NUI Galway's Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) has been shortlisted for the 2019 Chambers Ireland Corporate Social Responsibility Awards. The CKI is one of 35 finalists shortlisted following 1700 applications submitted for the awards. The CKI has been shortlisted in the category of ‘Community Award' alongside six others. This is the 16th year of the Corporate Social Responsibility Awards and only the second time that a University in Ireland has been shortlisted.
The prestigious Awards are partnered by Business in the Community Ireland, run in association with the Department of Rural & Community Development and sponsored by BAM Ireland. The Awards event will take place in Dublin on Thursday 19th September 2019. The Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) was established at NUI Galway in 2004 and originally funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies to foster and spread deeper commitments to community, civic engagement and social responsibility. A core function of the CKI has been to educate students for their role as active citizens and to ensure that the NUI Galway is a valuable resource to local, national and global communities.
NUI Galway was the first university in Ireland to develop this commitment and since that time other universities and institutes of technology have followed the path created by NUI Galway. Dr Lorraine McIlrath, Director of CKI, said: "As a University in Ireland, we want to better serve community and society in a sustainable and meaningful way. NUI Galway Vision 2020 centralises the importance of civic engagement, volunteering, service learning, research and engagement with communities as hallmarks of the university experience and practice." Over the last fifteen years, the CKI has developed a series of pathways that connect the university, its staff and students to the community through civic engagement and social responsibility projects, including the ALIVE Volunteer Programme which has seen over 12,000 students volunteer in the community over the last decade; Community Service Learning which sees 1,500 students undertake community projects every year, and the Youth Academy, a mini-university that caters for 10-12 year olds and provides 25 courses every semester. Another successful project is Café Saol, which was established on a pilot basis in 2015. It is the first and only social enterprise café on a higher education campus in Ireland, and it became a mainstream NUI Galway catering facility in 2018. The café promotes inclusive employment practices for those marginalised from employment. Dr McIlrath added: "All of the activities are only possible because of the community of practice approach we adopt to deliver all of our programmes. The CKI is a very small team so we work in partnership with 3000 staff of the university. Our aim is to develop an ethos of engagement across the university, working in collaboration with others to create larger social change."