We support young people in discovering their needs and fostering capacities. We strengthen their strengths and show ways. We accompany and capacitate them, making them find their position in the game of life and feel as a valuable part of society. (Managing director)

RheinFlanke is a social enterprise engaged in the field of Child and Youth Welfare (mobile youth work), founded in the city of Cologne in 2006/7. Their core idea is to reach deprived adolescents via open sports programs (football) and help them to develop and enhance their social skills. The enterprise is led by its two founders who are supported by a board of trustees (most of them celebrities from TV, politics and local economy), and a supervisory board. It currently employs 30 staff (soon 50) and only marginally resorts to volunteers. RheinFlanke’s outreach capacity is regional, with a center based in Cologne and continuous expansion to several neighboring cities since 2008. RheinFlanke generates its annual budget of about 1.5 Million Euro through project funding from public authorities (70%) and support from several (big) foundations and individual celebrities (30%). No income is generated by final users. Its legal status is that of a gGmbH – a private limited liability company with public benefit status.

RheinFlanke brings together football and education in the work with disadvantaged adolescents (“football as a social engine”). Football serves on the one hand as a starting point to reach adolescents in socially weak neighborhoods. On the other hand, it provides a setting to develop and enhance their social skills – such as fairness, responsibility, and tolerance. RheinFlanke’s target group are adolescents, in practice predominantly male, aged between 14 and 18, and with migration background. Many of them are in the transition between school and working life.

The enterprise’s focus is on ‘mobile’ youth work, offered presently in all eight sites (cities). Next to football training it also includes dancing courses, individual counseling or job application trainings. Employees approach adolescents on football grounds, playfields or schoolyards, get in contact and then try to build mutual trust through ‘open’ (free of charge and without previous registration) sports offers. In addition to that, RheinFlanke executes several particular projects offered in one or more of its sites. Amongst them count the street football project ‘Mais que uma bola’; RheinFlanke’s most comprehensive program ‘NRWork for you’ which particularly addresses adolescents in the transition from school to working life; or ‘Generationendialog’ (generational dialogue), an initiative targeting at political education. In sum, RheinFlanke estimates its programs to reach about 1,200 adolescents weekly. Although football is RheinFlanke’s flagship and starting point to get in contact with its target group, many adolescents later resort to their other offers. These tend to go far beyond football and include social individual and group work, counseling and training and aim at helping them in the difficult transition from school to professional life.

When RheinFlanke was founded the idea of connecting football and education in youth work was still in an experimental stage in Germany and offered in other cities only. Therefore, the enterprise sees itself as a pioneer who brought the idea to Cologne (North Rhine-Westphalia). Moreover, it serves as a multiplier as in the last years several other initiatives emerged. In this context, RheinFlanke also provides support for and accompanies municipalities and other youth welfare organizations in the implementation of sports education models.