As the country navigates the current public health crisis and begins the long road to recovery, many community initiatives and businesses are rallying together to support the most vulnerable people in society.
One initiative that’s set to provide invaluable support for young people across the country is the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund, which has already donated over €1m to 95 non-profit organisations in Ireland since 2011. It is currently inviting applications from youth-orientated, non-profit groups who provide vital services and support for those that need it most.
Ahead of the launch of the 2020 Coca-Cola Thank You Fund, we spoke to Petre Sandru, country manager, Coca-Cola Ireland, to find out more about the fund. Petre explained how it is one of many initiatives being rolled out by the company to support communities most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Coca-Cola Thank You Fund has made a real difference to youth groups and community organisations since it was established but the financial support it provides is now more important than ever.
“This year is a milestone year for the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund, marking a decade of support for youth-orientated, non-profit groups across the island of Ireland,” Petre explains.
“As we start to realise the impact the Covid-19 crisis is having on young people in our local community, the role of community leaders, non-profit organisations and local youth groups has never been more important.
“Taking all of this into account, this year’s fund has been reimagined to support groups in response to the impact of Covid-19. In recognition of the vulnerable and marginalised young people that have been disproportionately affected by the economic and socio-economic impact of the pandemic, Coca-Cola Thank You Fund grants will be awarded to charities, community and voluntary organisations and NGOs seeking support for initiatives targeted at supporting young people aged 16-25.”
With fundraising efforts severely inhibited as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, this type of funding could provide essential financial support for deserving initiatives.
“As a company we realise the impact that the pandemic has had on fundraising streams for many working in the non-profit sector and how important it is that they have access to funding so they can continue to deliver services to those most vulnerable in our society right now.
“That’s why Coca-Cola is making grants available to those non-profit groups working directly with young people most at risk – building their resilience, meeting the education gaps that exist and tackling the mental health challenges they’re facing today and will continue to face over the coming weeks, months and even years.”
During the early months of the pandemic, The Coca-Cola Company came together with its bottling partner Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and The Coca-Cola Foundation to donate more than $120m globally to organisations to support leading relief efforts.
Locally, through this funding a cash grant was given to social enterprise FoodCloud, which has enabled the charity to deliver the equivalent of 100,000 meals to communities in need. With marketing campaigns paused, the company donated media space to the HSE to support efforts to amplify its public information campaign.
Through global supply chains, it sourced much-needed PPE which was donated to the HSE for use by frontline workers. 600,000 drinks were also donated to healthcare workers and to the most vulnerable groups within the community since March.
This month, the company’s new marketing campaign ‘Open Life Never Before’ has gone live globally. The integrated campaign includes a sustained programme of in-market activities focused on supporting bars, cafes and restaurants in the hospitality sector. The campaign will be providing some of those operating in the sector with access to Coca-Cola’s Ad Generator platform whereby they will be provided with resources and expertise to create their own adverts for digital communications.
As the country navigates our ‘new normal’ and communities assess the impact of the pandemic, grass roots organisations will help to lead the way to recovery. Petre says that the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund was designed as a way for the company to give back to the communities it operates in and in which its customers live.
“In charting a road to recovery, we will need to unlock the talent and potential of all our young people. Youth services in communities across the island of Ireland play a key role in empowering young people and ensuring they can play a part in securing Ireland’s economic recovery in the months and years ahead.”
The projects that the fund supports can have a major impact on the lives of the young people who use them. Speaking at the launch of the 2020 Coca-Cola Thank you Fund, BAFTA-nominated actor Barry Keoghan reiterated the importance of these community initiatives and encouraged groups to apply for this year’s fund.
Originally from Summerhill in Dublin’s north inner city, the rising Hollywood star spoke about how a local community project had a formative influence on his early acting career.
“I think we’re all a little overwhelmed at the moment, but for someone whose only support is their local youth group, this is a particularly difficult time,” Barry says.
“I know my own local community project in Dublin had a massive impact on me. It gave me the confidence to get to where I am today, so to have that connection taken from you when you need it most is scary.
“None of us really know what lies ahead, but youth groups provide a lifeline for young people right across Ireland – they’re the bridge between night and day at times, and the grants available through the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund will help them to provide the services that are changing the course of young Irish people’s lives for the better.”
Applications for this year’s Coca-Cola Thank You Fund are now open. If you’re a youth-orientated non-profit organisation or the leader of a local community group, make sure to apply now on the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund website.