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Highlighting brilliant case studies within the Urban Context: Lernhaus

Presenting our new series: Highlighting brilliant case studies within the Urban Context. Our Cities and Regions network has scoured Europe to bring together the best examples of innovation happening within the urban context. The series includes 14 examples from around Europe. 

The Lernhaus, established in 2011, is an institution run by the Red Cross in Austria where children and youth between six and 15 years receive teaching aid and tutoring free of charge. Lernhaus provides this service mostly in a non-school environment with professional personnel supported by volunteers who work with children in small groups or individual settings. Early assistance, starting in elementary school is a key asset of the project. This helps to prevent early discouragement or negative routines settling in and thus to overcome deficits and social exclusion. For older children during their year of graduation (at age 15) the project offers specific modules for finding occupations or further forms of education. Lernhaus has one location in Vienna, supporting ca. 60 children and young people each year, and three smaller locations in Lower Austria (the province around Vienna) and two in Tyrol. These locations are generally smaller and tied closer to individual schools.

Lernhaus started out as a top-down initiative of socially responsible companies and executives seeking for an issue to address. It is a distinct and somewhat new project of a large NGO that is active in many fields. Entering a new and emerging field with a combination of externally hired project creators, fairly young project managers and volunteers, the project soon established its own domain, and managers enjoyed considerable discretion - but at the cost of some overburdening and staff turnover. Stakeholders had to learn to balance their targets and publicity benefits against the operational logic of the project, and project managers learned to better transfer knowledge and also to formalise some procedures and practices: having disadvantaged youths negotiate targets with project managers, monitoring their progress with a software tool and improving both children's and volunteers' attendance through the introduction of a contract are new practices and methods with roots in new public management, consultancy and pedagogy.

The full report is available on the right hand side of this page.