BildungsCent e.V. is a non-profit organization that has been working with more than 5.000 schools throughout Germany since 2003 in the fields of climate protection, climate change, student participation and engagement.

Within four months, we have been collaboratively working on the research platform “”, which provides an overview of 30.000 schools in Germany and offers freely accessible information on extracurricular school activities, partnerships and programs. With the project it was possible to emphasis that non-profit actors are crucial partners for schools since they are the main actors to carry out extracurricular activities.

Over the past years, BildungsCent collected a variety of information on school activities and built a rich archive for each cooperating school and programs that are offered. ‘Data literacy’ is a particularly important topic for Silke Ramelow, CEO of BildungsCent:

"I think when we got together, it revealed a missing link that we were not aware of. During our meetings and discussions it became clear: we [the cooperation] fit, and we need to improve our knowledge in this field. I found that very impressive. Suddenly everything made sense: We have always put a lot of emphasis on collecting and preparing our data. But now it became clear to us why we actually do that." Silke Ramelow

Lessons learned

After the first research and analysis of available information on school activities in Germany for, the results were unexpected:

"At first I was shocked because the data painted the old traditional picture of schools with little participation opportunities for students. But at the same time, the research results were understandable because what the data showed was the reflection of how the vast majority of people sees schools. I found that very interesting and I did not expect that. But for me, this was an important lesson: With data I have the chance to change the existing image [of the schools]!" Silke Ramelow

During the next months, BildungsCent has made progress in working with data and digital tools:

"Knowledge like every data is different, you need to clean it and be critical with the information provided before you draw conclusions in your analysis, and you need to check your sources constantly. This awareness on the one hand, which is totally important in social projects, and on the other hand, what I like so much about your approach: You do not have to be a computer scientist to work with data! It was a great experience for all of us." Silke Ramelow

Our cooperation has shown how important partnerships are when working on data-driven social projects and what makes them special in the first place:

"I had the feeling that cooperations like our’s are those of the 'next world': Everyone comes from a specialized field to work on one issue, and everything else falls into place through discussions and collaborative workshops. Commonalities are the most important thing, which can be a mindset or a commons problem you want to solve. This also creates appreciation within the partnership and the willingness to put a lot of resources into a project. This approach of problem solving is hard to come by." Silke Ramelow

Next steps

"I think, we now have many leads to follow without having to start from scratch. It's more about future development and setting new priorities for our organisation. I am convinced that we will continue to work with data in the future. I think that it will be a very important field for us. We are also very interested in working with you because we still have a lot to learn, for example, how to tell stories with data." Silke Ramelow