Supporting thriving communities across Dublin with ChangeX
ChangeX, a community engagement platform has, with Microsoft’s support, funded more than 500 groups in communities across Europe and the United States since 2015 to start impactful community projects that support environmental, economic, and social issues.
In March 2022, ChangeX announced of funding to support local community groups, schools, and organizations in Dublin. Those who applied for funding had 30 days to build a team and design an action plan to be eligible for funding up to €5,000. Through this funding, Microsoft has supported 43 local groups to start community projects with 1,150 beneficiaries to date.
The 2022 funding built on the impact delivered through the 2021 Dublin Community Challenge, which supported 23 local groups to start community projects with more than 3,500 beneficiaries to date.
“We...are particularly happy with our ongoing commitment to making our outdoor spaces more pollinator friendly and more child-centered at the same time”—Ronan Bennett, teacher
Sandy Hazel and her husband expanded their established community garden, Flanagan’s Fields, by planting fruit trees and berries with support from the Dublin Community Challenge.
“We wanted to grow more food, but buying fruit trees is expensive,” Sandy said. “When we heard about this funding, it was perfect because it allowed us to get the idea off the ground.”
The garden provides community engagement in an urban environment, and Sandy said that adding fruit trees and berries started as an idea to give local children the chance to pick their own fruit, even in an urban setting. A “berry wall” featuring strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries went in first, followed quickly by a range of fruit trees including scarlet crab apples and pear trees.
Sandy was able to host a harvest party for local community members to pick and eat their own food from the garden.
Ronan Bennett, a teacher at Powerstown Educate Together National School in Tyrrelstown, used funding from the Dublin Community Challenge to start a Pollinator Plan Juniors project to establish a wildflower garden at the school.
The funding provided new tools, signage, and seeds to get the wildflower garden up and running. The garden is used to give children a hands-on, whole-school experience to learn skills and information together about stewardship, environmental care, and biodiversity.
“Every child in our school has benefitted from this project in some way,” Ronan said. “The children have a real sense of ownership of the garden, and it’s something we are very proud of as a school.”
With the success of the first garden, the school plans to use the remainder of the initial funding to create a second wildflower garden on the grounds.
“We couldn’t be happier with the impact of this project and are particularly happy with our ongoing commitment to making our outdoor spaces more pollinator friendly and more child-centered at the same time,” Ronan said.
With funding from the 2022 Dublin Community Challenge, Erin McGann started the Cycle Bus initiative in her community to give primary school children the opportunity to safely cycle to school as a group with marshals. Support by parents, grandparents, teachers, and volunteers, the program provides an environmentally friendly way to build community and boost children’s skills.
“A Cycle Bus is a brilliant way to journey to school,” Erin said. “It reduces the number of parents driving their children to school by car, plus it helps our kids gain confidence in cycling and increases their overall fitness and wellbeing.”
Erin’s project, North Bay Cycle Bus, runs weekly on Wednesdays. It used the funding to purchase first aid kits, a helmet camera, high-visibility vests, bicycle horns, and a set of bicycle lights for each child. The program has been a success among the children as well as the community. The Lord Mayor of Dublin joined the group for their first cycle, and the Dublin City Council worked with Erin to repair potholes along the Cycle Bus route during the summer.
“Our little community of cyclists is welcoming more new members who are choosing to leave the car at home and join in actively travelling to school,” Erin said.
Anna Nagle and the Residents’ Association at Glasmore Park in Swords started a Pocket Forest in their estate with the funding from the Dublin Community Challenge. A Pocket Forest is a small area of densely planted native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers that aims to bring a forest ecosystem to the heart of towns and cities.
Anna and the local Residents’ Association had been actively planting trees and flowers for a few years when they heard about the funding available through Microsoft.
“At that point, we were looking to bring more biodiversity and greenery to our estate,” Anna said. “We wanted to plant native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers in the green area at the entrance to Glasmore Park to introduce biodiversity and a wild nature escape, not only for local residents but also for people in Swords more generally.”
The funding allowed them to purchase a variety of trees and shrubs including birch trees, cherry trees, and honeysuckle. They were also able to purchase mulch and bark, bags of soil, and tools such as rakes, spades, and forks.
Anna and the residents dedicated the Pocket Forest to two groups: residents of their estate who have passed away and frontline workers who have supported their community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has been really exciting to see our community coming together to create a tranquil space and honor the legacy of the estate,” Anna said.