The Essl Foundation and Zero Project

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The Essl Foundation

The Essl Foundation MGE gemeinnützige Privatstiftung is an Austrian Foundation established in 2007 by Martin and Gerda Essl, and their children, for social purposes and scientific research. Its mission is to support social innovation, social entrepreneurship and persons with disabilities. 

    The purpose of the Essl Foundation is to support those in need, in particular to promote proven social innovations and their social entrepreneurs from all over the world, as well as scientific research in this area. They should be made known and taken from a local or regional level to an international level in order to be able to offer their benefits to as many people with disabilities as possible. Every seventh person lives with a disability - that's over 1 billion people worldwide and over 1.2 million in Austria alone. Every third household is affected by a disability.


    • Financing and further development of the Zero Project.
    • Support for social projects, especially in Austria, with a focus on education, employment and accessibility for people with disabilities, as well as barrier-free art education.
    • Active participation in the activities of the Sinnstiftern and member of the association for non-profit foundations.
    • Co-founder of the Haus der Philanthropie, Vienna – an office community for non-profit foundations and related organizations.

    The Essl Foundation is a member of the European Foundation Center (EFC) and has the ECOSOC status of the United Nations.

    Essl Foundation Board Members

    KR Martin Essl (Founder, Chairman), KR Rudolf Humer (Deputy Chairman)

    Gerda Essl, Prof. Dr. Michael Fembek, Dr. Peter Konwitschka, Prof. Dr. Dieter Waldmann

    The Zero Project

    The Zero Project was initiated by the Essl Foundation in 2008, with its mission centred on the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and its commitment to a world with zero barriers. The main topics of the Zero Project are in education, employment, accessibility as well as self-determined life and political participation.

    Zero Project Mission

    Zero Project Timeline

    The Zero Project Team

    The Zero Project International core Team, as well as the Zero Project Austria's Team, are based in the “House of Philanthropy” (Vienna, Austria).

    The Zero Project Latin America Team of Fundación Descúbreme is based in Santiago de Chile.

    These teams organize all Zero Project activities, such as the research, network activities, communications and the Zero Project Conferences.

    Meet the Team