An Update on Ashoka Ireland

As of October 2019, Ashoka will no longer have a free-standing office on the ground in Dublin.

At its core Ashoka seeks a new way of leadership, and we are continually evolving our work to achieve higher levels of change-making impact. In Europe, as a continually evolving organisation, we are creating a pan-European strategy that moves away from the country-by-country approach to create teams which cross borders.

What does this mean for Ashoka Ireland?

Ashoka Ireland is a key part of this transition. Last year we merged as a legal entity with the Ashoka UK organisation, creating a shared a budget, pooling back-end resources such as finance, and integrating staff responsibilities in programmes such as Venture, the search and selection of new Ashoka Fellows.. This process was the first step of a larger pan-European integration. Though our programmes will persist on a European level, there will not be a free-standing Irish office.

Rather than growing a larger team in Dublin, which has traditionally been difficult to sustain, we are creating structures to fully integrate our 16 Fellows into a pan-European Fellowship as well as an Ireland-UK Fellowship, and elect new ones in the future.. This process is ongoing around Europe, with several other countries exploring smaller in-country footprints and broader EU integration.

As you can imagine this was a difficult process, and one which has been met with bittersweet feelings from an Irish community which cares very much about Ashoka. It has been quite touching to see how much Ashoka means to people -- it has reinforced our belief that our work is truly vital, and that it is powerful in changing lives.

Ashoka has had a powerful track record in Ireland:

  • Since 2007, we have elected 16 Ashoka Fellows, over half of whom have seen their work spread internationally, and a third of whom now operate in more than 25 countries.

  • We found the first Ashoka Fellows in Northern Ireland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, and launched the original Scandinavia programs.

  • We have seen Ashoka Fellow organizations such as GIY, MyMind, #Valuable500, ALISON, Third Age, Coderdojo, Burren Life, ICRR, The Green Plan, Valid Nutrition, Kinship Care NI, Genio, and Youthbank International, among others, rise into leading lights in social entrepreneurship.

  • Through Change Nation, we have helped import 10 international Ashoka Fellow organizations into Ireland and establish them in country – from Roots of Empathy, Playworks, and Siel Bleu to Specialisterne and Slow Food, among many others.

  • We elected Dublin City University as the first Changemaker Campus in Europe.

  • Our network of 15 Changemaker Schools are changing the face of primary education and are a truly thriving network, with an upcoming 18 month piece of academic research on the effectiveness of the schools in improving children's lives (spoiler: they are very effective!).

  • Ashoka Ireland has had a tremendous impact in showcasing social entrepreneurs, and help building the ecosystem which thrives so strongly today through such activities as national billboard campaigns and partnerships with Irish Times and RTE, a national study on what percentage of the Irish population identifies as changemakers, and a changemaker mapping of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

How will Ashoka Ireland look?

The vibrant community that exists in Ireland since 2007 will continue to exist and grow. In the years to come Ashoka will, through UK and EU administration:

· Build fully integrated UK-Irish events and EU events

· Select new Ashoka Fellows from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

· Support Irish Ashoka Fellows in growing their organisations and leadership through a global perspective

Ashoka Ireland’s Changemaker Schools programme is a global success story – we have the highest concentration of Changemaker Schools of any European country. To nurture this energy, we are spinning off Changemaker Schools as an independent entity with key supporters and Ashoka as an integral partner. This will allow us to grow our network of schools and continue our successful track record.

Who do I talk to?

If any of you have any questions on Ireland, our Fellows, or ASN, please reach out to infoire@ashoka.org and we can direct you to the right person.:

Ashoka is constantly evolving towards greater impact. As we seek out new approaches towards building an EACH world, we must live out our mission in the structures of our organisation. As we work with our Fellows to grow their impact beyond borders, it's important we hold ourselves to the same ambition, even if it means bittersweet decisions like this one. Ireland has a community of tremendous value, and has a tremendous amount to contribute as part of a pan-European Ashoka community, and we are ensuring that community is nurtured. Thank you so much for all your support over the past 12 years, and into the future..