Prof Dr Michael Otto sees himself and his family company as a corporate citizen. It is important for him not just to generously provide resources for projects, but also to promote important environmental, social and socio-political projects through his genuinely personal commitment.
Launch support for Ipso Refugee Project in Hamburg
With a donation of several hundred thousand euros at the end of 2016, Prof Dr Michael Otto has secured the launch financing of the International Psychosocial Organisation (Ipso) in Hamburg for 18 months. The objective of Ipso is to help ensure faster, smoother integration for psychologically burdened refugees by providing easy-access psychological support.
The organization has developed a concept to train suitable refugees to become psychosocial advisors, or Ipso Counsellors. Through a culture-sensitive, native-speaker and clearly structured methodology, Ipso Counsellors can help any psychologically vulnerable countryfolk remain able to fend for themselves and actively participate in their own social integration, despite their traumatic experiences.
Counselling can take place on-site, for instance in refugee accommodation and residential communities, at various counselling centres, in companies, or even digitally via the Ipso e‐care platform.
This approach closes a gap between the German social-security systems and medical care. The 12-month counsellor training is officially certified and can be organised by German Federal Job Centres and the Department of Employment under the further-education credits system, meaning that Ipso Counsellors themselves are progressively integrated in a recognized vocational activity within the German labour market.
Initiator and member of the Foundation "KlimaWirtschaft" - German Business Leaders for Climate Protection
In March 2007 Prof Dr Michael Otto set up the Foundation "KlimaWirtschaft" – German Business Leaders for Climate Protection, which has now developed into an affiliation of ten leading representatives of the German economy who want to take responsibility for the best possible prevention of climate change. Their objective is to actively support the German government at national and international level in the development and implementation of a globally aligned, effective, market economy-orientated climate policy to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Through close cooperation with politics and business, any emissions that affect the climate should be rapidly and effectively reduced - and at the same time cutting-edge technologies and innovative business models should be developed to strengthen Germany as a business location.
Support for the World Future Council in Hamburg
The World Future Council, founded in May 2007 is a global forum of scientists, business leaders, artists, theologians and politicians. Dr Michael Otto donated 1.5 million euros in start-up finance to establish Hamburg as the capital of the World Future Council.
The ‘Remembrance, Responsibility and Future’ German Industry Foundation Initiative
Dr Michael Otto along with OTTO and all the national Otto Group subsidiaries joined the ‘Remembrance, Responsibility and Future’ German Industry Foundation Initiative in August 2000. This fund supports activities that contribute to international understanding over the long term.
Promoting education for young people is especially important for Prof Dr Michael Otto. In his projects he is particularly concerned with creating access to values in society.
The Young ClassX Project
The Young ClassX is a unique youth music project that works with more than 2,200 children and young people from a total of 19 Hamburg schools from all over the municipal area. It was initiated by the Otto Group and the Salut Salon music ensemble and works in close cooperation with many relevant partners such as the Elbe Philharmonic Foundation, the ‘Ensemble Resonanz’ or the Ministry for Schools and Vocational Training. The Young ClassX introduces children and young people to the tradition of classical music in new and playful ways. They can get involved with one of the 35 Hamburg district choirs, learn to play an instrument, play in an orchestra or simply listen. The plan includes the use of the project’s own Music Mobile bus to take the children to concerts and events.
The Hamburg Secondary School Model
In 1999, in cooperation with Hapag-Lloyd AG Prof Dr Michael Otto set up the Hamburg-based network known as the ‘initiative for employment’. In 2000, together with the Hamburg Senate, Hamburg schools, the Hamburg Job Centre and Hamburg companies, they developed the strategy behind the ‘Hamburg Secondary School Model’. This model supports the transfer of secondary-school leavers to unsubsidised vocational training programmes directly after obtaining their school-leaving certificate. In the period between 2001 and 2011, with an effective network of 85 Hamburg school locations, the Employment Agency, the Hamburg Senate along with 75 companies and organisations, more than 2,500 Hamburg school leavers with a school leaving certificate were able to be placed in a suitable vocational training programme. This has meant that the number of young people who started on an unsubsidised vocational training programme directly after leaving secondary school has more than tripled, from 6.7 per cent to 21.5 per cent. This model has worked particularly well when integrating secondary school leavers with an immigrant background and from disadvantaged neighbourhoods. 19 regions in Germany have already adopted this model. The Secondary School Model is now even being deployed internationally.
In 2012 Prof Dr Michael Otto handed over a strategy for balanced, tasty, affordable and sustainable school meals to the City of Hamburg – one that Otto and the Helmuth Hübener Hamburg district school in Barmbek-Nord had been developing over two years. It is intended as a template for numerous full-day schools in Hamburg; as well as the meals, it also includes lessons on healthy eating for the schoolchildren.
Prof Dr Michael Otto is a passionate lover of music and art. So supporting projects in this area is something that is close to his heart. He supports numerous projects and institutions in this area, particularly in his home city of Hamburg.
Funding for the Hamburg State Music School
Giving children and young people a musical education is a special concern for Prof Dr Michael Otto , as it promotes the development of character, creativity and social skills. Prof Dr Michael Otto donated millions of euros for the construction of the Music School building in 1999 as well as the new concert hall in 2011.
Funding the construction of the Elbe Philharmonic
Prof. Dr. Michael Otto and his wife Christl supported the construction of the Elbe Philharmonic Concert Hall with a generous donation of 10 million euros.
Support for the Hamburg State Opera
In the past Prof Dr Michael Otto has also supported the Hamburg State Opera with regular contributions, as well as the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the Philharmonie of the Nations.
Support for the Museum of Hamburg History
On the 800th Hamburg Port Anniversary Prof Dr Michael Otto gave the Museum of Hamburg History a present of a new glass roof over its inner courtyard. Prof Dr Otto also contributed financially to the Attica figures on the roof of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce by the Worpswede artist, Prof. Waldemar Otto.
Initiator and Chairman of the Friends of the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg
As a friend of the arts and as a committed patron of the fine arts, Prof Dr Michael Otto set up the Friends of the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, a group of private patrons who provide financial support for selected student projects. Prof Dr Michael Otto is the chairman of this circle of friends.
Support for the Hamburg Art Gallery
Prof Dr Michael Otto has supported the Kunsthalle Hamburg in the past in various individual projects through the purchase of pictures