The Story of the Swarovski Foundation:
A Decade of Empowering Change
by Jakhya Rahman-Corey,
Director of the Swarovski Foundation
At its core, corporate philanthropy is about giving back to society and supporting causes that align with its ethical and business values. It’s about recognizing that businesses have a responsibility to use their resources and expertise to make the world a better place.
The Swarovski Foundation is rooted in the belief that we are more than just a grant-giving entity. We stand for something greater, and our purpose runs deeper than just being a funder.
We believe real impact comes from engaging in meaningful partnerships with organizations and communities that share your values and are working towards similar goals.
To achieve true impact, we have to be intentional in our philanthropic efforts.
We use our platform to advocate and seek to inspire others to take action, to create a better world, and to leave a lasting legacy of impact. Our role is to create meaningful change, and we are committed to using our resources to help those in need and support causes that align with our values. For us, this is not an obligation, it’s a responsibility that we take seriously.
10 years into the Swarovski Foundation, we are at a pivotal moment to pause and contemplate.
As we come to the end of our first decade, it has been a time of deep reflection for us at the Swarovski Foundation. We have considered what we have achieved over the past 10 years and are eager to build on this for the future.
Today, we stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the most influential and life-changing charities and organizations in the world. Through our collaborative efforts and our own signature programs, we are sowing the seeds for a sustainable future and actively working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations.
This journey has been filled with hard work, focus, and firm commitment. We owe it to those who have stood by us every step of the way, from our former leaders and charity partners to our Swarovski Foundation Board of Trustees, Swarovski Foundation team, Swarovski Group colleagues and Swarovski family.
Over the past 10 years, we have reached over 2 million people in 93 countries through 85 partnerships and 17 global emergencies, all in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. None of this would have been possible without the hard work and unwavering support of our partners, and for that, we are immensely grateful.
I am proud of what the Swarovski Foundation stands for and honored to showcase this through the release of our latest report, The Story of the Swarovski Foundation: A Decade of Empowering Change
We have a clear and powerful focus: promoting sustainable livelihoods through education to reduce inequality. This vision is at the heart of every partnership, collaboration, and initiative we undertake.
However, it’s not always easy to know whether our efforts are truly making a difference, and we constantly question whether we are making the changes we want to see. We measure our progress and success by setting clear goals and holding ourselves accountable to achieving them.
To truly understand the impact of our work, we examine both our local and global influence. And that requires us to ask ourselves some tough questions and evaluate every decision we make.
Why have we chosen to pursue a particular initiative or partnership?
Why are we partnering with specific organizations?
Is it the best and most effective way to achieve our goals?
So how do we answer
We constantly challenge ourselves to improve and strive for excellence in everything we do. We evaluate our next steps and ask ourselves why we are taking them – will they help us get closer to achieving our purpose, or have circumstances changed, needing us to adjust our approach?
We don’t take on projects lightly. We conduct a comprehensive assessment of a situation before making any commitments. We consider the context, the issue at hand, the proposed solution, the steps involved in those solutions, and the expected outcomes. And we always circle back to ensure that everything aligns with our mission and the impact we want to make in the world.
We do our due diligence by conducting research and analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with each project.
But even with all this preparation, we know that we can still lose sight of our goals if we’re not careful. That’s why we continuously revisit our purpose, our role, our objectives, and refuse to compromise the quality of our vision or let our intentions become diluted.
When we work together, we bring our best ideas and philanthropic spirit to create something truly remarkable.
But we also recognize the importance of taking a step back and reflecting on our progress. We ask ourselves the big questions because by constantly questioning our actions and decisions, we ensure that we stay on track and make the biggest impact possible. We are committed to creating positive change, and we will continue to strive towards that goal every day.
Corporate philanthropy is an essential aspect of modern business that can have a profound impact on society. It’s about making a difference and creating a better world for everyone.
But to truly make a difference, companies must be intentional, strategic, and committed to achieving meaningful, sustainable impact. It’s not enough to make a one-time donation or hold a single event. We must be committed to long-term goals and investments that can create lasting change. Our work is not just a passing trend in humanitarianism.
In fact, philanthropy is ingrained in our DNA.
Our story began over a century ago, with the visionary founder of the Swarovski business, Daniel Swarovski. He recognized early on that for the business to thrive, we needed to take care of the environment and community that sustained us.
The desire to take care of the natural world is central to our ethos and has been so since the initial Swarovski factory set up in the beautiful town of Wattens, Austria.
Wattens’ abundant mountain streams provided water for crystal cutting for the business. But it was more than that. Those streams also provided clean, renewable energy through hydropower.
Complimenting this philosophy to use nature ethically was Daniel Swarovski’s commitment to community well-being through activating a range of initiatives, including an orchestra, a cycling club, a sports and leisure center, and summer camps for employees’ children.
And by extension of this, his passion for education and creative innovation led Daniel and his wife Marie to donate land for the construction of a new school and provide scholarships to outstanding pupils from low-income families.
“Evolution never stops. Innovation
in one area creates the foundations
for innovation in another”
10 years ago, the Swarovski Foundation was founded as a tribute to Daniel’s philanthropic spirit and to nurture the roots that have driven us from the start.
