Vinzenz Himmighofen
Bosch Alumni Network Coordinator
Bosch Alumni Network
Learning Exchange Grants - Bosch Alumni Network
Vision: To be a global community that tackles challenges for societies and for our planet. To create and inspire equal and sustainable ways of living and working together.
40,000/ Year for LEGs = 80 mobility grants per year ( for 6000 members)

A year into the launch of our global network, we were looking for ways to increase interactions between different network members; The Learning Exchange Grants were born. Learning Exchange Grants (LEGs) are small travel grants that help members of the Bosch Alumni Network to deepen their connections with other network members by supporting visiting individuals working on similar topics in different locations or travelling to events organized by members. The aim is to share with each other and gain practical knowledge and new perspectives about other members or organisations within the network. The grants also allow members to discover new methods and practices and to find new perspectives on their own work.

The grants combine online and offline elements. Applicants have to find their matching partner via our platform and must have at least 70% of their profile filled out to be considered for the grant. Following a successful exchange, exchangers are asked to post a short story and picture summarising the outcomes of the meetup on the online platform to ensure that knowledge is shared with the wider community.

The Bosch Alumni Network brings together former and current fellows, grantees, and staff members of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and its partners. By connecting network members who have common interests but different backgrounds, cross-sectoral exchange and international collaborations are fostered. The Bosch Alumni Network is a cooperation between Robert Bosch Stiftung and the iac Berlin, a think and do tank for networks focused on social impact established by the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

What are the Learning Exchange Grants and why do you offer them?

Learning Exchange Grants are small travel grants that support the deepening of connections with other network members in two ways:

  1. Learning Partnerships (visiting individuals working on similar topics but in different locations). 
  • Convincing partnership
  • Clear outcomes (realistic goals, transferable knowledge)
  • Cross-program connections prefered
  1. Learning Events  

Attend an event, conference or workshop organised within/by one of the members in the Bosch Alumni Network. The event must be transparently announced on our platform and open to all members of the network.

Benefits of participation in the event are strategic and personal development and the event is in line with the charitable goals and common ideas of iac Berlin.The aim of the grant is to share and gain practical knowledge and new perspectives from other members or organisations within the network, to discover new methods and practices, and to find new perspectives on your own work. There’s a dual benefit to the LEGs: 

  • strengthening the network’s one-to-one connections and;
  • creating impact (depending on the individual learning goals of the LEG).
Have the grants proven to be successful? What were the results of those exchanges? What kind of impact do you see on the community / society?

Learning Exchange Grants are actively used and they empower network members to share knowledge directly. We provide quarterly opportunities to apply for LEG grants and in 2018 alone, 40 learning exchanges took place. 

The number of applications for this grant has been increasing continuously and so we decided to dedicate a larger share of our financial resources to this learning offer. This is a clear indicator that the grant scheme has been successful so far. With this increase in resources, we hope to further substantiate it, strengthen members’ ties within and around the network, and contribute to their further accomplishments.

Another impact: inspired by our LEGs, the program Land.Zuhause.Zukunft of the Robert Bosch Foundation also implemented Learning Exchange Grants.

What does it take to implement something similar? What are the key elements do you recommend others to include?
  1. Trust in your community members that they will not misuse the grants, as full control and oversight is difficult.
  2. Your network must be a certain size and be diverse for this offer to be interesting.
  3. An efficient administrative way to handle the grants, including issues with fluctuating currencies and international money transfers.
  4. Define clear criteria to implement the dual function mentioned above (strengthening the network and creating impact).
  5. Functional feedback loops back into the network. Our grant recipients must share a “Learning Exchange Story” of the event in a post to the group “Learning Exchange” and describe the exchange and learning outcomes using at least 300 words–compelling photos and videos are encouraged.