€218,000 Reach funding allocated to Donegal ETB to support participation in community education programmes

Donegal ETB Logo

Donegal ETB LogoDonegal Education and Training Board has been allocated €218,000 by SOLAS, the state agency responsible for Further Education and Training (FET), to support marginalised learners to access community education programmes in local communities, through €5 million in national Reach funding.

The €218,000 funding allocation will support almost 5,500 learners across the Donegal area to access and participate in local community education provision including environmental, digital and inclusion programmes.

The funding allocated to disadvantaged learners across the Donegal region will be used by local projects on the ground, including for example, the Pen2Paper Creative Writers Group in Donegal Town for a creative writing and digital skills project, Donegal Intercultural Platform in Letterkenny for their ‘Interpreter Training and Intercultural Community Crafts’ project, Manor Men’s Shed for a woodwork and woodturning project, Cill Ulta in An Fál Carrach for their project ‘Biodiversity Awareness and “Ceird don Dúlra”’ and the Moville Family Resource Centre for an improving digital infrastructure project.

Speaking on the allocation of Reach funding across Ireland Minister Patrick O’Donovan TD said: “The impact of Reach funding over the past four years is evident. Originally introduced in 2020 to support the most disadvantaged learners throughout the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it now provides important funds to assist Donegal ETB, and community education providers, to increase their capacity and ensure that they can support the participation of disadvantaged learners within their communities.”

Ciaran O’Brien, Director of Further Education and Training at Donegal ETB said: “We are delighted to receive €218,000 in funding to support community education providers in Donegal. This vital funding provides significant supports to facilitate learning in local communities. Funding will be used to promote creative learning and environmental and sustainability themes and to develop inclusion opportunities through horticulture and traditional arts and crafts. The Reach Fund also facilitates projects that seek to improve digital infrastructures for learning.”

Since 2020, thousands of initiatives have received Reach funding which has helped to empower learners, building digital infrastructures to foster inclusion and support learning the Donegal region and across Ireland. It has helped to develop safe learning spaces, address the digital divide, build stronger learning communities, and increase the capacity of community education organisations across local communities.

Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, said: “Community education plays a critical and unique role in the FET system, and in local communities in Donegal, and across Ireland. It offers local, accessible, and welcoming learning opportunities for individuals which can support them to achieve their personal, social, and educational goals. We are delighted to continue to offer Reach funding in 2024 and we have seen first-hand the difference that it is making through Donegal ETB and across the country to support those who need it the most.

Since 2020, over 2,300 individual projects have been supported through Reach Funding and demand is growing year on year. This is testament to the incredible work that is happening at local level by ETBs and community partners as they work to tackle barriers that prevent learners from accessing education and support them to re-engage and participate with local provision.”