Since its inception, our Foundation had intended to collaborate with a select few charitable partners to make a positive impact on the world. However, as we began to embark on smaller initiatives, it became abundantly clear that we could be most effective by leading the charge and championing multiple causes that were intimately connected to our core values.
Over the last decade, we’ve been fortunate enough to engage in partnerships and projects that have allowed us to reflect on our strategy and determine where our support is most impactful. Today the Swarovski Foundation has found its focus in supporting initiatives within 3 crucial areas: Equity, Water, and Creativity and through 2 signature programs, the Waterschool and Creatives for
Our commitment to equity has resulted in inspiring success stories.
We have witnessed young girls from underrepresented communities breaking down barriers to pursue higher education, and marginalized women completing training programs and securing stable jobs.
Our water partnerships have empowered communities to restore their lands, farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural practices, and the next generation to become better custodians of our planet’s precious water sources.
The Waterschool used drops of knowledge to create rivers of change.
What started in Austria has now expanded to encompass schools along some of the world’s most significant rivers. In its next phase, the Swarovski Foundation has taken the Waterschool under its wing to develop a joint venture that furthers our commitment to improving water sustainability and generating an even greater impact.
Our dedication to advancing creativity and promoting education has provided students with funding, platforms, and networks to excel their careers within the industry.
In addition, we established Creatives for our Future in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships, to support creatives across the globe in developing ground-breaking solutions to the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges.
We established an Action Fund, enabling us to act swiftly in response to the most devastating international social and environmental crises, from providing essential kits to help pregnant women deliver their babies safely in Yemen’s refugee camps, to backing global efforts to deliver lifesaving assistance to civilians in the wake of the earthquakes that struck Türkiye and Syria.
Swarovski Foundation and the Sustainable Development Goals
The Swarovski Foundation is committed to making a positive impact in the world and contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations.
Through our core areas of work, we focus our efforts on two specific Goals: Quality Education and Decent Work and Economic Growth, alongside offering periphery endorsement of several other Goals including: No Poverty; Gender Equality; Clean Water and Sanitation; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Reduced Inequalities, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Life Below Water; and Partnerships for the Goals.
We strongly believe that the opportunity to receive quality education is crucial to building a more sustainable and equitable future, and that education is the key to unlocking human potential and creating positive change. That’s why we align our partnerships and initiatives to focus on providing access to quality education for all, irrespective of background or circumstance.
Offering decent work and economic growth is also a key priority for the Swarovski Foundation. For us, this area is incredibly critical to building thriving, sustainable communities. Through our partnerships, we are working to create opportunities for job training and skill development, particularly in the areas of sustainable development and entrepreneurship. We are also committed to promoting responsible business practices that support social and environmental sustainability.
By focusing our efforts on these two Goals, our work can contribute directly to creating a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous world.
The Swarovski Foundation is driven by a strong commitment to creating a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable society. We strongly believe that inequality is one of the biggest challenges of our time, and it threatens the long-term social and economic development of individuals and communities alike.
That’s why we take immense pride in our collaboration with driven organizations that share our mission to lift the quality of education worldwide.
One of our earliest partnerships began in 2014 with Teach for Austria – an organization that envisions a world where every child in Austria has an equal opportunity to live a fulfilling life, irrespective of their parents’ education or income level.
Our initial collaboration with a focus on combating educational inequality and early school dropout has blossomed into a dynamic, multi-layered partnership, creating several initiatives that encourage participants to engage with social and environmental challenges. Teach for Austria Fellows have collaborated with the Waterschool program over the past 3 years to promote water education and empower children with the knowledge and skills needed to improve their local environments.
This partnership is making a significant impact beyond the four walls of their classrooms, as they also contribute to the growth and development of the schools they serve. A staggering 75% of school principals who welcomed Fellows in 2022 reported that they bring new and innovative ideas to their educational institutions.
Together, we’re creating a lasting impact on marginalized communities by enhancing educational opportunities and empowering the next generation of leaders. By fostering creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, we are equipping students with the tools they need to thrive in an ever-changing world. Our commitment to education is unwavering, and we’re proud of the progress we’ve made thus far.
Building on the success of our partnership with Teach for Austria, we embarked on a similar collaboration with Teach For Thailand in 2015. Our joint efforts are aimed at fostering positive learning environments and ending educational inequality in Thailand, and we are committed to enhancing the overall participant experience, which has led to the development of various opportunities for growth and development.
Recently, Teach For Thailand Fellows began incorporating the Waterschool curriculum into their teaching, thus raising awareness about the importance of water sustainability and in 2022, we collaborated with the Swarovski Group to organize a career guidance workshop with employees.
Our partnerships with Teach For Austria and Teach For Thailand are creating tangible and long-term changes by empowering both students and educators.
To expand our impact on young people, we partnered with SEJA, an organization that works with local social leaders in Brazilian communities experiencing high levels of urban violence.
With our support, SEJA’s ‘Professional Development Program’ equipped 15 leaders in favelas with essential tools to develop and manage sustainable social projects. These initiatives ranged from football sessions, tutoring, and reading workshops, to ballet classes, benefiting over 900 children every month.
We are proud to report that at the end of the program, SEJA documented a 67% increase in leaders’ understanding of crucial topics such as project management, fundraising, financial management, and strategic planning. Additionally, 100% of the leaders secured new partners or donors to further support their projects.
