Citywise Blog

Improving Access to Quality Education Through Strategic Education Grants


March 21, 2017

Grants and Philanthropy, K-12 Education & Youth Development, STEM

(Original article can be found at: seeks to strategically transform teaching and learning to match the skills needed for a 21st century workforce. Through our partnerships with schools, districts, and nonprofits that break down barriers to quality education, students gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence to pursue successful careers and be productive members of their communities.

Our strategic grants program supports innovative, scalable solutions in STEM education with a focus on computer science and increasing exposure of underrepresented groups and girls.

Mission Bit (East Mission Initiatives) (US) aims to eliminate the tech divide for youth living in poverty across the San Francisco Bay Area by building computer programming and professional opportunity pathways for youth and young adults. Mission Bit has been a key Dreamforce partner for the last two years, leading coding workshops for over 200 middle school students from Oakland and San Francisco Unified School Districts. The grant will help support Mission Bit’s goal to create tech pathways for 10,000 students to enter a career in the tech sector by the year 2020.

Citywise Education (Ireland) provides educational and social supports to young people living in disadvantaged city communities in Dublin and Belfast, Ireland. Citywise plans to use its grant to turn 150 square meters (approximately 1,615 square feet) of existing Citywise space into a “STEMSquare” facility, a model environment to teach and learn STEM skills and concepts to about 1,500 youth in Dublin. The expansion will enable them to double the amount of students that they interact with in STEM activities – thereby increasing the pool of potential candidates in the future for STEM jobs.

Oakland Public Education Fund (US) is the only organization supporting all public schools in Oakland, CA, ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education. Through the work of partners like Self-eSTEM and the Boys and Girls Club of Oakland, this grant will allow 320 students to participate in FIRST Lego League, a nationally acclaimed robotics program that challenges middle school students along with adult coaches to use teamwork to research a real-world problem and develop a solution, and then to design, build, and program a robot for competition against other teams. This grant comes on the heels of’s new partnership with Oakland Unified School District to improve computer science education.

Girls Who Code (US) focuses on closing the gender gap in computing fields. Mobilizing leading executives, educators, and engineers, Girls Who Code developed a new model of computer science education designed to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the skills to succeed in the field. Our grant to Girls Who Code will support 40 girls in Los Angeles and Washington DC at the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program, a free 7-week summer class teaching 10th-11th grade girls coding at USC Marshall School of Business and Georgetown University.

TechPoint Foundation for Youth (TPF4Y) (US), the leader in technology education efforts for the state of Indiana since 2001, ensures its state’s underserved K-12 students have access to experiential learning opportunities that inspire the pursuit of STEM careers. TPF4Y’s grant will increase participation in the US2020 initiative and CoderDojo Indiana’s hands-on engaging STEM programs for 1,400+ K-12 students and 250 STEM professional mentors throughout Central Indiana. All of their programs focus on girls, minorities, and students from low-income backgrounds, indirectly resulting in the elimination of gender and racial disparities within STEM education and the workforce.

SchlaU School (Germany) supports unaccompanied minors and young refugees in exercising their human right to education and the opportunity to find work and become a productive member of society. SchlaU School will use its grant to improve their mentoring program and IT infrastructure, enabling 300 refugee students ages 16-18 to receive training equivalent to those that have had higher levels of education.

St. Dominic’s College (Ireland) is an all-girls secondary school in Dublin, Ireland. They’re focused on helping all students reach their full potential and have been committed to ensuring equity of access for their students to higher education with a STEM focus despite the many barriers which they face in their local community. Ballyfermot, where the college is located, has high levels of unemployment and is among the most underserved areas in Ireland. Higher education attainment in Ballyfermot is as low as 16%, according to the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015 – 2019. The grant to St. Dominic’s will help increase engagement and exposure to STEM programs, Professional Development Training, IT infrastructure and mentoring for its nearly 400 students, age 12-18, making it making it poised to become a leader in building the pipeline of women in STEM. is inspired by the work of our partners and we are proud to support their missions. By uniting the passion of our employees and the power of our product we aim to empower our youth, their families, and the communities where we live and work.

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European Volunteer David tells us about his involvement in Citywise

My name is David and for 4 months I have been in Dublin as part of European Voluntary Service.

First of all, I must say that since I’ve been at Citywise Education, I try to enjoy everything. This is my main goal daily, and has been very useful to overcome the disadvantages of staying in a country other than the one I was born in. Helping an organisation like Citywise, is always a challenge, but an enjoyable one at that.

