Innovation Fund Scheme
What is the Innovation Fund?
Innovation has always been a key part of a youth work response. Youth workers are consistently responding to the social, economic, political and cultural contexts that they meet in their practice. This fund recognises the ingenuity that is present in youth work and seeks to create an opportunity to build on this innovation. This fund has a particular focus on harnessing this innovation with the intention of supporting the introduction and/or embedding of a global youth work approach in your practice. The fund is not restricted to any criteria, beyond the fact that it should identify a core justice issue within a local-global context.
About the Grant
This grant up to a maximum of €5000 is for projects, services and organisations who 1. Are beginning to explore introducing a global youth work approach but are not yet sufficiently experienced/confident to develop or manage a larger scale project, or 2. Have an established practice but want support to deepen this practice. Potential activities could include (this is just a taster, refer to the guidelines for more):
- Implement a training and skill development programme to support youth workers to embed a global youth work practice. Ensure that this is demonstrably responsive to your organisational profile.
- Resourcing your organisation to explore a local-global understanding on some of the core SDG themes:
- poverty, gender equality, education, hunger, peace and security, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, climate action, sustainable cities.
- Linking your current delivery e.g., UBU to a global youth work practice.
- Develop an activity in your organisation with young people as part of One World Week (November). This activity must engage with a key social justice or inequality issue and must address both local and global contexts.
- Carry out an SDG audit of your current delivery to identify areas where your practice is already aligned with relevant SDGs, including if you work in a UBU context. Conduct a similar audit of the Code of Good Practice, IDEA and demonstrate current alignment, as well as a plan for building alignment with the SDGs and the Code of Good Practice.
- Participate in Youth 2030 training (no fee). *
- Participate in the Global Youth Work Learner’s Network (approx. every six weeks): *
*-This is a requirement of the funding.
Innovation Fund Case Studies
“Our Crosscare team provide a broad-based community service to all young people in the North Clondalkin area. We offer support to young people, including advice and assistance with issues, and we work with youth groups so that they can support young people in a wide range of activities and opportunities. These youth groups include mainstream youth groups of special interest such as outdoor pursuits, the arts, sports, drama, etc, providing direct services for marginalised young people including drug users, young homeless, Travellers, teenage parents, early school leavers, and young offenders. They also promote the creation of voluntary youth groups, and the development and management of resources for young people in the area.
In order to support staff to step out of the immediacy of their work, and to deepen connections with core issues of inequality present in their everyday activities at a local-global level, we applied for the Youth2030 Innovation Fund. We wanted to explore justice as a broad concept, outside of the criminal justice context framing the Youth Diversion programme that we deliver deliver.
Across eight weeks, both youth workers and young people engaged in a global youth work (GYW) learning journey, exploring the concept of social justice through interactive workshops and spoken word. Social justice was discussed as a political and philosophical concept, where all people should have equal access to wealth, health, justice, well-being and opportunity. A 4-stage process was used, with local-global training delivered by the Youth2030 team, using drama and debate with youth workers and separately, with young people to explore justice with Kelvin Akpaloo. Overall we had 20 young people and youth workers in our project, increasing their knowledge and skills in GYW. Additionally, Sinéad Harris (Manager at Crosscare Ronanstown) participated in the Leave No One Behind panel for OWW, and a group of our young people presented a spoken word piece on social justice at the OWW Global Youth Summit in November.
Sinéad then represented the youth sector at the SDG National Stakeholder Forum in January, speaking particularly about leaving no one behind regarding youth mental health. We believe that these activities showcased our work and growth, especially of our young people.
In evaluating the project, we agreed that using a GYW approach helped us to understand globalisations, the Sustainable Development Goals, and how to approach topics with a critical lens such as the World Cup, fast fashion, climate change and youth work in the space of policy making. Sinéad reflected on the challenge and opportunity with the project saying that it “is based in an area of social disadvantage and sometimes it’s hard to get beyond the everyday issues, but this project has given both staff and the young people a new outlook on youth work which is invaluable in today’s society”. Another staff member commented that “the big learning [was] that all the issues discussed effect young people globally and how important it is that young people can identify this, and that they know that there is more to the world than their current environment, that the world is there to be explored and how important it is to have allies in this world.”
Following the project, we have an increased confidence in discussing social justice and how to use the PLiNGs (personal, local, national and global) perspectives. We saw this as an opportunity for our staff and young people to step outside of their comfort zones, to network and build new relationships, and to increase their capacity in having a dedicated space to talk about critical issues. We are currently planning methods for increasing our GYW focus in 2023 across all programme offerings, and are interested in sharing this approach amongst all 11 Crosscare youth services this year – Crosscare Youth”
Dublin Youth Theatre: All the World’s a Stage
“At Dublin Youth Theatre (DYT), we believe in the power of theatre to help young people develop important life skills and grow into confident, empathetic, and responsible global citizens. Established in 1977, we work with young people from Dublin City and surrounding areas, providing a space where they can socialize, collaborate, and innovate. Our members have a say in how the organization is run, with opportunities to sit on the board and committees and gain valuable life experience.
We’re always looking for new and exciting ways to help our young people grow and learn, which is why we were thrilled to introduce the Global Youth Work (GYW) program into our practice through the Youth2030 Innovation Fund. Our Managing Director, Sarah Bragg Bolger, completed the NUI Certificate in Global Youth Work and Development Education in 2022 and was inspired to bring a more global focus to our work.
With the help of the Youth2030 team, we were able to incorporate a global focus across our youth work, initially delivering three workshops to 15 of our members aged 15 to 22 years old. During these workshops, we introduced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and used the PLiNGs approach to help young people see themselves in the context of globalisation. We also explored complex global topics through drama, making the learning experience more engaging and memorable.