As part of our commitment to young people, we continuously listen and respond to emerging events. Today, children and young people are facing a multitude of unprecedented challenges, including pandemics, conflicts, climate change, and rising inequalities, which are all taking a toll on their mental health. In 2021, we partnered with YoungMinds, a UK organization dedicated to ensuring that no young person feels alone with their mental health and that they receive the support they require, when they require it, no matter what.
Supported by the Swarovski Foundation, YoungMinds was able to develop its ‘360 Schools Network’. This program provided teaching resources and materials to over 21,400 school professionals, including teachers, senior leadership staff, and governors. Additionally, mental health training was provided to over 2,100 professionals and volunteers working in community settings.
We believe that creating a safe environment where young people feel free to talk about their mental health and assisting school professionals in responding effectively can lead to better outcomes for a young person’s development.
“I have taken so much away from this training course which I will be able to implement in my job role including the framework and principles of trauma informed care, supporting young people’s mental health in creative ways, all of the creative resources to enable discussions around mental health, a knowledge and comfort that having difficult conversations can be tough and the importance of self-care and how as an organisation we can better develop the support available to staff.”
Between January and March of 2022, 90% of the adults supported through our partnership reported feeling more confident in their ability to assist young people with their mental health, while 99% of them claimed that the training would impact the way they offer such support.
Under this pillar, we also take pride in supporting organizations that empower girls and women. One such organization is Room to Read, which we first partnered with in 2015 to help create a world without illiteracy and gender inequality.
Since then, over 1,300 girls from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Laos, India, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka have benefited from the Swarovski Foundation’s support of Room to Read’s ‘Girls’ Education Program’, which equips adolescent girls with life skills education, mentoring, material support, and family engagement, enabling them to continue their education and overcome any obstacles.
In 2022, we backed the organisation’s ambition to go even further. Research showed that strengthening boys’ awareness of harmful social norms is critical to promoting girls’ education, and through the Swarovski Foundation’s support, 72 boys were able to take part in a pilot program in Cambodia, providing life skills sessions and family and community engagement.
The ‘Girls’ Education Program’ has been pivotal in enabling girls to access education, develop essential life skills and tools, and overcome challenges, and the impressive 97% advancement rate reported by Room to Read for program participants directly demonstrates the program’s effectiveness.
Accelerating our support in this area has been our partnership with Women for Women International, which has been a resounding success. Since the Foundation’s inception, we’ve worked together to support women who have survived the horrors of war, helping them rebuild their lives. In Nigeria alone, we’ve worked with over 1,100 women in this endeavor since we began partnering together, through a social and economic program that addresses the unique challenges faced by women in the country and their urgent need for sustainable livelihood opportunities.
The program has equipped these women with the knowledge and practical skills to start their own businesses, enabling them to break free from poverty and take control of their futures. Participants have gained invaluable insights into their rights, health, and wellness, as well as improving their knowledge of nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation.
The results speak for themselves: between 2020 and 2021 68% of participants saw an increase in their average monthly personal earnings, while 97% have been able to save a portion of their earnings. Meanwhile, 88% demonstrated an improved understanding of nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation, and 89% gained a better understanding of their rights. Finally, at graduation 87% of participants reported being involved in household decision-making, further demonstrating the tangible impact of this program.
Recognizing that health is a huge factor impacting the opportunities available to people, the Swarovski Foundation has also worked with mothers2mothers since 2018, supporting their innovative approach to improving healthcare outcomes through the empowerment of Mentor Mothers. These are women living with HIV who have been trained and employed as Community Health Workers, and who act as role models, providing crucial support and guidance to vulnerable communities.
Our most recent support has enabled us to contribute to a program in Kenya that focuses on nurturing care for vulnerable young children, their mothers, and their families. The program has increased the capacity of Mentor Mothers and healthcare workers to provide inclusive and comprehensive care for children aged 0-3 years, including those with disabilities up to 5 years of age.
Through our support, they trained 30 Mentor Mothers and healthcare workers, reaching over 2,600 pregnant women, mothers, and caregivers of vulnerable children.
Thanks to this program, 100% of children with disabilities served by Mentor Mothers received the health services they needed. The program also empowered Mentor Mothers to act as peer supporters for their female clients, ensuring they access the care they are entitled to, but also as advocates, to represent their needs and speak out against the challenges that disproportionately affect them.
The scope of this issue has truly been and continues to be staggering: wealth and income inequality has reached historic levels, with extreme poverty increasing for the first time in 25 years. Unequal access to food, education, health services, and other essential resources creates little opportunity for people to break the cycle, leading instead to the perpetuation of disadvantage across generations.
Because of this, we decided the best course of action for the Swarovski Foundation is to hone our former Human Empowerment pillar to the Swarovski Foundation Equity pillar.
Under Equity, we’ll be able to strengthen our efforts to empower marginalized groups and continue to align with the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals. We will also direct our efforts towards impactful approaches that promote fair and inclusive access to education, which for us is key to building sustainable livelihoods and reducing inequality.
We’re incredibly proud of the impact we’ve had through our partnerships, and we’re committed to continuing our work to support vulnerable communities and empower as many people as possible to create a brighter future for all.
As a Corporate Foundation, we took inspiration from our historical legacy, aligned with its philosophy, and began supporting projects and organizations that promoted the protection of the environment.
