Citizen Projects

Education Projects

28.02.20233 minutes reading time

Michael Otto has long been committed to promoting equal access to education. Participation in culture and the communication of values should be possible for all children and youth, regardless of their background or origin.

The Young ClassX

Since 2008, the youth music project has brought children and youth closer to the world of classical music. Michael Otto is its committed patron. The project was initiated by the Otto Group and the women’s chamber music quartet “Salut Salon” to let Hamburg schoolchildren from thirty-five participating schools sing in a choir, become part of an orchestra, learn instruments, and attend classical music concerts. Furthermore, they bring so-called MusicMobile – something that also now exists in Karlsruhe and Dresden – to concerts, theaters and museums. 30,000 children and adolescents have participated in The Young ClassX events organized with the Elbphilharmonie, the Ensemble Resonanz chamber orchestra and the Dresden State Operetta, to name a few examples, and also held internationally. “Music not only promotes the cognitive and creative abilities of children and young adults, but also their emotional and social intelligence. It is, therefore, of particular importance for the young generation and thus for the future of our society,” says Michael Otto in regards to his commitment. It is also important to him that children and youth, also from less privileged families, can access high-quality music education. The Young ClassX received the OPUS Classic Prize 2022 for Encouraging Youth (OPUS Klassik Preis 2022 für Nachwuchsförderung) in 2022.

HANz! (Hamburg Training Network)

In an interview with the Hamburg Abendblatt newspaper in 2005, Michael Otto said: “It is in the inherent interest of the economy to get even graduates of the lowest level of education into vocational training. Otherwise, we will soon have a problem in Germany’s future labor market due to the declining birth rates.” That was a prophetic statement against the backdrop of today’s shortage of skilled labor. To offer graduates of the lowest level of secondary school (Hauptschule) better opportunities for starting a career, in 1999 Michael Otto partnered with Hapag Lloyd to found the Hamburg network of the “Initiative for Employment.” In cooperation with the Hamburg Senate, Hamburg schools, the Federal Employment Agency, and other companies, it evolved into the Hamburg Hauptschulmodell (Hamburg Hauptschule Model) in 2000, which was renamed HANz! in 2013. During the first ten years of the project, there was a tripling of the number of graduates from the lowest level of secondary school (Hauptschule) who voluntarily began vocational training after school. The model was so successful that it has been adopted by other regions in Germany and by the UK and Switzerland. To this day, it increases the chances for young people whose starting conditions for a professional career are worse than others due to their lower formal qualifications when leaving school.

The Haus Rissen (Rissen Center)

One of Michael Otto’s most heartfelt concerns is a lived understanding of democracy. The Hamburg-based Haus Rissen (Rissen Center) is an institution known throughout Germany for its teaching of democracy. Youths, soldiers, executives and anyone who is interested are trained in a wide range of courses on democratic thought and action. Michael Otto has been a promoter and Chair of the Board of Trustees since 1983.


You will find the CV, interviews and other media here.

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Prof. Dr. Michael Otto being interviewed
Prof. Dr. Michael Otto being interviewed

Prof. Dr. Michael Otto as


Prof. Dr. Michael Otto as