Life in Citywise is full of small details, but at the same time, very enriching. My role is currently to help in the STEM program, which consists in preparing young people for careers in engineering, mathematics and information on technology. In Citywise, there are many generous teenagers who are willing to lend a helping hand. For instance, I have seen with my own eyes how a lad helped another student in his first day of class, as if he were the very teacher. There are many examples of big hearts between each other; seeing that is really edifying.

Having worked for 3 years in different social programs in Spain – I see that the methodology used in Citywise actually works, achieving fantastic results. Additionally, having felt the social reality of Jobstown, I think Citywise is a golden opportunity for children and teenagers living in this area of Dublin; to be encouraged to study in order to go to university, to have professional ambitions, to broaden horizons, etc.

At Citywise I find children with an intense potential. However their lack of self-esteem and lack of a social current often prevents them from achieving their ambitions. Day-to-day life in that area can be a deterrent to College, and that’s a pity, especially when it comes to young talent.

Two weeks ago we participated in the league of “First Lego League”. It has been a wonderful experience for me. This competition is a very interesting way for Tallaght boys and girls to get excited about robotics and programming. Two teams participated from Citywise, one of which archived in a commendable 5th place. I loved the preparation for the championship and also the pleasant atmosphere formed by the parents of the guys and the Citywise staff. This activity was a really effective means of improving the aspirations of all children involved in it.

Robotic Lego

Likewise, I participate in another program called Khan Academy, where through different mathematical and logical games, we show them that mathematics can be entertaining as well as being very useful for professional life.

In short, I realise that I am in an excellent place, learning day by day a form of social work which is very professional. In addition, I also learn a lot about children, about their way of thinking, seeing the future, and relating to others. At the same time, I try to do my bit in the promotion of each of them, in order to improve their professional, human and social skills. As I am in a developing process myself it is my ambition that in future I will be of greater assistance for all the boys and girls that are bringing about such a wonderful change in Tallaght.

Logo to state funding erasmus and leargas

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My day at the Lego Robotics Finals, by Rohan Kuzhippillil


It was the 21st of January. The day we went to Galway city for the ‘First Lego League’ for the first time in my life! Our only transport was the bus (obviously!). At 6:30am we got our stuff that we needed and headed for the bus, it was exciting though because  we were sitting with our friends.  We left Citywise at 6:45am. We had a 2 hour drive ahead of us! We talked, played games and ate lots of sweets as well, thanks to Ben! My team was called the ‘Stubborn ones’! We named it like that because our chosen animal was a donkey. We wanted to our name be related to our chosen animal so that’s why. When we got to Galway city, we went to the Radisson Blu Hotel. The driver dropped us at the hotel and we brought our stuff inside, to the hall where the competition was being held.
The hall looked bigger in the picture than I thought it would be! Me and Kane were at the board controlling the robot, while Gabriel, Ben and Adam were in charge of the project. Our first round went well we got 67 points and on the second round we got 59 points. The leader boards were shown and we were in the top 5. It was unexpected because it was our first time we were in this competition! You had to be in the Top 8 to go to the 3rd round, we were in! I could not believe it!

We did very well in the 3 round that when the leader board we were fifth! You had to be in the top 8 to advance to the quarter-finals.

But trouble came when it was our turn. Our arm was not working on the Robot, but we got 50 points.There was a lunch but Alannah’s Dad and Allums Mom bought Supermac’s for us and the other team. After lunch they showed us the leader board you had to be in the top 4 to quarter-finals, we got 5th! We were so close to being 4th because the other team had 54 points! But we were 5 in Ireland and it was our first time!

Liam’s team got a award for ‘Best research’ and we are proud of his team. When going back to Dublin, Chris surprised us by bringing us to burger king!

He bought us all meals. There was a playground and when we were finished we went outside and we played some chasing, it was very fun!

When we got back to Citywise, I got collected by my Dad and we went home.

I would like to thank these people for there efforts in helping our team get 5th place!

The bus driver for helping us get there, Alannah’s Dad Callum’s Mom for getting us food, Adam’s Mom, Kane’s Dad, Ben’s Mom, Gabriel’s Mom and my Dad for influencing us, David for helping us with the code, Abdul for helping us to know what to do, my team and most of all Chris, for helping us with everything.