The Swarovski Foundation has been a champion for a multitude of environmental causes since its start, spanning from safeguarding natural ecosystems and biodiversity, to raising awareness and advocating for policies to combat the far-reaching effects of climate change.
Investing in reforestation, for example, was always of immense importance to us. These projects not only mitigate climate change, but also restore degraded ecosystems and protect biodiversity, which directly benefits local communities by providing them with a sustainable source of income, clean water, and protection from natural disasters.
4 years ago, The Nature Conservancy presented us with an amazing opportunity to support their reforestation project in Mantiqueira, a region which has over 1 million hectares of land with the potential to be restored. Thanks to The Nature Conservancy’s project, municipalities, landowners, universities, corporations, and local associations have come together to advance the restoration agenda.
Through this project over 40 municipalities with legal frameworks that support restoration have already been established and more than 2,900 people have been trained on restoration-related issues. Additionally, more than US$2.5 million has been leveraged to enable restoration and conservation activities. Mantiqueira will now be able to provide essential ecosystem services such as sufficient water for over 20 million people, agriculture, and industries, as well as clean air and carbon storage, which results in benefits not only to the environment but also direct improvements to the lives of local communities.
Along the way, we came to realize the crucial importance of mangrove restoration in providing essential benefits to the environment and local communities.
Mangrove forests are vital in stabilizing shorelines, protecting coastal areas from erosion, and mitigating the impacts of climate change by sequestering large amounts of carbon. They are also home to a diverse range of species, from fish to birds and mammals, and support millions of people who rely on mangroves for fishing, farming, and other economic activities.
They also act as natural filters, removing pollutants from the water and improving water quality, which is critical for the health of both humans and marine life. Unfortunately, human activities such as illegal logging, development, and climate change have put mangrove forests in danger, making restoration efforts even more critical.
In 2020, we had the opportunity to lend our support to Conservation International’s project, which aims to foster community development and enhance local livelihoods on Chira Island by promoting mangrove conservation and restoration. This project is also committed to empowering local groups, led by women, to improve their well-being through sustainable alternative livelihoods.
Support from the Swarovski Foundation has meant the project has successfully engaged with 3 communities to establish mangrove nurseries and provide training on mangrove restoration. These efforts have helped to promote empowerment and create sustainable livelihoods, by supporting women leaders in the development of micro eco-enterprises, while restoring the precious mangrove forests that are so essential to the well-being of both the environment and local communities.
We also wanted to lend support for one of the most pressing issues facing our oceans today – overfishing. So, we decided to take action and teamed up with the Blue Marine Foundation, which has been working to tackle overfishing in the Aeolian Islands since 2017.
Prior to their pilot education project in 2019, there was only 1 local organization working on marine conservation education in Aeolian schools, with a focus on plastic pollution. We knew we had to do more, and that’s why we decided to support the Blue Marine Foundation’s marine conservation project.
The project aims to raise awareness and increase understanding of marine protection among local communities through educational programs and hands-on experiences. By delivering marine education programs to local school students, Blue Marine Foundation hope to improve their awareness, knowledge, and attitudes towards marine conservation. Our joint goal is to encourage pro-environmental behaviour change and strengthen scientific and diving skills of local and international volunteers through hands-on field experience.
We are proud to say that our efforts have impacted over 3,417 young people directly so far. Over 52,342 people have been impacted indirectly, including teachers who gained knowledge of marine science, fishermen who received formal training in scientific theory and members of the public engaged through their social media campaigns to promote the activities of the educational program.
These are just a few of the angles we’ve taken over the span of 10 years.
As we reflect on the invaluable lessons learned during the past decade, we now move forward by centering our efforts and directing our attention towards a single critical issue we can magnify our impact on exponentially; by refocusing our thematic approach to water, we can make a significant difference in addressing one of the world’s most pressing concerns.
Water is at the core of everything. It connects to, and has a direct impact, on many different other areas such as food, energy, security, and the economy.
It is not just a basic human right; it’s also a priceless asset for both people and the planet. But water is a limited and unevenly distributed resource, and that makes it all the more crucial to learn how to manage it sustainably.
In the past, the significance of water in driving positive development was not widely acknowledged. However, the scarcity, pollution, and devastating power of water are increasingly becoming a pressing concern, bringing its crucial role in the global environmental and societal context to the forefront of people’s minds, who recognize the vital role of water and so work towards understanding, cherishing, and sustainably managing it to secure a better future for us all.
All our key environmental challenges are connected to water – whether there is too much, too little, or too polluted for human use
Collaboration is key to achieving water sustainability. We must continue to work together across different sectors to restore our ecosystems, reduce the harmful effects of climate change, promote human health and livelihoods, and provide clean water and sanitation to everyone.
By educating ourselves and others, we can create a more water-resilient world for generations to come.
And to make this happen, we need to prioritize environmental education from an early age. Previously, education had been disregarded as a solution to address water challenges. However, now more than ever, it is being acknowledged as a powerful tool for driving change. Education can equip individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to conserve water and manage this resource. By educating ourselves and others, we can create a more water-resilient world for generations to come.
Starting in schools and continuing through university, we need to equip people with the knowledge and skills they need to make a positive impact on the world. This includes on-the-job training to ensure that people can implement sustainable solutions and adaptations in their local communities.
