Rethink Ireland support several projects across DCU. What first inspired you to get behind the university?
At Rethink Ireland, we evaluate the impact that an organisation or project can have upon the wider society. We provide grants and support to those that we feel can make a real difference to people’s lives. For us, it was clear to see that DCU’s main objective is to do just that and they strive to reach this goal through a number of projects. We feel that DCU has a great reach across society, in relation to who they impact in a positive way, be it their students, the community, the education system or those without clean water. For this reason, we are proud to support DCU on a variety of initiatives.
Rethink Ireland has supported the DCU Access to the Workplace Programme since it was first established in 2019. What drew you to this project in particular?
For us at Rethink, this one was all about equality and how the programme works to level opportunities for all, no matter their background. Like DCU, we wholeheartedly believe in equal opportunity and felt it was of great importance to get behind this programme which helps those from marginalised or disadvantaged backgrounds to get their foot in the door in the workplace. We are aware that people from such backgrounds may not be presented with the same opportunities as others. Getting professional work placements can be quite competitive and not everyone has the advantage of knowing someone in the industry they wish to break into.
Providing students with opportunities to develop in their future careers is something we are happy to stand behind. It is great to see the programme still thriving in the midst of Covid. There is clearly an appetite from the corporate world and a need for these students to be given the chance they deserve. Again, we see the evidence of impact through this programme and also the national reach it has had as a model for other universities.
DCU recently launched the DCU Changemaker Schools Network, a social initiative to help primary school teachers and students to develop and lead programmes of change in their schools and wider communities. Rethink Ireland has supported this project from the beginning, along with the FUSE primary project against bullying. What motivates Rethink Ireland to support these programmes?
There is clearly a need for these programmes in Irish schools and for children and young people in the 21st century. It is great to see the Changemaker Network providing an opportunity for young people to show leadership, teamwork and empathy around issues and to get the opportunity to be heard and put their ideas into action. We see these projects as critical for children’s personal and social development. Also, helping children to understand the effects bullying can have, is extremely important. We must teach, inspire and empower children to develop their conscientious and social thinking and we’re happy to support that at Rethink. The FUSE programme gives young people the tools they need to tackle issues such as bullying in Irish society. Embedding this ideology into kids at a young age makes all the difference and leads to a long lasting positive effect that will continue to have an impactful and widespread result.
About Rethink Ireland:
Rethink Ireland (previously Social Innovation Fund Ireland) provides cash grants and business support to charities and social enterprises working in Irish communities across the country. These are the organisations not just thinking differently, but who are putting their ideas into practice and building a more inclusive Ireland. They work with companies, families, individuals and foundations who understand new thinking in Ireland is needed. Every euro they donate to Rethink Ireland is matched by the Irish Government from the Dormant Accounts Fund.
About Pádraig Fitzgerald:
Pádraig Fitzgerald is a Fund Manager at Rethink Ireland. Pádraig graduated from NUI Maynooth with a BA in History & Philosophy and received an MA in International Relations from UCC. Pádraig previously worked as the International Programmes Manager for an NGO operating in West Bengal, India, responsible for the organisation’s programme management for 60 projects that worked in the areas of Education, Healthcare and Protection. Pádraig joined Rethink Ireland in 2021 as a Fund Manager and manages the Children Youth Education and Mental Health Funds as well as the Children & Youth Digital Solutions Fund.