Business for Good: National College of Ireland Early Learning Initiative

Business For Good | Mon 18 Nov | Author – Business & Finance

The Early Learning Initiative (ELI), run by National College of Ireland in Dublin’s Docklands, gives corporate partners the opportunity to develop bonds with the local community.

There is an opportunity, at the heart of Dublin’s Docklands to invest in lifelong learning for both your staff and the local community. At National College of Ireland, the Early Learning Initiative (ELI) seeks corporate partners who can support a variety of literacy and education programmes in the community. Employees at your business are invited to engage, as volunteers, with children and young people and develop bonds with the local community. Your business can also explore other ways of contributing to the sustainability of top-quality literacy and learning programmes.

Dublin’s Docklands has fast become home to numerous international corporations from the worlds of finance, technology and beyond. Long before their arrival, the Docklands was home to a community of people for whom the Dublin docks was their main livelihood. With the passage of time and the decline in traditional docking, the local community has had to retrain and rethink its involvement with the local labour market. Through a variety of programmes, ELI is supporting families in the north east inner city to develop the dispositions, skills and knowledge needed to achieve their educational, career and life goals.

Children using mbots at ELI’s Coding Club, supported by corporate volunteers.

Corporate partners have played a significant supporting role across all of ELI’s programmes, with both financial contributions and the participation of corporate volunteers in events such as Discover University, Zoom Ahead with Books, A Day in the Life and Language Cafés.

ELI’s flagship project is the ParentChild+ Home Visiting Programme. Specially trained local home visitors bring books and educational toys to families with a child from the age of 18 months. Visiting twice a week, the home visitor models play and interaction to the parent, leaving the books and toys as a gift to the family, enabling them to continue the play and learning in their own time. Families engage for two years and there are over 170 families in the Docklands currently on this programme. The ParentChild+ programme is supported by various corporate donors, having seen its value and results over the past twelve years. 

Pictured are children (LtoR) Filip Pasco Bukowski, age 2, from Dublin 1, Maya Rose Miller Moran, age 3, from East Wall, and Ellis Carabini, age 2, from Kinsealy, Co.Dublin, from the Parent Child Home Programme.

Since 2016 ELI have been adapting their home visiting and parent support programmes to meet the needs of families experiencing homelessness. This included the design of a special playmat for babies, who are finding it difficult to learn to sit up, crawl and walk in these confined cluttered spaces., .The project, entitled ‘My Place to Play,’ won Best Healthcare Initiative at the Irish Healthcare Centre Awards in 2019 (See Photo). 

ELI also works with older age groups in the community. One of the most popular and innovative activities ELI facilitates is the Robotic Coding Club. Now in its sixth year, it continues to engage students from local primary schools and after school services. Eight to twelve year olds are introduced to coding through programming a real life mbot over the course of ten weeks. Supported by volunteers from various companies, the highlight is the final robot challenge event.  

Sustaining ELI’s programmes has only been made possible through the long-term engagement of our very generous partners, whom we would like to thank. If you are interested in supporting us or becoming involved in our work, please contact | 086-4666438 | 01-4498628 or visit for more information.