#SupportLocal: Unique programmes for youths at Citywise Education

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By Maurice Garvey

ONE OF the unique aspects of Citywise Education, is that they support the development of kids from the age of 8, all the way into third level education and beyond.

Such is the impact the centre has had since it’s establishment in 1991, that many young people mentored there, remain on in some capacity as volunteers, to help the next generation.

Citywise Salesforce Mentoring 1

Citywise Education mentoring programme

Jonathon Doyle – Citywise CEO believes the approach is unique.

“There is no other place where young people come at the age of 8 years old to enjoy themselves and are supported right throughout their education and own personal development,” he said.

The idea behind the not-for-profit organisation is to strengthen communities by working with young people, helping them to develop personally through both formal and informal education.

Each year, Citywise support over 1,000 youths through after-school clubs and activities and direct work with 15 local schools.

Their programmes are run with a small team of 12 staff members and 100 volunteers.

Citywise building 1

Citywise building

According to Mr Doyle, the success of Citywise has been driven by many different things.

“Buy-in from the local community has been a huge factor. Young people enjoy coming to Citywise because of the quality of our programmes and many of our members stay involved from the time they are 8 until they are adults. This means that many of our volunteers and staff are previous members of our programmes.”

At Citywise there are three strands of programmes, including Clubs and Leadership, which engages young people from the age of 8 to develop interest and skills in extracurricular activities.

In STEMSquare, Citywise developed a state-of-the-art centre to deliver programmes such as computer coding, robotics and 3D printing.

The Fast Track Academy in Citywise supports young people through extra classes, mentorship, guest speakers and supervised study.

“It helps young people to make a plan for after school,” said Doyle.

“Each year over 75 per cent of those involved go on to third level education, many of which are the first in their families to do so. Now, Fast Track Academy is also helping students with the transition to third level education with additional supports.”

Doyle links the strong foundations in place down to the work of those involved in the early days “such as Mark Hamilton and John Keogh, both being synonymous with Citywise.”

“This has helped create the local buy-in needed to deliver our work. Finally, the support we receive from our partners such as local schools, universities and other local community organisations helps us to multiply our impact.”

Covid-19 closed the centre for a number of weeks, but work continued online via weekly programmes, family quizzes and extra academic classes.

“We are now back open and have since ran five weeks of socially distant summer camps for local young people. We have made enormous changes to ensure we can continue our work in a safe and compliant manner,” said Doyle.

The main challenge over the years has been financial and the annual draw has not been able to continue under the current restrictions.

Despite the challenges, Citywise plan to continue to grow.

Mr Doyle continued: “This includes expanding our Fast Track Academy to include support for third level students, to help local young people fully participate and thrive in college.

Our programmes are already up and running and they will continue to get bigger and better in the year ahead.

“The most important thing is not to forget the reasons for doing the work you do. Let that reason guide your approach and lead the way in terms of solving problems as they arise.”

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