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A fearless defender of Sivistys

The Lifelong Learning Foundation sr. (the Kvs Foundation) is a politically and religiously non-affiliated organisation with a focus on lifelong learning. We promote enlightenment, lifelong learning and adult education. With lifelong learning, we mean coming together to educate ourselves in order to take care of each other and the environment. 

The Kvs Foundation, established in 1874, is the oldest non-affiliated Sivistys foundation in Finland. We have always been a bold promoter of Sivistys, and, these days, we also operate outside of Finland. 

We are an expert in lifelong learning and adult education, and take part in the development of liberal education and advocacy work. Together with our partners, we develop lifelong learning solutions, and our communications are based on research while still remaining accessible. 


Lifelong learning, innovations, and advocacy 

At the core of the foundation’s activities is the promotion of lifelong learning. We maintain the operations of the Southern Helsinki Adult Education Centre and the Kulkuri School of Distance Education for expatriate Finnish children.

In our various projects, we develop new operational models and innovations. All tools created in these projects are freely available for others to use. 

As part of our advocacy work, we publish two learning media, that are open to everyone: Aikuiskasvatus, a peer-reviewed open-access journal on adult education and ELM Magazine, the English-language media on adult education. In addition, we maintain the communications of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA).

The Kvs Foundation also publishes the “Sivistyksen pelottomat” (The Fearless Defenders of Sivistys, in Finnish) blog as a catalyst for discussions. It brings forth bold thoughts on everyday life and education, analytically and with attitude.

The focus of our activities


  • Developing activities nationally (new partnerships) 
  • The digital accessibility of our services 
  • Promoting learning communities (such as starting co-operation on the UNESCO Learning Cities)
Projects and partnerships

International actor

  • Promoting media literacy and lifelong learning 
  • Providing a chance of learning under exceptional circumstances (especially the distance education model) 
  • EU’s New European Agenda for the Adult Education 2022–2030 
International activities


  • Commitment to sustainable development 
  • The OKKA Foundation’s Sustainable Development Certificates 
  • Designing the Circular Economy city block for lifelong learning in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki
The Kvs Foundation’s operational commitment to sustainable development (in Finnish) 

Our dream is a society that values learning as its basis.

Sense of community: We create opportunities for dialogue and communal learning. 

Sustainability: Our operations are transparent. We respect people and environment. 

Curiosity: We challenge prevailing practices and design new solutions. 

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The Lifelong Learning Foundation grants a yearly Sivistys award.

The Sivistys award is given to a current person, group or act, which promotes Sivistys in Finnish society. 

In 2022, Puistokatu 4 and Anne Herlin and Minttu Jaakkola were awarded for their work as defenders of  sivistys and science. Learn more about their work and other award winners. 

The Sivistys award (in Finnish)

The Foundation has a long and colourful history

Did you know that, in the 1880s, the Kvs Foundation introduced Finland to a song fest, which was, at first, considered too earthly and rambunctious? Learn more about how the fest turned into huge events, the legacy of which can be seen in present-day music festivals.  

See also who was the once richest man in Finland who bequeathed his wealth to public education and died in the unrest of 1917. Later on, the Kvs Foundation was involved in the founding of the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle, and still owns six of its stocks. On the other hand, the letter studies during the Continuation War is one of the most peculiar stories along the Foundation’s journey.  

Learn more about the fascinating history of the Kvs Foundation. 

The Foundation’s history
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