Coca‑Cola has awarded €100,000 to community projects serving young people across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Following an extensive judging process, involving hundreds of applicants, Coca‑Cola announced this year’s Thank You Fund award recipients at a celebration at Zeminar, Ireland’s largest youth conference (RDS Dublin) on Thursday 12th October.

A total of €100,000 has been granted to 14 community groups across Ireland and Northern Ireland for innovative projects that will support and inspire young people.

 

I have been overwhelmed by the diversity, thoughtfulness and potential impact of the projects that have received funding today through the Thank You Fund. I am humbled by the people working in communities throughout the island of Ireland and believe that the impact of the work they do with young people has an immeasurable impact on our society. I look forward to staying in touch with the recipients as these projects come to fruition. PJ Gallagher, Coca‑Cola Thank You Fund ambassador

The five organisations to receive €10,000 grants are: The Little Museum of Dublin; An Cosán; Foróige; CDYS Ltd, Leave No Trace Ireland; and Girls’ Brigade. The judges selected these projects for larger grants as they felt that each of them were unique and compelling and that with the €10k investment they could achieve sustainable impacts in their communities.      

  • The Little Museum of Dublin will invest the grant in a bespoke photographic exhibition entitled 'A Woman's Work' that will document strong women in predominantly male professions. Throughout the three-month period, the exhibition aims to foster diversity and inspire young women to pursue their passions. 
  • An Cosán, an organisation based in Jobstown, Tallaght will use the funding to develop a programme for young men from disadvantaged areas to enable them to come together in a safe space, and overcome barriers to employment or further education. 
  • Foróige Sligo/ Leitrim has received funding for its Big Brother Big Sister programme. This innovative pilot programme matches an adult volunteer to a young person with autism who is of the same gender with similar interests and compatible personalities, helping them to navigate social, educational or work-related experiences. 
  • Also receiving €10k is Leave No Trace Ireland whose project promotes integration between communities in Ireland and empowers young people at risk of social exclusion. It provides opportunities for young people from a variety of backgrounds to take part in voyages along the Irish coastline on sail training vessels with a view to developing confidence and a sense of self-worth. 
  • The Antrim-based Girls’ Brigade project aims to give young women across Northern Ireland who are members of the Brigade (aged 14 – 25) the opportunity to train as leaders in developing a positive mental health programme and share these learning with the wider population of the Brigade. 
  • The final €10k grant recipient, CDYS Ltd. in Cork, aims to bridge the divide between education and the workplace, fostering inclusion among young people. By partnering with iScoil - an online learning service – a blended learning centre for young people aged 13-16 will be established for those not in mainstream education.

An additional eight organisations will each receive €5,000 for programmes that will have an impact in their communities. 

  • The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a voluntary, non-competitive programme of activities for anyone aged 14-24. The purpose of this project is to embed the Joint Award Initiative in three organisations which previously have no experience or history of offering the Award. 
  • Oasis Caring in Action Antrim will use the funding to finance its project Antrim Young Mums Together, which is a group of mums who have come together with the aim of providing a dedicated service to teenage and young mums under the age of 25 in their area. This project has been developed by young mums for young mums and seeks to address the many social, emotional, and practical difficulties they face and to give them aspiration for a better future with the opportunity of developing employability skills. 
  • Willowfield Parish Community Association will support the many young people aged 18-25 in the local community have left school with little or no qualifications. This group is struggling to find work opportunities, which leaves them feeling worthless and downbeat about their future. This project seeks to connect with those who find themselves in this situation and get them involved in activities which will help others in their local community. 
  • All Together in Dignity - ATD Fourth World Ireland will leverage the funding for its 'Ireland, I Have a Dream' project which will invite young members of communities in Ireland living in persistent poverty to write a speech inspired by Martin Luther King’s legacy. Through this creative writing process, they want their community members to find strength in sharing their experiences, finding their individual and collective voice with the aim of empowering participants and inspiring others to keep fighting to stop poverty. 
  • The Ulster GAA Youth Leaders Programme aims to empower young GAA volunteers to play a full role in the operations and decision making of their GAA club. It will develop leaders of today and leaders of the future by assisting young GAA volunteers to develop their knowledge and skills, across a range of areas which impact on the Association. 
  • The project by Co-operation Ireland will increase young people’s understanding of the Brexit process and its potential impact on their lives, now and in the future. By facilitating young people from different backgrounds, North and South, the implications of Brexit will be discussed and with support, these young people will be empowered to identify and lobby for their concerns and priorities in the Brexit negotiation process. 
  • The NI Youth Forum’s Without Boundaries project will foster diversity and inclusion among young people by addressing islamophia across the region. Through the application of youth interventions and academic input they will explore Islam, increase the understanding in Ireland and empower young people to take on leadership roles within NI Youth Forum and beyond. 
  • Start 360’s Changemakers project will see young people going into their community to spread positivity through acts of kindness. The young people will engage with communities and explore different concepts that will improve the lives of residents within.

Matthieu Seguin, General Manager, Coca‑Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland said, "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 to deliver projects and schemes that otherwise might not happen.

"It is clear from hundreds of entries we received that a lot of time and effort was invested in this process. I would like to thank everyone who participated and specifically to congratulate those who were successful.

"It is important that the next generation of our society are given every possible opportunity to reach their full potential and we hope that the funding provided through the Thank You Fund will make a difference in the lives of those who have the opportunity to participate in the programmes."

Speaking today, June Trimble MBE, Director, YouthAction Northern Ireland, said the projects selected had the potential to transform the lives of young people.

“The best way to reach young people and help them acquire skills that they will use throughout their lives is by getting them involved with groups that serve their passions. There is no such thing as one size fits all, and the projects funded by the Coca‑Cola Thank You Fund will appeal to a broad cross section of young people. All are designed to make a strategic and impactful intervention in their lives and our communities stand to benefit as participants go on to set a positive example among their peer group,” she said.

By investing in community groups that specifically target youth, Coca‑Cola is aiming to support those who provide targeted interventions for young people, helping to keep them interested in certain activities or providing supports and networks that help them to make the right decisions as they move from teenage years to young adulthood.

Since the Thank You Fund was launched in 2011 it has invested a total of €855k in community groups and non-profit organisations throughout the island of Ireland.