That is the end. Thanks for reading!  pastedGraphic.png

Written by Rohan Kuzhippillil

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My Citywise Trip to Laurel Lodge, by Jessica Norton

On November 1st 2016, me and some of my closest friends that I made in Citywise went on an exciting trip to Laurel Lodge. It was one of the best and funniest trips ever. We arrived at Laurel Lodge at about 11:30am and this was where the fun started. When we got there we dropped our shoes there and left to begin the adventure. We got dropped off at the bottom of a mountain and began to climb it. Some of us were already tired and it was only the 1st mountain!!! We climbed and climbed. We then were nearly at the top of the mountain when we reached a part that was really mucky, and it was hilarious when my friends walked through it and came out in their socks!!! Their shoes had gotten stuck in the mud. Then to get them back they had to walk back through it in their socks.
When we finally reached the top it was beginning to get dark, so Doyler kept on telling us if we didn’t get down the mountain before dark we will have to climb another mountain. But that was never going to happen.
We eventually got down and hiked back to Laurel Lodge. When we got back we were all fighting over who got the showers. For dinner we made fajitas, they were yummy. We also played some really fun games like charades, Pictionary and Harry Potter trivia. After that we all went to bed.
We got up at 7:00am to make the delicious breakfast and soon after that we packed up, got on the bus and went home.
This was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on and I would hands down go again sometime.

Check out my video comic strip here -> Jessica’s Video.MP4

Written by Jessica Norton

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LEGO League Newspaper Coverage

FIRST LEGO League Coverage 2017 – Tallaght Echo, Thursday 26th January

Click to enlarge:

FLL 2017 echo article


Lego article photos page

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Citywise Newsletter January 2017

Screenshot at Jan 25 14-28-58

It’s the beginning of the new year and Citywise wants to keep you updated with the latest events and news around here, so have a look at our latest newsletter for the most up to date information. Click the link below to see it.

Thanks, Christopher

Click Here –> CWE2017newsletter final



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Citywise FLL Robotics Team Research projects

“The Wooftones” and “The Stubborn Ones” compete in the FIRST Lego League Finals in Galway this Saturday. Here is their research projects based on the theme Animal Allies


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Hands up, who wants to be a volunteer?

30/11/16 Janessa Scott at Citywise Education, Durkan Centre, Fortunestown Way, Jobstown, Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron

30/11/16 Janessa Scott at Citywise Education, Durkan Centre, Fortunestown Way, Jobstown, Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron

Citywise volunteer, Jenessa Scott, highlights the need for more volunteers on National Volunteer Day – Citywise relies on volunteers to run all of its programs and without their help, we wouldn’t be able to impact as many as 500 young people a year.

This article appeared in the Irish Independent and can be found at the following link:

It appears below for your convenience. Citywise


Hands up, who wants to be a volunteer?

A new, online one-stop shop aims to encourage more third-level students to volunteer, with benefits for society and their CVs

Student volunteering has come a long way from the days when it was seen merely as a bit of do-goodery by the more privileged for the less fortunate.

That remains a core motivation. Nothing will change about the importance of students and, indeed, citizens generally, devoting time and energy to supporting worthy causes.

Whether helping to provide food and shelter for the homeless, building facilities in third-world communities, staffing a helpline or working in a local charity shop, it is, simply, a good thing to do.

Every year in Ireland, thousands of students from universities and institutes of technology carry out over 100,000 hours of volunteering.

The benefits of free labour to organisations or individuals lacking in cash or other supports are obvious, but there is also a growing focus on the rewards for students.

Such gains are easily quantifiable and include developing teamwork, communication and leadership skills, allowing graduates to show potential employers the desirable attributes they have along with the ubiquitous 2:1, or even first class honours, degree.

When it happens at an international level, volunteering facilitates learning about language and cultures that is essential in today’s global world.

There is also evidence showing that getting out and volunteering can improve individual mental health and well-being.

Billy Norman, a customer account manager in Unilever, the multinational consumer goods company, says that in an increasingly competitive employment market, when he reviews CVs, “the selflessness of a volunteer can stand out like a beacon in a sea of self-interest”.

On top of any altruistic motivation, he says that “functional expertise that a volunteer can learn in an organisation offers a head start compared to others who start at the beginning when entering permanent employment for the first time”.

Pádraig Haughney, regional manager with the FDM Group, an international IT services company, manages a team that interviews 3,300 graduates each year. He says that, generally, it is graduates who portray extra-curricular experience – such as volunteering – on their CVs who impress and tend to be short-listed.

Volunteering also gives students an opportunity to obtain a greater sense of social responsibility, and greater public awareness of their responsibility to solving social challenges.

Colleges themselves are under pressure to demonstrate how higher education is adding value to society. In Ireland, and elsewhere, civic and community engagement is part of a mix of performance indicators considered when it comes to decisions on State funding.

Now, a new initiative from the Irish Universities Association Campus Engage network is putting structure on the world of student volunteering, with benefits for all concerned.

It is not confined to the seven universities and, currently, Dublin Institute of Technology, IT Tallaght and IT Tralee are also participants.

The 10 colleges have joined forces with civil society organisations such as Barnardos, Special Olympics Ireland, Teenline and Trocaire, and many more less well-known community services, to launch the portal,

It is an online, one-stop shop that allows volunteering opportunities to be more widely promoted and volunteers gathered quickly and effectively.

