

Main industries / business
Service industries, tourism, higher education, creative industries, IT and media

Political structure
The Senate of Berlin is the executive body governing the city of Berlin. The Senate is composed of the Governing Mayor of Berlin and up to ten Senators appointed by the Governing Mayor.

Administrative structure
Berlin is governed by the Senate Government and 12 District Governments.

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Background and objectives

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
Financing and resources

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.

Results and impacts

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
Barriers and challenges

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.

Lessons learned and transferability

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