Through our support for education programs, we aim to create a shift in awareness that will foster lasting positive changes in behavior and transform water management systems for generations to come.
We are committed to tackling the glaring inequalities brought about by water challenges, especially the economic pressure faced by women and young people. As part of our Water Pillar, we have resolved to provide comprehensive water education that empowers communities to take charge of their water resources. Together, we can build a global network of informed and educated individuals who are committed to creating a more equitable and sustainable future.
With that in mind, the Swarovski Waterschool will be integrated into the Swarovski Foundation as the signatory program of the newly denominated Water Pillar. This is an incredible opportunity for us to continue building on the legacy of a project that has already demonstrated its success for over 20 years and will allow the program to amplify its impact and connect with Foundation partners to address the critical challenges of equitable education and access to safe water.
The Waterschool is an educational program developed to empower young people and their communities by providing tools, resources, and training to enable them to address their local water needs.
The first Waterschool opens at the Hohe Tauern National Park in Austria within the basin of the Danube. An educational program is introduced, teaching both children and young adults about the importance and scarcity of water.
The first project outside of Austria, the Waterschool India opens around the Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan in the Ganges basin.
China & Uganda
The Waterschool starts operating in six regions along the Yangtze river in China and 20 communities in Kanungu district in Uganda.
The Waterschool comes to the state of Parà in northern Brazil, focusing on water and environmental education through school and community-based participatory learning.
USA & Thailand
Three Waterschool pilot projects launch with various organizations to highlight local water sources. NGRREC: Mississippi River; Raks Thai Foundation: Chao Praya river basin; Fundação Amazonas Sustentável: Amazon.
Global Teaching Material
Working in cooperation with its NGO partners, Waterschool launches the global edition of its “Drops of Knowledge for Rivers of Change” teaching and learning materials.
Celebrating 20 Years
The Waterschool celebrates 20 years of contributing to the long-term availability of water for people and nature.
With local partners Earthwatch Australia, the Waterschool launches its pilot project in Sydney, Australia. This marks an exciting milestone for the Waterschool, which is now active in six continents.
The protection of our water resources is more important than ever, and the Waterschool is spearheading this movement. With the support of the Swarovski Foundation and other partners, we can ensure that young people around the world have the tools and knowledge they need to make a real difference in the fight for a better, more sustainable future.
“Water, rivers, and communities go hand in hand. By teaching about the fragility and responsibility that we all have as custodians of this wonderful resource, we are ensuring a better future for our world.”
– Nicholas Hall, Principal,
Georges River Environmental Education Centre—NSW, Australia
The evaluation of the Waterschool has shown that it is doing exactly what it set out to do: broadening the horizons of young people and building their knowledge about critical environmental issues and the challenges that they will face in the future.
Because of the success of the program in Austria, the Waterschool has now expanded into a global initiative.
Through the Waterschool, we work alongside local partners to bring education about sustainable water use and protection of nature to young people between the ages of 8 and 18, and through them, their families and communities. By inspiring a lifelong passion for this crucial subject, we are creating a generation of water ambassadors.
“The Waterschool project changed my life in every aspect. It was where my desire to fight for the environment first emerged. I hope that all of our efforts pay off, so that in the future other people can take advantage of the resources we have today.”
Our comprehensive program is designed to educate teachers, students, and communities about the principles of sustainable water management, hygiene, and the environment. We accomplish this through our Waterschool teaching materials, which are designed to engage and inspire to make the learning process both informative and fun.
But we don’t stop there. We know that usable water is essential for healthy communities. That’s why we combine education with action and provide access to these resources wherever they are needed, from safe water to sanitation facilities, to help to create healthier communities.
The Swarovski Foundation Waterschool program has made a significant impact in educating communities around the world. With this new integration, we can continue to expand our reach and make an even greater difference in the lives of people and the health of our planet.
Since 2000, the Waterschool program has educated 800,000 children about the importance of water and engaged with over 23,000 teachers globally in over 2,500 schools.
What began as a local project has since evolved into a global initiative that now operates within watershed areas of 8 of the world‘s major rivers—Danube, Ganges, Yangtze, Nile, Amazon, Chao Phraya, Mississippi, Parramatta—in 8 countries: Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, India, Thailand, Uganda, and the USA.
We are all aware of the critical global issues facing our planet, from environmental degradation to human rights violations such as pollution, deforestation, and inequality.
While there are numerous proposed solutions, the Swarovski Foundation firmly believes that creativity can be a powerful force for change in the modern world and can significantly impact our environmental footprint and societal impact.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing inequalities, particularly in education, with disadvantaged communities facing decreased access to Art & Design education, leading to a decline in creativity among young people.
Recognizing the significance of education, we are committed to focusing our efforts on providing quality creative education through partnerships and programs. We also acknowledge that the skills, knowledge, and resources obtained through education need to be connected and sustained to enable positive change and increase sustainable livelihoods.
We will strive to create a world where creativity and education can drive meaningful change and ensure that no one is left behind in the pursuit of a better future for all.
The Design Museum holds a special place for us as one of the first partners we ever had the privilege of working with, shortly after the inception of the Swarovski Foundation in 2013.
