record breaking €7m fund rewards ireland’s educational innovators
The winners of the Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI)’s Education Fund were announced on Tuesday 24th October by the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, at an event at Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. Worth €7 million, the fund is one of the most significant investments of private philanthropy in programmes that tackle educational disadvantage.
The Education Fund is the largest SIFI fund to date and is made up of 50% private philanthropic funding, self-raised by the awardees. The other half comes from Government, through the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund.
The 10 awardees, have demonstrated innovation in education service provision that tackles educational disadvantage, and will share the €7 million include; Cork Life Centre, Trinity Centre for People with Disabilities, and An Cosán Virtual Community College, among others. The Education Fund has identified the “best in class” innovative education programmes that serve as models of excellence in overcoming inequalities in education with a long-term positive impact on their young and adult learners, their families and communities. Proving and improving their impact, these projects have strong potential to be replicated across Ireland with a view to creating a community of innovators who have the collective ability to create systemic change. Innovation in funding.
As part of the application for this fund, projects applied with philanthropic funding secured by them, to be matched by SIFI, to provide an uplift on the projects’ funds. This approach to funding is a celebration of the power of collaboration between private and public sectors. Each awardee secured funding through a variety of methods including corporate sponsorship, alumni donations and fundraising techniques such as community raffles. The Education Fund match fund encapsulates the idea of ‘smart giving’ and illustrates the power of a great idea, a passionate leader, savvy donors and government incentives.
The winning projects’ work with a wide range of people who experience educational disadvantage. Some work with young people in schools, some work with adults who left school early in life and now get a second chance at education, and some work with people with special needs or different abilities in life to enable them to get qualifications. Demonstrating outcomes Unique to the Education Fund is the focus on evaluation. Each project participates in an external group evaluation by NUI Galway’s UNESCO Child & Family Centre, that will enable them to build up rich data and demonstrate clear outcomes at the end of the programme. It aims to show how transformative the project has been for its participants, so that others can learn from and adopt it.
Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton TD said: “I’m delighted to announce the winners of Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI)’s Education Fund today and I congratulate all those who have been successful. I have set out the ambition to make Ireland’s Education service the best in Europe within a decade. Some of the initiatives that we see here today, show real innovation in tackling some of the challenges we face in education, particularly in the area of breaking down cycles of disadvantage, and will most definitely contribute towards our realisation of this ambition. Furthermore, the Education Fund is a celebration of the power of collaboration between the private and public sectors and it’s great to see SIFI showing the potential of both to work in partnership together to deliver real results”.
Deirdre Mortell, CEO of SIFI said: “Education has a huge impact on our later lives; how much money we earn, the kind of job that we can get, and our capacity to support older parents or young children. Most especially, it affects the confidence that we have as we progress in life. It has the power to lift you out of disadvantage or exclusion onto a new life trajectory. Early school leaving and exclusion can have a devastating impact on that potential. It is with that in mind that we set up the Education Fund. People experience educational disadvantage for many reasons, including poverty, ill health, mental health issues, or disability. We believe the Education Fund helps people who have been excluded to get qualifications and build new lives for themselves.
Full List of Winners
1. An Cosán Virtual Community College (VCC) An Cosán VCC (Virtual Community College) have developed an innovative entry level model of higher education aimed at isolated and disadvantaged communities by offering a blended model of online learning, including live online classes, face-to-face workshops, mentoring, and online resources, all at a pace that suits the learner. Most of the learners who engage with VCC are taking their first steps into higher education, and for some it is their first step back to education at any level. VCC’s holistic, learner-centred model puts the learner at the heart of the project.
Who benefits? People who struggle with disadvantage, urban and rural isolation, early school leavers, lone parents, long term unemployed, travellers, Roma and those in direct provision, across Ireland.
2.Aspire2, a collaborative partnership between schools, students and key stakeholders from the education sector. The vision of the Aspire 2 programme is to redress the systemic inequality in Irish education by supporting students who live in areas of educational disadvantage to increase their prospects of completing the leaving certificate and progressing to third level education.
Who benefits? Leaving Certificate Students in Dublin and Cork.
3. Cork Life Centre provides a community of support and learning to young people who have not been able to reach their potential in mainstream educational settings. A holistic approach provides outreach and a wrap-around service to young people based on individual needs.
Who benefits? A diverse cohort of young people (12-18 years) who have had to leave school for a variety of reasons including social, personal, academic & health-related issues in Cork.
4. Churchfield Community Trust uses education and work experience as a means of alcohol and drug deterrence. Churchfield Community Trust offers training, work and enterprise skills with a particular focus on Adult Education, Woodwork, Painting and Horticulture. They bridge the gaps in formal education through Computer Skills, Cookery and Literacy.
Who benefits? Adults who are at risk or who have a criminal record in Cork.
5. Focus Ireland “PETE – Preparation for Education Training and Employment” PETE is an Education Programme which aims to provide support to adults who have reached out to homeless services, to facilitate their journey into mainstream education, training or employment.
Who benefits? People at risk of homelessness, who have experienced homelessness, and who are experiencing homelessness.
6. Fast Track Academy “City Wise Education and IT Tallaght”. The Fast Track Academy develops academic and social skills by a tailored teaching support, mentoring, career guidance & work placements to improve numbers of students in West Tallaght progressing to third level education.
Who benefits? Students in West Tallaght, Dublin aged between 15-19 years.
7. iScoil is an online learning community that offers an alternative path to learning, accreditation and progression for young people. iScoil provides an inclusive solution to address educational disadvantage and to ensure that young people have access to achieve and progress in their lives.
Who benefits? Early school leavers or those at risk of leaving school aged between 13-18 years across Ireland.
8. Speedpak Group – Enhanced Skills Traineeship Speedpak Group operates commercial businesses to support people get back to work by providing real work experience, accredited industry training, mentoring and tailored supports. The combination of trading and training transforms lives. Matching local talent with available jobs provides trainees with greater financial independence through their employment and job resilience through education.
Who benefits? People who are long term unemployed, for 12 months or more, living on Dublin’s Northside.
9. Trinity Development and Alumni ‘’Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities’’ Trinity Centre provides an advanced education programme for young people with Intellectual disabilities. This programme is designed to enable young people with intellectual disabilities to make the transition to employment and/or further education and to lead more independent adult lives. Who benefits? Adults with Intellectual disabilities across Ireland
10. Trinity Development and Alumni “Trinity Access 21” Trinity Access 21 is an innovative university led school outreach programme that empowers students, supports 21st century learning environments and strengthens “college going” cultures in DEIS schools.
Who benefits? Second level school students across DEIS schools in Laois, Offaly, Kerry and Dublin