Do you know a charity that could use a financial boost? The last year has been particularly tough on organisations across Ireland but the Engage & Educate Fund is here to help.
The €1.2m Fund was created by law firm Mason Hayes & Curran LLP and Rethink Ireland, the Social Innovation Fund of Ireland, in partnership with the Government of Ireland. It aims to back innovative projects that empower young people and adults through education ,enabling people from marginalised communities to access game-changing education programmes.
This is the second phase of the Fund, which will run over the next three years, and is now officially open for applications until June 2.
To find out more, we caught up with one of the Fund’s previous recipients, Joanne Dolan, co-founder of Teen Turn.
Teen Turn is a charity that provides hands-on technology experience to teenage girls from disadvantaged and under-represented communities, inspiring them to see themselves in STEM-oriented careers and make more informed third-level course choices.
“We also provide exam support and long term career development activities,” Joanne explains. “We work with the girls from Junior Cert to job so we start working with them as teenagers and we stay with them. We build science capital when they’re in secondary school and then social capital when they’re in third level so they can get those jobs.
“Because we work with underserved communities there is a very low rate of third level progression, about 15pc in some areas. Among those DEIS students who go onto third level approximately half drop out. It’s very important to create that network.”
According to Joanne, the charity provides more than education support - it’s all about building confidence and helping young women find inspirational mentors that they can look up to.
“Sometimes people see leaders in really senior roles in multinational companies as inaccessible but they’re not at all. We often use the phrase that we’re creating the new girls network. The women meet these girls when they’re maybe junior in their roles and the students are teenagers.
“Five, six, seven years later, the women have gone up to middle and senior management and the girls are graduating from school. Those mentors are now in the position to make hiring decisions or at least strongly recommend people. That social capital is really what it is about.”
Since being awarded from the Engage & Educate Fund, Teen Turn has expanded. They’re now in 10 different counties and work with 44 schools.
“We won a second year and at that stage we could start employing staff which was really the next step. We owe Engage & Educate our strategic plan, our positioning as a legitimised charity and a considered entry into the charity sector. The fact we’re established, well-run and compliant as an organisation is because we had that foundation. The Fund helped us to transition from a grass-root volunteer-led initiative to becoming a charity.”
The Fund is now accepting new applications until June 2. Both Rethink Ireland and Mason Hayes & Curran LLP are encouraging organisations to get involved and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
“We want to provide some support to the charities and organisations that are already involved in trying to close the gap in terms of educational opportunity,” explains Declan Black, Managing Partner, Mason Hayes & Curran LLP.
“Irish people have long valued education and there are tremendous organisations out there as well as a wealth of ideas. All of the large scale data shows that educational attainment correlates very strongly with better life outcomes for people. So that’s the motivational impulse we have and we realise that through both the financial contribution and through volunteering, reviewing applications, interviewing finalists and mentoring successful applicants. Our holistic approach ensures that we have deep engagement with the Fund and Awardees.”
Apply now to the Engage & Educate Fund by 5pm on June 2, 2021. To find out more, visit the Rethink Ireland website today.