As the world’s leading museum of contemporary design and architecture, the Design Museum showcases exceptional design through a captivating program to inspire, engage, and thrill audiences. The museum’s mission is to invite everyone to experience and contemplate the influence of contemporary design in all forms, through exhibitions, events, learning activities, and online content.
Our initial collaboration with the museum aimed to provide accessible educational facilities for young people to learn about the role of design and its impact. In 2017, the Swarovski Foundation Centre for Learning was established, an inspiring facility equipped to promote and support design education through creative workshops to excite, inspire and engage students.
As we approach a decade of partnership, we are proud to continue our collaboration with the Design Museum. Together, we have developed the Sustainable Design School program, a series of design-based workshops that aim to educate young people and empower them to make sustainable decisions in their everyday lives and future design practices. We hope that our joint efforts will leave a lasting impact and help shape a brighter future for our planet.
In 2014, we began empowering gifted design students by awarding scholarships at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. Our aim was to unleash their creative potential by providing guidance from esteemed academics and leveraging their extensive college network. Central Saint Martins is celebrated worldwide for the boundless creative energy of its students, staff, and alumni.
So far, we’ve supported 44 students – 22 studying jewelry design and 22 studying fashion design – to complete their final year of study in BA Fashion Design and BA Jewellery Design. These talented individuals have been equipped to use their skills to respond to pressing challenges and make a positive impact, as our goal is to advance creative talent that can tackle major societal issues and contribute to creating a brighter future.
Realizing the urgency and immense potential to revolutionize the future of the fashion industry, the Swarovski Foundation and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) teamed up to launch the Re: Generation Innovation Scholar Award in 2021. The aim of this award was to promote innovative design thinking and learning within sustainable fashion systems.
Bailey Adams was the most recent inaugural scholar of the Re:Generation Innovation Award. He was granted financial support and comprehensive educational mentorship, industry consultations, field visits, public exposure, and access to CFDA’s prestigious network. This personalized program equipped Bailey with advanced knowledge and skills for low-impact production systems, such as ethical sourcing, materiality, and sustainable or natural dyeing techniques.
Bailey applied these new skills to his Thesis Collection, which is now showcased on CFDA Runway 360. He now understands the importance of responsible creation and decision-making in fashion design and is committed to following sustainable production protocols at Tory Burch. Thanks to this award, Bailey is now a conscientious designer, capable of innovating within the constraints of a sustainable fashion system and is committed to making a positive impact on the industry.
We understand that emerging designers require support and guidance to embrace sustainable and innovative production systems. That’s why we partnered with Fashion Council Germany and The Prince’s Foundation to launch an educational program, FASHION X CRAFT in 2021, which combines sustainability, craftsmanship, and innovation, with an emphasis on artisanal techniques and natural resources.
It offers a 3-week residency at The Prince’s Foundation’s new educational facility at Highgrove, where 6 selected participants learn craft skills such as basketry, decorative plasterwork, and woodcarving. In addition, the program features supplementary webinars and a 3-day intensive workshop to advance participants’ understanding of the circular economy and sustainable practices.
By participating in FASHION X CRAFT, emerging designers gain access to a supportive network of like-minded individuals and acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to implement sustainable production practices in their designs. They are empowered to leverage traditional artisanal techniques to create innovative, sustainable fashion that has a positive impact on the environment and society.
As a charity, it is our duty to empower communities in need.
After the Syrian crisis, over half of Syrians were forced to leave their homes, and Jordan is now home to millions of refugees from Palestine, Syria, and Iraq. These refugees require employment, hope, and a positive connection to their heritage. However, young refugee women in Jordan face societal and cultural barriers that prevent them from accessing dignified employment. In fact, 93% of young refugee women are unemployed.
To combat this issue, Turquoise Mountain identified a shortage of skilled makers in the handmade jewelry sector, which also presents a growing global market opportunity. Thus, we saw it as essential to support these young women through educational programs to help them generate sustainable income after completing the program. Through our partnership with Turquoise Mountain, we are empowering 43 young people, 90% of whom are women, by providing them with advanced technical and design skills as well as business knowledge.
Specifically, 5 Syrian and Jordanian women received advanced technical skills through a 4-month design workshop, combined with one-to-one mentoring from jewelry designers and master artisans to learn production steps.
Additionally, 18 young people joined an entrepreneurship course which provided intensive capacity building training to support their businesses. 10 of the top young entrepreneurs from this programme progressed to receive private business coaching with business experts, sales and marketing support, as well as an introduction and connection to the international market.
Moreover, 20 young people will participate in an intensive 5-day business skills program, where they will learn everything from A to Z of jewelry or craft design business.
By providing these educational opportunities, we are giving young women in Jordan a chance to create a better future for themselves and their families. They will be able to earn a sustainable income, gain confidence, and become leaders in their communities.
In a world where the creative economy is becoming recognized more and more, we believe in its transformative power and the potential it has to level the playing field by providing opportunities for everyone, regardless of background.
And so, by refocusing our former culture and creativity work to the Swarovski Foundation Creativity Pillar, we will level-up our investment in accessible creative education for young people and women in marginalized groups, we can harness the power of creativity to reduce inequality and shift the paradigm of economic growth towards a more sustainable model, where creativity thrives.
