Our vision and mission

Our vision is to live in a world that respects the right of young people to develop in the best possible way. A world where everyone has the chance to live a self-determined, fulfilled and participatory life.

The Duke Award supports young people aged 14 and over to develop their potential, discover passions and equip themselves with the key skills of the 21st century. The program’s guiding principle is:

“You can do more than you think!” (Kurt Hahn)


On the historical background of our vision

Our goals till 2025

Our goal is that by 2025

  • 3,000 new students start their award journey each year and at least half of them attend public secondary I schools.
  • at least 75% of our participants successfully complete their program and receive an award.
  • at least 75% of all participants have gained self-confidence and feel more resilient as a result of their participation in the Duke Award than before their participation (surveyed by pre- and post-surveys).

Social field of action and our approach

In our society, there is an increasing lack of spaces where young people can try things out and discover their strengths and potential, independent of school performance and societal expectations. Their right to the best possible development is being violated and our society is losing valuable resources that it urgently needs to master the challenges of our time.

The Duke Award, which has the motto “You can do more than you think!“, motivates, inspires and supports young people to develop independently and self-determinedly as personalities and to let their strengths shine, regardless of their starting situation. In the areas of service, fitness, talents and expeditions, they set personal goals and challenge themselves over a period of 6 to 18 months to achieve them. In the process, they acquire 21st-century skills. The process of goal setting, implementation and reflection is accompanied by an Award Leader who acts as a mentor.

Experiences of success and self-efficacy outside the classroom lead to new perspectives and attitudes. As a result, participants gradually change their actions – often only after completing the Award – and gain the courage to set increasingly larger goals, reach for their personal stars and actively help shape our society.

Our Theory of Change

…can be depicted as an upward spiral based on the “impact staircase” of the Phineo gAG:

Monitoring and Evaluation

We continuously review and evaluate our work. We measure input and output using data from our online record book, among other things. We analyse outcomes by surveying our participants and our volunteering Award Leaders. We look at satisfaction with our work as well as impact goals that are harder to measure. Our ongoing impact measurement focuses on the impact goals of self-confidence, resilience and leadership, using validated scales (Rosenberg and Wagner/Young).

Internationally, we also measure the social value of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award for society. These studies are conducted by PwC and currently exist for selected countries. For more information on this topic, please visit The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation homepage.

The results of our evaluations can be found below.

Our Team

Our team consists of people who are passionate about the issues of potential development and equal opportunities and who want to contribute to the realisation of the UN Children’s Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our Advisory Board

Our advisory board advises and supports our team in the strategic direction of our association. In doing so, we take the motto of the Duke Award to heart: We can do more than we think!

We thank our advisory board members from the bottom of our hearts for their great commitment.

International Network

Our association belongs to the international network The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation, which supports and accompanies national program providers in over 130 countries.

We are also part of the alliance of the largest global youth movements “The Big Six” and cooperate in ongoing projects with the UN and WHO.

On the history of the DofE Award and the German supporting association

The Duke of Edinburgh first concretely pursued the idea of a national program to promote the development of young people in the autumn of 1954, at the request of his former headmaster Kurt Hahn.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, like its “siblings” Round Square, Outward Bound and United World Colleges, is inextricably linked to the name and pedagogy of its inventor Kurt Hahn (1886 – 1974). Although its direct roots can be found at Schule Schloss Salem, where the reform pedagogue served as headmaster from its founding in 1920 until his expulsion in 1933, these go back to the origins of pedagogy in Plato’s State and Pindar’s “Become who you are!”.

The program was founded by Prince Philip in 1956 in Great Britain, whose title “Duke of Edinburgh” it still bears in its name. Philip was a pupil at Salem and then at the “second Salem” Gordonstoun, which Hahn ran from 1934 to 1953.

In the early years, the aim was to make the time between leaving school at about 15 and entering military service at about 18 meaningful and to give young men the opportunity to develop their personalities during this time.

An initial pilot project was rolled out to local education authorities, the Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force, as well as a handful of independent schools and grammar schools across the UK. After the first year, 7,000 boys had started their DofE and around 1,000 of them had received an award. In fact, the pilot project proved so successful that projects were soon launched overseas, now also for girls.

The Duke Award continued to evolve over the following decades. In 1980, the age limit was extended so that any young person between the ages of 14 and 24 could enter. At that time, the Award took on its current format with four program parts: Service, Talents, Fitness and Expeditions, and at the Gold level, additionally the Residential.

The popularity of the Award continues to grow, with over 130 countries and territories now offering the Award under the umbrella of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation.

In Germany, several organisations that were already working with the program under the direct supervision of the International Secretariat founded the Trägerverein in 1994/1995. This was recognised in 1996 by the Ministry of Culture and Sport of Baden-Württemberg as an independent youth welfare organisation and by the World Programme as the German “Programme Publisher”. Among the Award operators in Germany is Schule Schloss Salem, where it all began in 1920. The German association was led by Klaus Vogel until its 25th anniversary in 2020.