Ashoka Ireland Quarterly - Spring 2016

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ANNUAL ASHOKA FELLOW & ASN RETREAT

We held our annual summer retreat for Fellows & ASN Members in beautiful Burrishoole, County Mayo, on the weekend of April 23rd. Three days were filled with group discussions, well-being activities such as cycling, swimming & walking, one-on-one mentoring sessions, as well as music & poetry in the evenings.

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The group of over 25 attendees included Fellows, ASN Members, key advisors and the Ashoka Ireland team. We are very grateful to ASN Member Denis Tinsley for hosting the retreat in his beautiful home again this year.

View more highlights from the retreat below, and on the MEDIA HUB page on our website.

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ASHOKA IRELAND LAUNCHES SOCIAL FINANCE PROGRAMME

We are thrilled to share news that Ashoka Ireland has launched a new programme to help Ashoka Fellows finance their work, and build financially sustainable social organisations. Pioneered by Ashoka Europe Director Mark Cheng in the UK, the Social Finance Programme will allow Ashoka Ireland Fellows to explore new options for financing. The members of the Social Finance Committee in Ireland include:

• MAURA MOORE - HEAD OF PROFESSIONAL SERVICES & NONPROFITS, AIB

• PAUL SULLIVAN - FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL TREASURY MANAGEMENT AGENCY

• SIR STEVEN WILKINSON - FOUNDER & CEO, BUCHANAN AG

• BRIAN CAULFIELD - PARTNER, DRAPER ESPRIT

• FAYE DOUILLARD - FOUNDER, THE GIVING CIRCLE AMSTERDAM

• EAMONN CONLON - PARTNER, A&L GOODBODY

“Social finance is a different approach to funding and lending to social enterprises,” Ashoka Ireland Director Serena Mizzoni told The Irish Times this week. “It means making investments in organisations which provide a social dividend as well as a financial return. It is neither a for-profit venture or a charity – it sits in between the two. Ashoka has been pioneering this internationally for the past five years, and we are now bringing it to Ireland.”

Read the full article on social finance in The Irish Times Business Section: ‘Ashoka Ireland: Funding social change requires a new business model’

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ACTIVATING COLLECTIVE ACTION FOR THE REFUGEE CRISIS IN EUROPE

From the 18th to the 20th of March, Ashoka Germany hosted the HELLO FESTIVAL conference on refugee integration. Central to the programme were thirteen Ashoka Fellows, who presented proven solutions to working with refugees, and led workshops and deep-dive discussions on how best to replicate their models in a German context.

Among the thirteen innovators was Ashoka Ireland Fellow Mary Nally, founder of Third Age Ireland and , a community project involving predominantly older volunteers welcoming migrants through conversational English classes. Several Ashoka offices have been working with Mary to replicate the Fàilte Isteach model beyond Ireland, in countries that are severely affected by Europe’s refugee crisis.

The festival was the culmination of months of collaboration between Ashoka Germany and other Ashoka offices in Europe, as well as key local partners from the social, private and public sectors in Germany. The guest list of over 400 included key influencers from the social, business, government and media sectors.

Read our blogpost about the Hello Festival: ‘Meet the organisations committed to empowering refugees in Germany.’

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FEATURED FELLOW: MIKE FEERICK & ALISON

Mike Feerick is the founder of ALISON, one of the world’s first free online learning platforms based in Galway, on the West Coast of Ireland. An Ashoka Fellow since 2010, Mike has grown ALISON to include over 7 million registered learners and 800,000 graduates worldwide. The ALISON team is facing a busy summer with the implementation of revised branding, and the launch of its new learning management system and publishing platforms.

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Earlier this year, ALISON achieved a milestone with respect to the use of free education within justice systems worldwide, when a New York State judge sentenced a young drug offender to complete an ALISON course in lieu of prison time. Since March, the programme has spread to other New York judicial districts and is set to launch shortly in the state of Minnesota. In adopting the programme, Judge William J Watson, of the 8th Judicial district of New York stated that: “If we are to seriously consider how we can help young men and women not to reoffend, we must look to remedies that change minds, not just physical circumstances. Free online learning offers an instrument unavailable to courts to date and it must be explored.”

“We must look to remedies that change minds, not just physical circumstances.” (NEW YORK DISTRICT JUDGE)

Mike’s view is that free learning can offer alternative sentencing in every court and for every crime worldwide. At the end of the day, he says, many judges would like to impose an education sentence on defendants, but few courts have had the resources to pay for education, and likewise, defendants. If the education is free to access online - as with ALISON’s platform - then education and skills development become a real alternative options.

In the coming months, Mike will visit India, China, USA, Canada and UK. “Having such a global opportunity is exciting, but it does mean that ever so often, you need to visit the front line.” In India this May, ALISON will announce its one millionth learner. As Mike says, “Small as the world is becoming, regardless where in the world, nothing is more effective in getting things going than turning up.”

ALISON now has 30 staff at its Galway HQ. “Growing from Galway has its challenges,” says Mike. “But the rewards of coming to work with us are many. Besides the social impact we are having, we have a very multinational and talented team here – and not having to pay Dublin rent rates is a further bonus for those who want to come West.”

Find out more and sign up for a course on ALISON’s website: www.alison.com

 

NEW PARTNERSHIPS: SILICON REPUBLIC’S INSPIREFEST & DUBLIN TECH SUMMIT

We are delighted to partner with leading Irish tech conference INSPIREFEST, taking place in Dublin’s Silicon Docks June 30th-July 2nd. International Ashoka Fellows Alexandra Bernadotte (Founder, Beyond12) and Jamila Abass (Founder, M-Farm) have joined the line up of incredible speakers focused on promoting diversity and inclusion in the tech sector.

Find out more on the Inspirefest website & look out for our upcoming Silicon Republic article series on ‘Tech for Good’!

We are also delighted to join Dublin Tech Summit as a strategic partner on social entrepreneurship. The summit will take place on February 16th and 17th 2017, and will feature leaders, founders and innovators shaping technology across the globe.

Find out more on the Dublin Tech Summit website and on Twitter.

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MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS (SINCE WINTER'16)

Want true equality? Make everyone powerful.- Part of a “Thriving in a World of Change” series produced by The Huffington Post and Ashoka, written by Bill Drayton.

Meet the organisations committed to empowering refugees in Germany - Highlights from the #HelloFestival a conversation stressing the importance of creating a culture of acceptance in host European countries.

Empowering teachers to empower young people - A piece about pioneering teachers and educators coming together as change leaders.

Reframing the refugee crisis to unlock solutions - How media outlets play a key role in shaping the narrative around Europe’s refugee crisis.

Empowering not imposing - Why women need to lead an organisational revolution.- New business models are tools that can be seized by women to redefine what leadership, and even business itself, means.

Celebrating Womens‘ Day: Inspiration from leading social innovators - Women’s day blog highlighting Fellows Mary Nally, Caroline Casey, and Mairead Healy.

Green Couch Series: Our interview with Senior Fellow Jerry White - An interview with Senior Ashoka Fellow Jerry White about Irish resilience and his future plans for peace.

Ashoka Ireland: Funding social change requires a new business model - Our latest Innovation Profile in The Irish Times

 

COMMUNICATING WITH YOU

This is the spring 2016 issue of the Ashoka Ireland quarterly newsletter. Feel free to share the link widely! Email Fiona at fkoch@ashoka.org with photos, videos and announcements to be featured in the next quarterly, planned for July. Find out more about our work on our website, and find us on Facebook & Twitter!

Introducing our new Ashoka Ireland Instagram! Follow us for exciting updates on what the team is up to.