Thursday, 21 April 2016: Youth inspiration and disability campaigner Joanne O’Riordan joins broadcasters Eoghan McDermott and Pete Snodden as the 2016 Coca-Cola Thank You Fund ambassadors, calling on youth groups to get creative with project ideas that foster self-esteem, confidence, wellbeing and leadership in young people across the country.

In celebration of 130 years of Coca-Cola, the €130,000 Thank You Fund this year, seeks to fund projects that that inspire and support young people in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It was launched today in partnership with the Irish Youth Foundation and YouthAction Northern Ireland, who joined the ambassadors to encourage non-profit and community groups to apply to the Fund.

Recently awarded the title of ‘Outstanding Young Person of the Year 2015’ by Junior Chamber International, Joanne O’Riordan epitomises the ability and potential of young people in Ireland, having campaigned for disability rights, addressed the United Nations and sparked meaningful discussions around technology with leaders at MIT in Boston.

She was delighted to get behind the initiative saying: “It’s time to dream big! I am calling on all youth groups across the island of Ireland to put their heads together to develop a project that will make a real difference in young peoples’ lives.

“Our generation has a voice, and a role to play in our society and this funding offers a real opportunity for young people to avail of local investment in services and put our stamp on our communities. With a bit of imagination, this funding will help make a real difference to young people in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and I look forward to hearing about the creative ways this vision will be brought to life.”

Broadcaster Eoghan McDermott, a long-time supporter of youth development also said, “This funding offers a very real opportunity for young people to steer their future and become leaders within their communities. We want to hear from groups who have the passion and commitment to develop new and impactful projects that help young people to be a force for change in their local communities.”

Niall McLoughlin, CEO at the Irish Youth Foundation, said the funding would play an important role in extending the reach of youth organisations, as a little more than a third of young people are currently involved in a club or society. 

“The National Youth Strategy highlights that the most critical transition points for our young people are between the ages of 16- 24 years as they move from childhood into adulthood. We know that our young people continue to rise above these challenges but some still experience adversity due to a range of socio-economic factors.

“Becoming actively involved in your community is proven to make a big difference when it comes to developing life skills. According to Strategy, just 39% of young people are involved in a club or society, so there is lots of scope to increase participation levels and to make sure all young people are given the opportunity to actively contribute to society and shape their own futures.

“We are delighted to partner with the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund and look forward to seeing the positive impact the grants will have on communities across the country.”

Matthieu Seguin, ‎General Manager Coca-Cola HBC Ireland & Northern Ireland, said; “Young people are the change-makers in our society. They have a vital role to play as leaders of our economic, social and community development, and we want to empower them to do so.

“We are delighted to be making €130,000 available, to support the rollout of new and inspiring community-based projects that respond to a real need among young people. Thirteen projects will be selected and will receive funding in the amounts of €30,000, €10,000 or €5,000.

“I would like to thank our inspirational ambassadors, and also our youth partners who will help us to make a real and lasting impact in communities across the country with this funding.”

Applications for funding can now be made via Coca-Cola.ie/thankyou.

*             *             *

The 2016 Coca-Cola Thank You Fund

The €130,000 Coca-Cola Thank You Fund is seeking applications which fall under one or more of the following three categories:

  • Self Esteem & Confidence Building: Projects that help equip young people with skills for living, life and work
  • Wellbeing: Initiatives focused on providing youth with an outlet to support their mental health and wellbeing - from creative pursuits, to mentorship, to community involvement 
  • Leadership: Programmes for young people to develop their leadership skills – positioning them as future community, business or cultural leaders   

Applications will be received online via www.coca-cola.ie/thankyou before June 7th.

After the applications forms have been received, a shortlist of 20 organisations will be selected to go forward to the next phase, which will involve presenting their ideas in further detail to the panel of judges.

The Coca-Cola Thank You Fund has been in existence since 2011 and in that time it has supported a number of different community supported projects including community, social and education programmes aimed at youth, healthy and active lifestyles, and environmental leadership. To date €625,000 has been given to non-profit organisations in Ireland and Northern Ireland. 43 organisations have been supported and over 30,000 people positively impacted as a result.

More information about the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund is available at www.coca-cola.ie/thankyou.

Ends/

Notes to the Editor

Accompanying photography will be issued today by Naoise Culhane Photography and is also available from cillian@q4pr.ie.

For more information, please contact:

Cillian Murphy, Q4PR, 01-4751444 and 086-4107750

Or/

Nicola Scott, Q4PR, 01-4751444 and 086-8817855