Creatives for our future
Young people today face more obstacles than ever before when trying to enter the creative industry, with limited opportunities and exclusive convenings stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Recognizing that this was a tough time for aspiring artists, designers, and engineers, we wanted to make sure not all hope was lost.
That’s why in 2021 the Swarovski Foundation launched Creatives For Our Future, a global educational grant funding program in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships. With a focus on the brightest young talents working in industries such as design, engineering and the arts, the program identifies and accelerates the next generation of creative leaders who will drive sustainable development.
The program’s ultimate goal is to leverage the Swarovski Foundation’s resources, including funding and a vast network that spans borders and industries, to drive meaningful change. To achieve this, we assembled a team of 30 industry leaders who serve as master teachers and mentors for the cohort, providing guidance and support as they develop their ideas.
Creatives For Our Future invites individuals aged 21 to 30, from all corners of the world, to submit their ideas for sustainable innovation. Since its inception, over 650 submissions have been received from 88 countries, with 15 successful applicants chosen and supported by the Swarovski Foundation.
These individuals come from 12 different countries and possess a diverse range of skills, including fashion, product design, biotechnology, architecture, engineering and the visual arts. What unites them is their shared focus on environmental and human practices.
“Creatives for Our Future is a trailblazing initiative that provides an opportunity for the co-creation of sustainable solutions to better our planet and our communities. The program supports young global leaders to harness the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Just as the SDGs are deeply interconnected, solutions to global challenges must be interdisciplinary. We need to encourage visionary talents like the cohort of Creatives for Our Future creativity and lay a foundation for new ideas that can deliver to think beyond the status quo, and help us design a better, more sustainable future”
– Annemarie Hou
Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships
The program has brought together an exceptional group of rising stars from across the globe, each of whom has reimagined sustainable design through innovative projects. Their ideas have ranged from synthetic coral and hemp blocks as a sustainable alternative to concrete, to a card game for learning sign language, automation of bacteria dye, and a device to improve water sustainability and management.
As a direct result, 14 of these Creatives For Our Future cohort members have produced or upgraded prototypes or their ideas since inception.
So far, in 2021 and 2022, a brilliant group of innovators from around the world have formed the cohort. These individuals embarked on an 8-month journey that helped shape their ideas into inspirational models for a sustainable future. Supported by advocates who believed in their vision and helped them bring it to life, these are their stories.
“We need to stop the disposable culture and find a way to recover waste. If we want to handle waste, we must understand how the waste is produced. The program provided me the resources to deep dive into the material recognition to accelerate and improve the recycling process.“
– Florencia Valladares
2022 Creatives For Our Future Cohort
“The Creatives For Our Future program was a true turnaround for me and my creative practice to push forward the implementation of my innovative project to advance SDG 6, improve access to clean and safe water for communities. And access to clean and safe water brings people good health, wellbeing, as well as happiness.”
– Joshua Ichor
2022 Creatives For Our Future Cohort
“With the program support, I was able to refine the models and scale up my innovation for other sectors such as agriculture, which is one of the most energy intensive industries.”
– Muhammad Hassamuddin
2022 Creatives For Our Future Cohort
“The Creatives For Our Future program has played a crucial role in advancing my project and bringing me closer to realizing my initial impact vision. The program has equipped me with essential tools, resources, and connection paving the way for a more sustainable cerative industry.”
– Aradhita Parasrampuria
2022 Creatives For Our Future Cohort
The inaugural cohort members of Creatives For Our Future have accomplished incredible feats.
Osasumwen Obasogie is currently market-testing his stove which aims to provide a solution for the 620 million Africans without access to electricity.
Agnieszka Doczynska’s card game has the potential to improve the lives of 50,000 deaf people in Poland. Her creation was featured at one of Poland’s most experimental and forward-thinking galleries, Zachęta Project Place, post-program graduation.
She collaborated with another Creatives For Our Future alumna, Agnieszka Doczynska, to raise awareness about women’s health and menstruation by creating an open-source educational kit called Menstrupedia.
Sejal also, with fellow Creatives For Our Future alumni Yara Ewida, recognized the urgent need to address the global refugee crisis and developed the concept of the “Universal Temporary House,” a foldable emergency shelter equipped with a water filtration system for use in refugee camps. Their innovative solution has the potential to save the lives of thousands of refugees worldwide.
Ghislain Irakoze opened a sustainable art gallery in Rwanda and collaborated with 10 young artists to exhibit 100 artworks painted on canvases created from 10 tons of recycled banana trunks, bringing attention to the endangered species of living creatures in Africa.
Sejal Budholiya responded to the water shortage in her community in India by developing a sustainable water filtration system and even created a menstruation product for use in space and areas without proper facilities.
Meanwhile, Yara Ewida tackled ocean water acidification by creating synthetic coral tiles as a sustainable alternative to concrete.
Camila Wandemberg collaborated with a local fashion designer in Ecuador to create a commercial collection with textiles dyed using an ancestral method that uses bacteria.
Daniele Ficarra addressed the electricity shortage in rural areas with a stunning lighting fixture using bioluminescent organisms as green energy.
These achievements show that innovative solutions and sustainable practices can be integrated into various industries seamlessly. Their work serves as an inspiration for us all to continue pushing boundaries and seeking out innovative solutions to the challenges we face.
