CoderDojo’s James Whelton among Social Entrepreneur finalists vying for €775k fund

8 Jun 2012

James Whelton; Sean Coughlan; Trevor White, City of a Thousand Welcomes; Emma Murphy, Turning Institute; Rachel Cassen, LEAP; Tony Griffin, Soar; Lucy Masterson, Hireland; Aviva Cohen, Neuro Hero; George Boyle, Fumbally Exchange; and Karl Swan, Soar

CoderDojo is among several organisations competing for a €775,000 prize fund in the 2012 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards. The finalists will spend the next three months vying with others for a share in the prize fund.

The finalists are George Boyle of Fumbally Exchange, Lucy Masterson of Hireland, James Whelton of CoderDojo, Trevor White of City of a Thousand Welcomes, Aviva Cohen of Neuro Hero, Emma Murphy of The Turning Institute, Rachel Cassen of LEAP and Tony Griffin and Karl Swan of Soar Foundation. 

Each of the eight social entrepreneurs head young organisations with innovative ideas for major social change in Ireland in areas as diverse as employment, eating disorders, computer coding for children and supporting families of people with disabilities.

CoderDojo, which is approaching its first anniversary, has been instrumental in kick starting a coding renaissance among Ireland’s youth.

The CoderDojo movement, founded by Whelton and entrepreneur Bill Liao last year, has become a truly national phenomenon in Ireland and any given Saturday more than 1,000 schoolchildren are learning how to write software. It has also become an international success, with CoderDojos springing up in New York, London, San Francisco and Tokyo.

The finalists will spend the next three months vying with each other for a major share in the €775,000 prize fund with the ultimate winners announced at Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s annual awards ceremony in October. Three of the finalists will be chosen to participate in Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s Impact Programme and will benefit from a support package of €200,000 each. 

The five runner-ups will participate in Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s Elevator Programme which is valued at €35,000 each. The awards programmes are supported by DCC plc and will help emerging social entrepreneurs develop their initiatives so they have a big impact in Ireland by effecting real social change.   

Below: A video we shot earlier this year showing a day at CoderDojo, including interviews with co-founders James Whelton and Bill Liao’s John Kennedy visits the recent CoderDojo at Dublin’s Science Gallery 


Social Entrepreneurship Ireland has created more than 800 job opportunities

The 2012 finalists have been chosen from nearly 200 applicants. Since 2005, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland has provided support to 150 social entrepreneurs, directly investing more than €4m into supporting these exceptional individuals. These in turn have directly impacted nearly 200,000 people and created more than 800 employment opportunities. 

“At a time when there is so much negativity in Ireland, it is humbling to see the spirit, passion and abilities of these people who have new solutions for some of our social problems,” Social Entrepreneurs Ireland CEO Sean Coughlan said.

“We know that these ideas have the potential to scale and grow, and we’re looking forward to working with each of them over the coming months to increase the impact that they have in Ireland,” Coughlan added.

Below: a video overview of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s activities


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years