The 2018 Coca-Cola Thank You Fund has officially launched! The fund offers €100,000 of support for inspirational youth projects. Critically-acclaimed writer and 2018 Thank You Fund ambassador Stefanie Preissner was at the launch, calling on youth-oriented non-profits and community groups to leap into action and get creative with project ideas.
Getting off the ground, an aerial playground, suspended from the high wood-panelled ceiling of a charming Victorian tenement off Dublin’s bustling heart, offered an adventurous setting for the launch of this year’s Coca Cola Thank You Fund. The Aerial Cirque performance studio, on the fringes of the pulsating Temple Bar, teaches young people to quite literally reach for the stars through the mid-air three-dimensional art form. Fitting then that among the colourful silk drapes and steel hoops that enable budding aerialists to express themselves, a fund that helps children and young adults achieve their potential got off the ground for another year.
New Thank You Fund ambassador Stefanie Preissner wasted no time getting into the swing of things. The Co Cork writer and actor set aside a fear of heights to climb up onto one of the hoops. “I feel like a four-year old on a swing,” she joked, gliding pendulum-like through the air. “My motto is I’ll try anything three times!”
Back on solid ground, the Can’t Cope Won’t Cope creator explained why she had made an exception to her long-standing policy of declining ambassadorial roles. “I get asked to be an ambassador for lots of things,” she said. “And I have never done an ambassadorship before because I can’t lie, I can’t put a picture of me and a washing detergent on my Instagram and be like, ‘This is such a great product!’.”
“I grew up in youth theatre and I started a youth theatre for the young people in my town in Mallow when I was 17 – I pillaged my friends for money to put on shows through gofundme accounts. And I just thought when Coca Cola came to me about the Thank You Fund: ‘This is something I would apply for if I was still within the age limit.’”
“There are some brilliant ideas, but they don’t have support. This is where we want to play a key role, and we want to be remembered as a business supporting that kind of initiative.” – Petre Sandru, Country Manager at Coca Cola Ireland
€100,000 for inspirational projects
In 2018 Coca-Cola is offering up another €100,000 to support inspirational projects across the island of Ireland that are making a difference in the lives of young people and their communities. Grants of €5,000, €10,000 and €30,000 will be awarded to the winning projects. While most of the applications will be assessed by a panel of expert judges, this year a People’s Choice award has also been introduced, offering the public the chance to vote for their favourite pitch.
The People’s Choice Award
“Why the people’s choice award is important is the same question as why is it important to vote in any election or any referendum,” said Stefanie. “It’s always important to vote so you get your say, so you don’t feel hard done by when a thing you really believe in didn’t get support.”
Taking an innovative approach to sustainability
Within the fund’s overarching aim of inspiring and supporting young people, in 2018 it is focusing on projects that tick at least one of four specific objectives:
World Without Waste
Petre Sandru, Country Manager at Coca-Cola Ireland, explained why sustainability was one of the key themes. “It’s really important for us,” he said. “Recently our corporate office in Atlanta launched a new campaign around sustainability which is called ‘A World Without Waste’ and that’s a core element of our 2020 and beyond strategy.”
That ambitious industry-first vision will see Coke strive to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can the company sells worldwide by 2030. Petre expressed pride that this year’s grants will bring to 70 the number of groups supported by the fund since its inception. “It’s all about supporting communities and young people in their personal and professional life,” he said.
Supporting communities and young people
“I think young people do need to have a kick start in the beginning and to really feel they are supported to come up with new ideas for their communities.
“It is not easy to start from scratch and sometimes people have brilliant ideas, but they don’t have support in the beginning - so it becomes really difficulty for them to bring those projects to life.
“This is where we want to play a key role, and we want to be remembered as a business supporting that kind of initiative.”
The Irish Youth Foundation
The Thank You Fund is supported by the Irish Youth Foundation, which helps in the unenviable task of selecting the winning entries. Sabina Cotter from the Irish Youth Foundation, encouraged groups to tell Coca-Cola their stories and apply. “There are a lot of amazing projects across Ireland, both north and south, that are doing really fantastic work with young people,” she said.
“We really need projects and youth workers out there that support young people and help them realise what their talents are and what potential they have.”