October 31, 2018
Outline the vision and mission of the Social Enterprise
Vision:’ A society free from all forms of poverty and inequality, rich in resources where people of all ages have access to the education they need to enhance their wellbeing and to achieve their full potential.’
Mission: ‘to use the power of transformative education through learning, leadership and enterprise to end the injustice of poverty wherever we find it’.
An Cosán founded by Drs Ann Louise Gilligan and Katherine Zappone in 1986 was established as a community based project in Tallaght West to support the local community, through learning, leadership and enterprise, in the knowledge that education is the key to transformation and the eradication of poverty.
The core of An Cosán’s radical, social action model of education, has a distinctive ethos and vision. Through the use of a continuum of methodologies, from face to face to blended and online education An Cosán can reach those disadvantaged by financial cost, childcare, geography, public transport availability and lack of institutional access.
Educational inequality is one of the most serious social issues facing Ireland. Each year, some 4,500 young people stop attending school before they complete their junior cert. Some 99% of Dublin 6 students will progress to higher education compared to only 15% in Dublin 15 (HEA, 2014).
At An Cosán we know what works and are driven by the knowledge of what we call the #one generation solution – educate a young lone parent to degree level, she will earn 40% more than someone without a degree and she and her children will exit poverty forever.
An Cosán believes in breaking the generational cycle of employment through engagement with disadvantaged communities across Ireland through a social action model of education with a distinctive ethos and vision.
How has the Social Enterprise developed and tackled issues?
An Cosán is recognised as the biggest and one of the leading organisations in community education, a distinct segment of the education sector. It has gained both significant corporate and state recognition and financial support. It has grown from a local organisation to a national organisation as it has scaled its services to other disadvantaged communities across Ireland.
It has developed an innovative a unique collaborative partnership with Carlow Institute of Technology with recognition of the skills and competencies of An Cosán to write and present for accreditation Special Purpose Awards and degrees.
Our strategic Plan 2018 – 2021 launched early this year clearly outlines our innovative and ambitious goals for the future.
Goal 1: Be a world class technologically enhanced community education initiative, with local, regional and national reach Goal 2: Develop a range of initiatives promoting and delivering high quality early years education that nurtures children’s learning and development in partnerships with families
Goal 3: Initiate and support the development of social enterprises across Ireland
Goal 4: Invest in strengthening our organisational capability, culture and wellbeing to allow us to operate as a cohesive and valuable national organisation Goal 5: Source new and sustainable funding which allows us to continue to achieve our mission
An Cosán aims to contribute to the transformation of the individual, the community and the wider human community. In our organisation, education and enterprise are the particular tools with which we seek to effect personal and social change We believe in offering the best to individuals and communities who feel isolated, marginalised, disempowered and discriminated against in terms of race or class or gender. In our struggle to work for a more just society, we commit ourselves to principles of equal opportunities, empowerment and capacity-building.
What has the overall impact of the work been?
An Cosán offers a range of programmes spanning from foundation education up to degree level. A key aspect of our educational ethos is the recognition that students who struggle with the injustice of poverty experience of variety of complex educational and social challenges and therefore we offer require a series of learner centred supports which facilitate each person to achieve their learning goals.
Locally Impact since 1986, 32 years ago, over 17,000 adults have availed of our services.
VCC which scales the work of An Cosán, Tallaght West since 2015, now has a presence in 22 counties in Ireland.
Regional and National Impact: By the end of 2018 over 1,000 students will have accessed 51 courses in collaboration with 80 community partners.
Róisín Kelly from Wexford is one of more than 1,000 students over the past four years of An Cosán Virtual Community College, whose flexible learning methods mean she can take most of her classes without even having to leave home.
Rainbow House offers early years and education and care and after an school care programme for 4 – 12 year olds to families in Tallaght West. In 2007 An Cosán Fledglings Early Years Education and Care was created scaling the work of Rainbow House in centres around Dublin.
Local and Regional Impact: Over 450 children and families avail of our early years education and care annually.
Social Impact: One student achieving an award impacts on 5 associates, that is a 1:5 ratio of impact on family, peers and community. Each student becomes an ambassador for the power of education.
Deirdre quickly noticed a change in her own demeanour as she progressed through the modules. She felt more energetic and optimistic and also noticed a change in
What makes this Social Enterprise unique?
Our innovative blended online initiative – An Cosán Virtual Community College. We are the only community education provider offering a continuum of learning methodologies to suit all learners no matter where they live and available at any time that suits their life and family circumstances. An Cosán social enterprise is learner centred and was developed in response to the needs of the communities we serve and it is aligned to and responsive to government policy.
The ethos of An Cosán is at the heart of all we do and aspire to do. It is the ideals, beliefs, values and principles that underpin all our work, our culture and our philosophy. It is not only what we do but how we do things that makes the difference and supports individuals and communities to change and develop Relationships are at the heart of our ethos. A key element of our work is our attention to many diverse relationships and to seek to alert people to the importance of the web of interconnectedness in which we live and move . At its heart is a person-centred approach which deeply values each individual, rich in both diversity and commonality, ethnic and social background.
With relationships comes struggle and difference.
We are challenged to work in a spirit of mutual respect and dialogue and we recognise that out of struggles comes creativity and richness of life.
Please describe how your Social Enterprise engages in trading activity in a way to achieve your social mission
An Cosán generates more than 50% of income through;
• Programmes Fees. A Bursary Fund is available for those on social welfare or low paying jobs.
• External delivery of our ICT Programmes to community organisation.
• Provision of Educational and Technological Expertise: An Cosán is recognised as an expert in the field of blended learning and as such provides guidance and knowledge to others.
• Continuous Professional Development: Programmes are designed and delivered to those seeking upskilling in TEL, ICT, Community Development/Leadership, Social Enterprise Development
• Relief Cover Panel Initiative: 2017 saw then launch of this ‘Early Years’ social enterprise providing relief cover when early years educators are out on leave or to correct staff ratios thus preventing essential services or to correct staff ratios thus preventing essential services from having to close on a particular day.
How can the public support the Social Enterprise?
• By Becoming a volunteer.
• By Fundraising
• By Donations
• And most importantly by advocating for our policy initiatives.
• We thank most sincerely those who have helped throughout 2018.
How is the Social Enterprise transparent and accountable?
• Our accounts are externally audited and published annually on our website
• We are a registered charity both with the Charities Section of the Revenue Commissioners (CHY8659) and the Charities Regulatory Authority (No. 20021528)
• We prepare our financial statements in accordance with FRS102 and the Charities SORP
• We are fully compliant with The Governance code for Community and Voluntary Organisations in Ireland
• We are also compliant with the ‘Guidelines for Charitable Organisations on Fundraising from the Public’
• We are governed by a Board of Directors, who are all volunteers and donate freely of their time, skills and experience. Two financial experts sit on our Finance Committee.
• Our Strategic Plan 2018 – 2021 lists our five key goals for coming years. This 2018-2021 strategic plan is ambitious in its scope. It focuses on goal building that reflects all that is best in 21st century teaching and learning: it is learner centred, reflective, inclusive, collaborative and networked.