Sunday 18 August 2019

Former Coca-Cola Thank You Fund winners reveal how grants benefited their community groups

Petre Șandru, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Ireland (right) pictured with Clara Ryder, Brian Conaghan, Elaina Ryan, Amber Furssedonn Coates and Guide Dog Noah at the launch of the 2019 Coca-Cola Thank You Fund.
Petre Șandru, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Ireland (right) pictured with Clara Ryder, Brian Conaghan, Elaina Ryan, Amber Furssedonn Coates and Guide Dog Noah at the launch of the 2019 Coca-Cola Thank You Fund.

If you work with a youth organisation or community group, you’ll know the challenges involving in getting funding for these vital services. That’s where the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund comes in, with almost €1m donated to 83 community, social and education programmes across the island of Ireland since its establishment in 2011.

To date, €955,000 has been given to non-profit organisations.

With a further €100,000 to be donated in 2019, the fund is set to achieve a major milestone when it breaks the €1m mark this year.

It is currently accepting applications from charities, community groups, voluntary organisations, sporting groups and NGOs that support and empower young people in their local area.

The fund was set up eight years ago on Coca-Cola’s 125th anniversary to give something back to local communities throughout the island. It provides funding for innovative projects that promote education and training, diversity and inclusion in young people and those that take an innovative approach to demonstrating sustainability.

Operated in partnership with The Irish Youth Foundation and Youth Action Northern Ireland, we spoke with some former winners to find out how the Coca-Cola Fund has benefited their work.

How the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund helped previous winners

Last year, Autism Support Louth and Meath were awarded €10,000 by the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund and the money helped them to fund some much-needed projects.

“The money received from the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund has been such a bonus to our group and our projects,” says Autism Support Louth and Meath’s Jacinta Walsh.

“It has given us some additional funding which has and is enabling extra projects and activities with the teenagers and young adults in our youth clubs. For example, we started a new music and drama class for young members due entirely to the additional funding from the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund.”

The win helped to promote the activities of the organisation, while also giving them the financial security they needed to plan and implement new projects.

“There was a great sense of pride within the group on winning the award,” adds Jacinta. “It gave us a great boost of confidence. It is great to be able to plan some extra activities confident that we have the funds to support them.”

Jacinta says that the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund made a real difference to Autism Support Louth and Meath and urges other organisations who are in need of funding to apply for a grant.

“We would definitely recommend entering to other groups. Firstly, the application process is a good opportunity to realise and summarise the good work your group does and then, if you win an award, there is a confidence and of course a funding boost.”

For Children's Books Ireland, the €10,000 they received from last year’s fund allowed them to reach some of the people that needed their services the most. Coca-Cola’s belief in their project helped them to realise their ambitions, according to Elaina Ryan, Director of Children's Books Ireland.

“The Coca-Cola Thank You Fund saw the value in our project and backed us even though they knew it wasn’t going to be easy to succeed,” explains Elaina.

“They enabled us to work with young people in family hubs who are experiencing some of the most challenging times of their lives. We know that reading can provide an escape and bring some joy as well as having so many educational benefits. If we can turn teenagers into readers through having brilliant books available and bringing a writer into their spaces, we’ll have had an incredible impact.”

One of the obvious benefits of winning is that it can help to fund vital services that would otherwise be impossible to implement.

Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind were awarded €5,000 by the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund 2018 and those funds have allowed them to pilot a brand new initiative called the Career and Education Programme.

“The programme will take place for the first time in July this year and will help to support students who are blind or visually impaired to attain and sustain third level education and ensure successful transition into the workforce,” John Burke, Corporate Partnership Manager at Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind explained.

“The programme will focus on physical health, practical work experience, assistive technology, sustaining mental well-being and promoting positive self-esteem. It will aim to increase retention in third level education for students and aid in a successful progression to the workforce by establishing knowledge and practical links to existing community support and resources.”

The Coca-Cola Thank You Fund’s application form invites people to select the funding amount that is most suitable to their project - €5,000, €10,000 or €20,000. Applicants must submit a 50-word summary of their project online to say why they deserve to be awarded this grant.

A total of 20 shortlisted projects will be announced in August and the winners of the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund 2019 will be honoured in October at Ireland’s largest youth conference, Zeminar. This year will also see the return of The People’s Choice Award, with members of the public voting for their favourite project from the final 20 shortlisted organisations.

The closing date for applications is Friday, July 12, 2019.

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 with an innovative idea to support and inspire young people, apply now on the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund website for your chance to secure grants of €5,000 to €20,000.

Sponsored by: CocaCola

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