It has the potential to access more than 100,000 registered college students across Ireland and serve more than 8,000 organisations.

The portal was officially launched this week to coincide with United Nations International Volunteer Day.

Kate Morris, national coordinator of Campus Engage, says that by effectively using technology to make volunteering easier, they are helping universities and institutes of technology to scale up a socially impactful enterprise. offers a single site where students can connect with, and pick and choose from, volunteering opportunities, both nationally and internationally.

It also allows them to keep an online record of the hours they have put in and the skills they have acquired through volunteering.

In terms of boosting a CV, that sort of record is invaluable, and more and more colleges are certifying extra-curricular activity, such as volunteering. It gives students an extra stamp on their education passport.

Colleges participating in are beginning to use the portal to track their students’ volunteer hours so they can recognise their efforts in ceremonies such as the President’s Civic Spirit Awards in IT Tralee, or the President’s Volunteer Awards in University of Limerick (UL). In UL more than 17,000 hours volunteering were put in in the past year.

Recently, Trinity College, in partnership with US multinational Intel, announced an Employability Award scheme, designed to encourage students in certain disciplines to increase their ‘career readiness’.

Successful participants will receive a certificate of recognition. Up to 30 hours extra-curricular activities, which could be volunteering, is one of the boxes students have to tick if they want to earn the award.

For colleges, provides ready access to a massive database, allowing them to measure the social impact of volunteering at local, national and international level.

Giving something back at after-school study sessions

Janessa Scott volunteers at weekly after-school supervised study sessions in her neighbourhood. She has had a personal connection with the programme since she was a child herself, and usually helps out on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

As a seven-year-old, Janessa started after-school study in Tallaght to support her education – and she has stayed with it to give something back.

The study sessions are run by Citywise Education, a not-for-profit organisation, which works in disadvantaged communities to support and motivate young people.

When Janessa reached the age of 12, there was no Citywise programme for second-level students, so she turned into a volunteer and progressed up the organisation’s leadership system, while also completing her schooling.

She has now moved on to third-level and is studying engineering in IT Tallaght.

Meanwhile, at Citywise, Janessa is a senior leader, organising her own activities. She used all her new-found skills to run engineering games during summer camp: “I got them to build a bridge out of pipe cleaners and straws, or a basket where they can protect an egg.”

Citywise, which has activities in Tallaght and Ballymun in Dublin, as well as Belfast, relies on volunteers for teaching, coaching and supervising activities across its wide range of programmes from learning support to canoeing, music, table tennis and basketball.

Janessa says Citywise are seeking more engineering student volunteers for the new STEM room it is building in its facility in Tallaght.

‘Volunteering helps you learn about yourself and the world around you’


Aidan Harte, above,  started volunteering with Age Action as an IT tutor when he was an undergraduate, studying geography, sociology and political science in NUI Galway.

“I stopped by the Galway Volunteering Centre and, because of my subjects, they suggested Age Action. I really enjoyed it, but had to stop after a year and a half because of time constraints,” he says.

Aidan is now doing an MA in public advocacy and activism and is volunteering with St Vincent de Paul in Galway. It was through Age Action that he heard about the work of the SVP in his area, and started to volunteer there about three years ago.

“When people request financial assistance, we visit them in their homes to assist in whatever way we can. We offer friendly, non-judgemental advice, and financial assistance where possible,” he says.

Aidan continues to volunteer “because of the community aspect involved; it really gives you a different perspective on society as a whole, and the work that the SVP does is truly inspiring”.

“There are so many ways in which you can volunteer and you can learn so much, both about the world around you and yourself.”

He admits that “it has definitely helped me to mature as an individual; I was in a kind of an oblivious juvenile bubble beforehand.”

Irish Independent


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Get that “Khan Do”! Attitude with Khan Academy Maths Club

image001Khan Academy sees 17 young people come after school to practice their maths skills every Tuesday. A personalised learning resource for all ages, Khan Academy provide practice exercises, video tutorials and a personalised dashboard which allows students to study at their own pace and outside of a classroom. The Citywise awards night saw four students awarded for the progress they have made over the last year and a half. Each week, the students are set different tasks well as a brainteaser, each week, to complete during the class. They are left to their own devices to find resources with the information they need to complete the task and if all else fails, our leaders are there to help! One of our award winners, Earl John Villanueva, told us what he liked about the website. “The videos are easy to understand and they are fun to watch.” Earl John said.

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Christmas Revision Camp – Maths and Irish

Christmas revision Camp flyer

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"Volunteering with Citywise has helped to make me."

- Sean Preston
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