L to R: Terence O'Rourke, Chair of Social Innovation Fund Ireland; Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Social Innovation Fund Ireland; Lisa Cox, Blue Diamond Drama Academy (2019 Awardee); Michael Doran, Co-Head of Real Estate at Mason Hayes & Curran and Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Canney TD.
Breaking down barriers to Education and social inclusion has been at the heart of the Engage & Educate Fund, a three year, €450,000 fund established in 2017 by Mason Hayes & Curran, and Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) with support from the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund. The Fund provides support to projects that empower people through education to achieve their full potential and to contribute to their communities.
Today the third and final distribution of funds to the 2019 Awardees has been announced by Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Canney TD. €150,000 will be shared by five successful Awardees including projects that address the lack of third level education and employment opportunities available to adults with intellectual disabilities and the challenges Traveller children face in mainstream school. In addition, each organisation will participate in an Accelerator Programme that provides mentoring, tailored training, bespoke business supports, and access to a peer network.
One of this year’s Awardees, Write to Read, has already helped 4,200 children through their high-quality literacy programme and, with this new investment from the Engage & Educate Fund, they’re aiming to develop a three-year strategy to scale the programme to a national level.
Another Awardee, Teen Turn, has provided hands-on learning and ongoing skills development to 319 girls in or completing secondary school and with the support of the Engage & Educate Fund, they will be able to reach out to rural girls interested in STEM subjects, increase participation numbers and develop a communications platform for their Alumni and mentors.
Excluding the projects announced today, in the first two years of the Engage & Educate Fund, eight inspiring projects, whose activities range from teaching English to migrants, to drama skills for those with intellectual disabilities, received over €300,000 in cash and business supports. As a result, these organisations, with operations in 10 counties across Ireland, have delivered services to 2,000 people, expanded their operations and secured over €700,000 in follow-on funding.
Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Canney TD said: “The achievements of each of today’s Awardees are truly inspiring. Each project is helping progress various groups to higher levels of education and setting them up with a greater chance of full-time employment. The wide diversity of projects being awarded today is also great to see which each of them playing an important part in providing support and access to educational opportunities for a wide variety of disadvantaged groups.’’
Michael Doran, Partner, Mason Hayes & Curran said: “Education is one of the most powerful tools in tackling disadvantage in Ireland. We believe that if members of our community experience barriers and restrictions to accessing education, they won’t reach their full potential or contribute fully to society. It is why we focus our CSR efforts on education and access projects to reduce barriers and disadvantage.
“Our Partnership with the Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) over the last three years has allowed us, through the establishment of the Engage & Educate Fund to support and fund educational projects that address critical social issues in Ireland. It has increased our reach across Ireland and connected us to communities that we might otherwise not be aware of or able to assist. The matched-funding from the Department of Rural & Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund meant we could double the financial supports and have a greater impact.
“Having seen at first hand this increased impact - organisations growing as the result of the accelerator programme, expanding their operations and reaching more people, we hope that this partnership model with SIFI will be replicated by other organisations”.
Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: “With 3,300 people leaving school every year without a qualification, unless and until we create change, these young people will become disenfranchised and their talents lost to us as a society. Non-profit organisations, like those funded by the Engage & Educate Fund provide nimble solutions that are reaching those who cannot access mainstream education or for whom the education system simply does not work.
“This Fund is committed to supporting access to inclusive education, and to remove the barriers to access, with a particular focus on people experiencing disadvantage, people with disabilities or migrants. Today’s Awardees join a fantastic group of Engage & Educate Fund alumni - each one of whom are empowering people through education, helping them achieve their full potential and contribute to their communities.
“Mason Hayes & Curran was the first indigenous firm to establish a social fund with SIFI. Their vision and partnership over the past three years have been transformational and is a standard bearer for companies who are genuine in their efforts to put their values into action by supporting their communities and developing a fairer, more inclusive society”.
The 2019 Engage & Educate Fund Awardees are:
Blue Diamond Drama Academy, a project that addresses the lack of third level education and employment opportunities available to adults with intellectual disabilities;
MUSIKA Programme, a programme which addresses the challenges of opportunity and interaction for Asylum Seeker and Refugee community in Waterford.
Early Family Programme, a project created as a result of concerns for challenges Traveller children face in mainstream schooling.
Teen Turn, a programme that provides role models and hands-on experience to teenage girls from disadvantaged communities in order to encourage and enable the kind of school performances that lead to post-secondary STEM courses and qualifications.
Write to Read, a professional development project that supports teachers to design and deliver high-quality literacy programmes for children in DEIS schools.
Each successful applicant will also receive access to an accelerator programme that provides mentoring, tailored training, bespoke business supports, and access to a peer network