The 2nd year cohort members of Creatives For Our Future have made remarkable achievements through their innovative projects that address pressing sustainability challenges.
Noemi Florea has constructed a working model of a compact greywater treatment system called Cycleau. This device can capture sink greywater and treat it to a potable standard, reducing the impact of sewage pollution and protecting homeowners from contaminants in municipal water distribution systems.
Noemi’s solution has earned her recognition as a MIT Solv[ED] Youth solver in 2023. She continues to develop the system to reduce water pollution and promote water reuse technology.
Aradhita Parasrampuria has upgraded her algae-based embellishment production system with updated molds to produce various sizes of beads, which can now serve as a replacement for the damaging impact of conventional embellishment production on workers and the environment. She has taken her algae-based embellishment to the next level by setting up her algae-cellulose beading company, promoting the use of BioEmbellishment in the fashion industry and biodegradable beads in the cosmetic industry to reduce microplastic pollution and carbon emissions.
She was a panelist in a discussion hosted by the United Nations Office for Partnerships and Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network, as a part of the United Nations 2023 Water Conference at the United Nations New York Headquarters, where she advocated for innovative approaches and materials to reduce non-biodegradable waste and water pollution.
Joshua Ichor has developed a hand pump monitoring system and built a clean water kiosk for rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. His efforts have increased communal access to clean water, which is crucial in regions that lack this basic necessity.
His clean water kiosk has been supplying more than 50,000 liters of clean water to community members, enabling over 10,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa to access clean water every day.
Hassam Uddin has refined his innovative product, geo-Air Con, by leveraging stable temperatures underground to reduce the usage of non-renewable energy and combat global warming. With program support, he has refined the product through multiple models and scaled it up for application in other sectors such as agriculture.
Florencia Valladares has created a prototype of an electronic device that can identify recyclable materials and conditions to accelerate and increase the volume of waste that goes into recycling.
Charlotte Werth has improved her machine to automate and scale up bacteria dye processes, which reduces environmental damage caused by most of the chemical dyes commonly used at the commercial level.
These young creatives have demonstrated their commitment to sustainable innovation and positive change for society and the environment. Their accomplishments are a testament to the power of combining investment, education, and mentorship, and the potential of collaboration across borders and industries.
The Swarovski Foundation believes that everyone has unlimited potential, and their goal is to empower and advance creative talents to reach their full capabilities. The Creatives For Our Future program was designed to foster the next generation of sustainable leaders, and these talented individuals have demonstrated the power of innovation and sustainable practices to make a difference in various industries.
Pillars: Action Fund
In times of crisis, every single effort counts. At the Swarovski Foundation, we firmly believe in the power of collective action to create long-lasting change in the lives of those who have been affected by extreme situations.
Whether it’s a natural disaster or a man-made emergency, we’re committed to providing resources and support to the organizations that fight to bring hope and relief to those who need it most.
Our Action Fund is a testament to this commitment. Through it, the Swarovski Foundation is dedicated to alleviating the suffering of vulnerable communities affected by some of the world’s most urgent crises.
For the past decade, the Swarovski Foundation has been responding to a range of devastating situations, such as helping to provide much-needed support to refugees, displaced persons, and their host communities in Afghanistan, Greece, Iraq, Pakistan, South Sudan, Syria, Türkiye, and Ukraine through grants to UK for UNHCR, for example, over the last 4 years.
In addition, we have extended our support to trusted partners like the British Red Cross, as they worked tirelessly to respond to various emergency situations in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Yemen, and UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agenda, which focuses on delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
From epidemics, earthquakes, and wildfires to child marriage, racism, and more recently the cost-of-living crisis, our partners have been at the forefront of providing relief to those in need.
Through the Action Fund, we hope to make a powerful statement about our unwavering dedication to making a difference in the world.
With the need for humanitarian assistance and protection at a record high due to conflict, climate change and poverty, and inequalities worsening around the globe, the Swarovski Foundation will continue to take action and collaborate with trusted partners to respond to crises impacting vulnerable communities.
By Marisa Schiestl-Swarovski,
Chair of the Swarovski Foundation
Our commitment to making a positive impact in the world requires us to hold ourselves accountable and be transparent in our operations.
At the heart of our work are our core values and principles: integrity, respect, and innovation, and we firmly believe that they’re essential to achieving sustainable livelihoods for everyone.
We understand that the world is constantly evolving, and we will stay true to our values and principles even as we adapt to ever-changing circumstances.
We take our moral responsibility to use resources wisely seriously and so we will carefully consider the effect of these investments on the environment and society, ensuring that they contribute to positive social and environmental change.
We will carefully consider the effect of these investments on the environment and society, ensuring that they contribute to positive social and environmental change.
Investing alone, however, is not enough to create lasting impact; we have to use our resources, global platform and people power if we want to make a difference, and so we will make sure to combine our advocacy engagement efforts with investments for a comprehensive and effective approach to our philanthropy that makes a difference in the communities we serve.
We know that our vision cannot be achieved alone, we will also continue to work closely with our collaborative community so that together we achieve more significant and lasting impact.
Looking ahead, the Swarovski Foundation is dedicated to even stronger accountability, collaboration, and responsible investment without compromising who we are and what we stand for.
We are proud of our commitment to these values and grateful to our global collaborations in pursuit for a better world for all.