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Aspire2 featured in Irish Examiner Article on Social Innovation Fund Ireland

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Aspire2 was amongst a small number of community projects which also included Sensational Kids, which assists children across the country with additional needs; and Tallaght-based Citywise which has substantially increased the number of young people going on to third level education in the area.

Here is an excerpt from the article, or click here for the full article.

Five years ago, chief executive of DPS Engineering, Frank Keogh was looking through the yearly Irish Times schools to university feeder league tables.

He was struck at the vast gap between schools in so-called affluent areas and those not traditionally affluent. In Cork alone, progression was near 100% in schools such as PBC, CBC and Scoil Mhuire, while in areas such as Cork’s northside or Ballyfermot in Dublin it was as low as 20%.

In 2015 DPS began its Aspire2 programme, which aims to bridge the gap and enhance numbers going on to third level in these areas.

Initially partnering with two schools in Dublin and two in Cork, Aspire2 now works with six schools and has assisted 600 students by offering not just financial help, but supports including mentoring from DPS employees, work placements, youth advisory panels, and a wide range of in-school initiatives. These have included extra tuition, personal development workshops, Gaeltacht scholarships, cultural visits, motivational workshops, and after-school study hubs.

Aspire2 aims to support students in their personal growth and development; motivate and encourage them to complete their second level education successfully; help them achieve Leaving Certificate results that reflect their true potential; provide them with opportunities to progress further through the education system; and help them realise their potential.

It is closely supported by UCC and CIT, as well as UCD, Trinity College, and IT Tallaght.

Aspire2 project manager Janice McGarry said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with like-minded partners on this programme over the last number of years. The real reward for the Aspire2 team, and indeed all at DPS, is to watch the students grow and develop into young adults.

“It was also delightful to see that the programme empowered many of the students to such an extent, that they were keen to form an Aspire 2 alumni, with the sole intention of giving back to their peers, school, community, and indeed the programme.”

At a student programme in St. Patrick’s College, Gardiner’s Hill, Cork were Janice McGarry, Aspire2 project manager, DPS Global, (third from left at back) and Nicola Quinn, Aspire2 student support worker, DPS Global, (second from right) with Brian Cronin, principal, and students Abigail O’Farrell (front) and (back from second left) Emily Bozynski, Emily Cleary, Patricia Pavlovic, Kayleigh O’Brien and Molly Prendergast. Picture: Denis Minihane.

DPS director Tony Mahon said the support of SIFI was invaluable.

“We were more than pleased when SIFI expressed an interest to work with us on our unique education project. Education is the most important tool for ensuring that our young people have the brightest future possible.

“We believe that through working together with key stakeholders from the education sector, we are educating the young minds who will be part of creating a brightfuture for themselves, along with Ireland Inc,” Mr Mahon said.

Fellow DPS director Michael Mulhall told a recent business breakfast of Cork Chamber that due to SIFI getting onboard, DPS was able to expand its base, the number of schools, and variety and focus of initiatives.

It has been a very successful partnership. Interestingly, it offers many advantages to our own people through mentoring, and is of tremendous satisfaction for them.

"We have helped 600 students and progression rates have gone from 40% to 60% in our selected schools. But six schools is a drop in the ocean and there is a lot of work to be done,” he said.

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