Ulster Bank has today announced that they are to invest a total of €106,760 in funding for five community projects across the country, as part of round two of the £2.5million Skills & Opportunities Fund from Ulster Bank, RBS and NatWest, which was launched earlier this year. The funding will enable the five organisations in Cork, Sligo, Drogheda and Belfast to support disadvantaged communities by helping people to learn new skills, get into the world of work, or set up their own business.

The highest portion of this funding will go to the Irish Youth Foundation, who will receive €50,000 for their bike project, which will be rolled out in deprived, inner city areas of Cork. The project involves providing training in bike mechanics to upskill young people, some of whom are unemployed in the area and improve their job prospects.

Speaking about the impact this funding will have on the organisation, Sabina Cotter, Head of Grants and Programmes at Irish Youth Foundation, said: “We are delighted to receive support from the Skills & Opportunities fund to set up this exciting and innovative programme in Cork. Over 100 young people will benefit from this skills based programme. It encourages cycling and healthy living, develops a sustainable community enterprise, reduces bike crime and provides work experience and internships. Young people will also have the opportunity to receive a City & Guilds qualification in Bike Mechanics. This training can be directly applied to future careers opportunities so we are hugely grateful to Ulster Bank and all those who voted for us. Thank you.”

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Overall, 790 applications were submitted to round two of the Skills & Opportunities fund from across Ireland and the UK, while the 92 organisations that were shortlisted attracted 28,000 public votes. In total, 47 organisations in the two regions were awarded grant funding under this round, totalling over €1.8million.

In addition to the Irish Youth Foundation, the other four organisations to receive funding in Ireland were:

· Culture Connect in Drogheda, Co. Louth was awarded €4,165.
Culture Connect is a cultural inclusion programme targeted at vulnerable and at-risk children from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
· Sligo Volunteer Centre was awarded €4,165 for their personal development programme for unemployed people.
· Young Enterprise Northern Ireland in Belfast was awarded €35,000 for Quickstart, a schools-based youth entrepreneurship programme which targets 14-16 year olds across all Northern Ireland regions.
· Co Operation Ireland in Belfast were awarded €13,300 for a youth leadership programme, aimed at improving job prospects for unemployed 17-20 year olds.

Commenting on the announcement of the winners, Pauline McKiernan, Community Affairs Manager at Ulster Bank, said: “We are delighted to support these organisations through our Skills & Opportunities fund. Our aim with this initiative is to help people develop new skills, find employment or start a business. We firmly believe that the selected organisations and our local communities will greatly benefit from this funding. On behalf of Ulster Bank, I would like to wish all of them good luck with their projects.”

To learn more about the projects being funded visit: www.skillsandopportunitiesfund.ulsterbank.com.

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