Who We Are


The Bertelsmann Foundation, established in 2008, is the North American arm of the Germany-based Bertelsmann Stiftung. We are a driver of social change. We are committed to promoting the freedom of individuals and societies, and international understanding.

Our work reflects the principles of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, one of Europe's largest foundations. The Stiftung was founded in 1977 by Reinhard Mohn, who, as head of Bertelsmann AG, turned the publishing house into a leading international media group. The Stiftung's activities are guided by the principle that ownership of capital brings an obligation to contribute to society. Since its inception, the Stiftung has invested more than US$ 1 billion in more than 700 projects. The Stiftung has approximately 300 employees and is headquartered in the northern German town of Gütersloh. It has opened other branches in Brussels and Barcelona. The Washington, DC-based Foundation is part of this network.

Reinhard Mohn endowed the Stiftung with a majority shareholding in Bertelsmann AG, now Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA. Most funding for the Foundation's projects comes from that gift.

The Bertelsmann Foundation and the Bertelsmann Stiftung are led by President and CEO Aart De Geus. His leadership ensures that the organizations have common goals and work in tandem.

What We Do

The Bertelsmann Foundation develops, creates, and implements its own projects and programs. We serve as a "Center for European Excellence" and — more broadly — as an international window in the US capital, providing a showcase for global best practices and a venue for thought leaders to exchange ideas for confronting society's greatest challenges.

Our international work focuses on the trans-Atlantic partnership and the new foreign-policy challenges that that alliance faces. We also place great emphasis on the impact of the financial crisis on US and European economic and social policy.

Our Shaping a Globalized World project develops ideas for the political management of globalization and incorporates those ideas and suggestions into an international debate. The project probes the political agenda of a globalized world, strategies for action and modes of governance.

Our Global Economic Dynamics project is developing a comprehensive economic model, which it will then use to create a monitoring tool that will keep track of the values and costs of economic globalization. This will help the Bertelsmann Foundation to explain to a broader public the effects of globalization; deliver better information to decision-makers; and identify economic and social strategies that use the strengths and mechanisms of globalization to our collective advantage.

We bring together experts in all these areas to work with us, to learn from one another and to foster creative thinking. We develop practical policy recommendations and offer them to policymakers and stakeholders for political and social improvement. We strive to inspire ideas.

The Bertelsmann Foundation has established an annual conference that brings together high-level, international representatives of government, business, labor, academia and the media to discuss global cooperation on issues crucial to the future of our societies. The global economic downturn and using it as a catalyst for shared and sustainable future growth remains an overarching topic for the gathering.

The Bertelsmann Foundation strongly believes that the international financial and fiscal crises offer options for economic renewal, and new sources of growth, and that policymakers and thought leaders can collectively discover opportunities for constructive action on and solutions to our societies' most chronic and intractable problems.

The Bertelsmann Foundation underwrites programs that promote international communication and understanding. We:

  • bring together US and European officials for exclusive briefings on current and mutual foreign-, economic- and social-policy challenges
  • established the first fellowship program for Congressional and European Parliament staffers to advance understanding of legislative priorities and processes on both sides of the Atlantic
  • launched e-newsletters for Capitol Hill staffers on legislative developments and trends in the European Union and for European Parliament staffers on legislative developments and trends in Washington, DC
  • bring together rising trans-Atlantic leaders and thinkers to explore the common challenges facing the US-European partnership
  • analyze the impressive political and economic developments of the "Pacific Pumas", the four members of the Pacific Alliance
  • serve as a facilitator for global dialogue