Meet the 2018 'Thank You Fund' winners who are empowering local communities
The weeks leading up to Christmas are sometimes referred to as the giving season, when people consider what causes they should support in the midst of seasonal goodwill. But for many community groups throughout Ireland, ‘giving back’ is a year-round passion and commitment.
These groups work tirelessly to improve the lives of others from one end of the year to the other and Coca-Cola has been recognising the work that they do with its annual Thank You Fund. Now in its eighth year, the Thank You Fund has donated over €955,000 to 83 non-profit organisations in Ireland to help them achieve their goals with specific projects.
The Thank You Fund was set up in 2011 to celebrate Coca-Cola’s 125th anniversary. To date, the company has supported causes that have improved the lives of ordinary people and empowered local communities, generally making the world that little bit better. Some examples include the development of safe online communities with Turn2Me and providing the young people of Inishbofin with vital life skills through the Inishbofin Community Project.
Each year, the Thank You Fund focuses on a different overall theme and this year’s theme is ‘Working with Communities in Ireland and Northern Ireland to Inspire and Support Young People.’ Those who applied were “non-profit organisations with new ideas aimed at bridging the divide between education and the workplace, fostering diversity and inclusion, empowering young people to become leaders of the future and supporting youths taking an innovative approach to sustainability in local communities.”
There were 13 groups selected to receive a total of €100,000 in donations from the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund. The winners were announced on Tuesday at Ireland’s largest youth conference, Zeminar. Funding was divided into €10,000 and €5,000 amounts.
Petre Sandru, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Ireland, thanked all the organisations who applied for Thank You Fund grants this year and the judges who helped select the winners.
“We are delighted to invest in young people in our communities but it is important to us that the funding provided through the Thank You Fund is a catalyst for new thinking and helps support the delivery of projects and schemes that otherwise might not happen,” said Mr Sandru. “We are grateful to our distinguished panel of judges who met all our shortlisted groups and had the difficult task of determining who was to receive funding.
“I would like to thank everyone who took the time to enter and specifically to congratulate those who were successful. I particularly look forward to next year when we will reach a significant milestone in the Thank You Fund as we celebrate giving over €1million in funding to non-profits since 2011.”
This year saw the introduction of The People’s Choice Award, which was won by Love and Care for People, who received €5,000 in funding from the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund. Their prize will be invested in a project that aims to equip young people with skills to care for their mental health and wellbeing. It’s the only migrant-led organisation in Cork focused on providing support to ethnic minorities, including disadvantaged children, young people and women.
There were 12 other organisations recognised and celebrated on the night, each awarded with funding from Coca-Cola to bring their projects to life.
Autism Support Louth & Meath (€10,000)
This group offers support services for families of both children and adults who are affected by autism. Through the donation they received, they’ll launch a project entitled “Capacity Building through Drama & Music for Young Adults with Autism or Communication Difficulties”. The project will encourage young adults with autism to become more directly involved with their local community, with a focus on confidence building and empowerment through artistic expression.
Blossom Ireland Community Inclusion (€10,000)
Blossom Ireland provides therapy-led summer camps for children and teens with disabilities. Their Coca-Cola Thank You Fund donation will go towards the Blossom Teen Development Programme, an educational programme that will equip teenagers with the specific sets of skills they’ll need for life outside of the service. It aims to give them a clear plan and achievable goals, as well as providing them with a sustainable support network. By the time the participants leave the service at 20-years-of-age, they should feel more confident, informed and secure about the next stage of their lives.
Children’s Books Ireland (€10,000)
The goal of this project is to provide homeless teenagers in Family Hubs in Dublin with access to books. Children’s Books Ireland wants to build a library for the teenagers and give them a Patron of Reading who will visit the hubs and engage them in books and, in turn, inspire them with a love of reading.
County Wexford Youth Film Project (€5,000)
This group is based in St Michael’s Theatre in New Ross, Co Wexford. Their Coca-Cola Thank You Fund project is called Making the Cut. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for young people to develop their creative potential through filmmaking. Through their donation, they will supply two editing suites for budding filmmakers to master their craft.
Dublin North West Area Partnership (€5,000)
This group looks at tackling unemployment for residents of Finglas, Cabra and Ballymun. Their Coca-Cola Thank You Fund project donation will go towards a project that will bridge the divide between education and the workplace by empowering youths through creative workshops and performances. In addition, the project will teach participants about positive life choices, build their confidence and equip them with self-efficacy and leadership skills.
Global Action Plan (€5,000)
Global Action Plan is based in the Axis Theatre in Ballymun. The organisation aims to create sustainable communities across Ireland, focusing on people and how they can take practical action to achieve it. Their project’s goal is to use the GLAS (Green Living and Sustainability) Centre as a hub of learning for young Ballymun residents. The group aims to create a Community Champion who will highlight the importance of their local biodiversity project in protecting their natural and cultural heritage.
Include Youth (€10,000)
Include Youth is a regional rights-based charity in Northern Ireland. Its Coca-Cola Thank You Fund donation will help create a youth-led and youth-focused conference “with a difference” in Belfast. The group hopes to bring together a committee of young people to act as ‘Experts by Experience’ and take the lead on workshops, themes and the general running of the event.
Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind (€5,000)
The proposed project from Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind aims to give young people with vision impairment who are entering third level education the social skills to survive college life. The funding will allow them to provide these young people with access to technology, mobility and various equipment, tools will make a seamless transition into college life, and their subsequent career.
Mary Peters Trust (€10,000)
Mary Peters is a Northern Irish Olympic athlete who won gold at the 1972 games in Munich. The trust in her name helps both disabled and able-bodied youths achieve their sporting ambitions. The Trust’s Coca-Cola Thank You Fund donation will be invested into a project that will train young people who excel in their sport to become coaches.
Northern Ireland Youth Forum (€5,000)
The youth organisation will use their funding to tackle racism and hate crimes in their communities. The project will encourage young people from various backgrounds to become community activists through educational and community relations programmes.
Patrician Youth Centre (€10,000)
This is a voluntary youth centre serving people in Downpatrick, Co Down. With the support of the donation, the centre will work with a group of young people to help them become volunteers. Through group work, the young people will assess their own prejudices and how these are manifested in order to work through the associated issues.
Willowfield Parish Community Association (€10,000)
This East Belfast group will invest their funding into a project that enables young people in the area to engage with positive leadership principles, as well as helping them with personal development and community ownership.
Do you have a worthy cause or project that needs funding? You can apply for 2019’s Coca-Cola Thank You Fund. Don’t forget to specify what size of grant (€5,000 or €10,000) would be most suitable for realising your project.
To find out more go to Thank You Fund FAQs.