A critical aspect of a GYW approach is to encourage young people to become change-makers, and our workshops aimed to do just that. After the program, our members began considering concrete actions they could take to fight oppression, and they even did independent research to explore two chosen SDGs further. They focused on SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 16 Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions, these young creatives represent what it means to be global citizens.
Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, we still managed to gather feedback and saw positive shifts in participants’ values and perceptions of global topics. Introducing GYW into our work didn’t drastically change what we’ve always done, but instead, it added a structured context and a clear call to action. Our goal is to serve our young people and community in the best way possible, and this program helps us do just that by working towards SDGs 3, Good Health and Well-Being and 10, Reduced Inequalities.
We’re so proud of our young members and can’t wait to see where this journey takes them. We’re also exploring options with a playwright and the European Youth Engagement Festival to expand our workshops to cover all 17 SDGs and further develop critical thinking and advocacy skills through intercultural cooperation. At Dublin Youth Theatre, the world truly is a stage, and we’re excited to see what our young members will achieve.”
Involve Youth Meath: Exploring the Effect of Educational Inequality on the Traveller Community
“As a Traveller specific organisation, Involve Youth Meath, is very committed to creating opportunities for our young people to fully participate and to take their place at the table. We run 2 youth projects in the Meath area, one in Trim and one in Navan, and activities range from homework clubs to arts and crafts, to a diversity programme, STEAM and much more. Our No Shame-Traveller Youth Mental Health Campaign and the award winning, No Shame Game are examples of the ways in which we advocate for and collaborate with our young people. With seven staff members, Involve Meath is part of Involve – the National Association of Traveller Centres, representing youth work projects and centres of education and training nationally – Involve Youth Project Meath | Trim | Facebook
Our youth work team are at the heart of our work, and they identified an issue with educational inequality, faced by our young people, and impacting across the community. One of our senior youth workers, Brian Doyle, completed the NUI Certificate in Global Youth Work and Development Education in 2022 and it helped him to see educational inequality as a systemic problem. Along with youth workers, Patrick Mc Donagh and Thomas Joyce, Brian designed a project that used a PLiNGs pathway (personal, local, national, global) approach to situate the findings in terms of inclusion in Irish society, and to explore global connections with educational inequality.
In terms of capacity building and awareness raising about systemic educational inequality, we included young Travellers, the wider community, and other young people from ethnic minority backgrounds who also attend IYM in the project. A GYW approach was incorporated into the design and facilitation of workshops, this helped us to focus on critical thinking skills to raise awareness to the issues. Our youth workers increased their own capacity during the project, specifically concerning research design skills, project management, research skills, and reflective practices. A key learning of the research was the depth of work required to turn the awareness of young people into action, and that knowledge sharing and support within the household is important to good research outcomes.
We have explored looking at local to global connections during this research project and have expanded our knowledge in this area; however, we feel there is still much to learn. Since we have already an international presence through Erasmus Youth Exchanges, we would like to work internationally in the future with other youth groups through Erasmus and connect with other Indigenous/Roma/ethnic minority groups. We think this would offer us the opportunity to meet people with the same concerns around educational inequalities as Travellers and other young people who are ethnic minorities, to deepen our understanding on the scale of this issue globally. In this way we would be able to make connections between Travellers and other minority ethnic disadvantaged groups across Europe and to create awareness”.
Youth Work Ireland Galway: Diverse Youth Voices for Climate Justice
“Youth workers at Youthwork Ireland Galway (YWIG) have been delivering a climate justice project for the last three years, in partnership with a youth centered project in Tanzania. This meaningfully engages young people in the governance process, particularly in relation to climate adaptation and mitigation policies. This project is called, SAUTI (Sustainable Accountability Uniting Tanzanian and Irish Youth) and is an initiative funded by the European Commission (2019-2023), in collaboration with World Vision Ireland, YWIG and World Vision Tanzania. Recently, Chris Nolan represented YWIG and SAUTI at the Youth2030 Leave No One Behind Panel for OWW.
At YWIG, we were looking to extend the reach of the programme to include three key areas: 1. supporting the participation of young Travellers in climate justice work; 2. supporting our youth work staff to engage in a deeper way with climate justice issues, and a global youth work approach, and 3. to support the delivery of the Youth Climate Assembly in Galway City.
Working with the Youth 2030 team, through the Innovation Fund, we saw developments in all these areas. Our youth workers supported our young Traveller boys’ group to create greater awareness of Traveller culture. They engaged with older members of their community through a video project on identity and participated in a session on nomadic peoples’ global responses to climate change. We were proud to see their skill development including project and organisational skills through creation of a video from concept to gathering footage, to final production.
A key part of using a global youth work approach is using critical thinking skills, and following training, our youth workers reported a deepened knowledge on climate change and climate justice, especially following briefings on climate myth-busting. They also showed greater confidence in connecting their understanding of groups they work with and their needs in exploring global justice issues, with the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change in a light-hearted, fun and engaging manner.
The delivery of the Youth Climate Assembly was a great success, it saw the development of youth networks around climate and global justice. Young people also learned the potential of a youth-oriented consultative process. Participant feedback highlighted how much they appreciated the opportunity to have their voices heard and to listen to the voices of others. Many spoke positively of the Q&A space between participants and panelists, which led to constructive dialogue.
The project has supported our work in taking the conversation on climate change to a wider range of young people across Galway. This grant has been integral to exploring how best to have those conversations on the terms of the young people of Galway, whether that is young Travellers and their cultural insights on climate justice or more generally how young people might be meaningfully included in political decision making”.
We are 100% open to ideas that you may want to pitch to us. Please let us know and we are happy to discuss this with you! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, we have a limited number of these funds to allocate each year and will award to those projects who demonstrate their capacity to deliver this fund, at application and interview.