September is the time of many transitions. Schools re-open, seasons change and Soar begins it’s third year of its life cycle. The last year has been one of consolidation, growth and in true to Soar form fast paced development. These developments included:
- Income generated in the September 2013-2014 window of almost €322,000
- Soar’s first 6 facilitators are trained and ready to begin increasing our impact in schools
- The growth of our team to include great people in Mark McDonnell as General manager and Sinead Shannon as Head of Research and Develpment.
The year to come is one where as fashionista and Soar co-founder Special K Swan would say ‘the genie is well and truly out of the bottle’. It is a year that I believe we will announce Soar as a high impact social enterprise that develops an international reputation as a model for working with and getting results with young people.
With that in mind, where as CEO of the Soar Foundation do I feel we are at present?
I feel we have chosen our facilitators well and am confident that the investment of having Tom Harkin of the Melbourne based Reach Foundation as part of the finishing school for their training was well made. Now they go in to schools and gain the final experiential learning that will be required for them to be able to facilitate Soar’s content with their own personality while always being on brand and meeting our objectives.
We have work to do on creating collaborations with other organisations, especially at the at-risk end of the spectrum so that as our scale grows and so does our number of interactions, our ability to ensure those close to the edge do not slip through is of greater importance than ever.
We have been working on a partnership with the Gaelic Players Association, an organisation I have watched since its inception with admiration. There is great potential in this partnership as it means we can have a much greater influence on the well-being of society, however it is a large project and I would advise that we proceed in a measured fashion keeping resources available in terms of people and time at the forefront of our minds.
Having spent a week in Barretstown – a seriously fun camp for kids effected by childhood cancer during the summer I feel our 6th class program could benefit from development to include more fun based activities and having one of Barretstown’s best staff members as one of our 6 facilitators will ensure that enhancement of the program is possible. Again this will improve something that is already working well to ensure it serves young people as best as it can.
I believe in our team with all my heart. Our general manager Mark McDonnell has proven to be an angel sent from above to bring Soar to the next stage. What he has brought organisationally, energetically and emphatically cannot be measured. He has young people at the heart of his day to day activties and will only grow in experience and efficiency.
Sinead Shannon has been another great addition to our small team. Her cut-through and process driven mind-set is an invaluable asset in where we are going next. She has a bright future and I am glad Soar can play its part in helping her get there.
Ciara Quinn, Soar’s first employee who is sponsored to work with Soar by her previous employer and Soar Founding Partner Stelfox Recruitment has done brilliantly in her new role overseeing Soar’s brand and how our story is communicated across all channels. She does all this while training as a teacher by night. Her role extends to assisting Karl and I in decision making and sensing the next course of action and is something that can not be replicated due to her having been on the journey with us from the very beginning.
I feel we have done exceptionally well to have raised €322,000 in the last year. Over all we have raised over half a million in the last two years. Yet at present we have been travelling month to month. Great credit due to all the Soar family including all of you reading this. Now it is time to push on to the next level and raise the funding required to be able to say….’Ok, that is the next year funded, now how do we turn that in to lasting impact in young people’s lives’.
With the creation and first meeting of the Sustainability Team, we have entered this transition to longer term pledged funding. It will come and it is not far off. When factors such as the new website, increased media awareness, better communications with parents and teachers and agreeing longer term partnerships with corporates intersect, something special is going to happen. All the signs are there. We are working on an updated income generation plan that will be the capsule for our passion to raise funding in a sustainable way. We just need to keep consolidating what has been created, staying true to the mission and purpose and most of all being confident and courageous to tell our story and ask for the money.
One thing that we do need to put our collective energy in to is sourcing a new home base for Soar. The Amnesty building in Temple Bar has been good to us but it is time to secure something more suited to running regular youth workshops and programs in house.
To close I am very pleased with where we are overall but know that we are only beginning. Where can we be this time next year? How many young people will be on their road due to Soar’s intervention? Who knows, but is very exciting when you consider what is possible.
My love to you all,