Supporting parents, communities and schools in the education of children

The Early Learning Initiative (ELI) at National College of Ireland was developed to address the problem of educational underachievement in marginalised communities. Building upon tried and tested models of early years’ intervention, it is our mission to work with communities in areas of greatest need, to provide world-class parent and child learning support programmes.

Early intervention

At three years of age, there are already big differences in language and mathematical development between children from rich and poor backgrounds. This gap continues to widen, if it is not addressed before children start pre-school. Research, from a wide range of countries, shows that intervention in early childhood is the most effective way of influencing the development and success at school of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

From its earliest beginnings in 2005, ELI has had the full support of NCI and was initially funded through the generosity of a consortium of socially minded Irish business people whose goal was to improve educational attainment in the inner city communities adjacent to their offices, and the NCI.  

Progress and plans

Developed in collaboration with the local community, ELI aims to address disadvantage through a comprehensive programme that provides for children; their parents, families, and educators from early years up to third-level. For the past five years, ELI has operated as a pilot programme. In that time we have been successful, but as our earliest participants advance and mature, so must ELI. Over the next five years it is our intention to grow and develop, broadening both our reach and impact.

To ensure the implementation of our programme priorities, ELI will need to at first maintain, and then gradually grow, its level of funding. We will seek this support in part from our current donors and corporate friends but we also hope to grow and diversify our funding base with new philanthropic contacts.

A number of corporate donors have made generous early commitment and this gives us great hope that, having learned about the ELI, many more business and community leaders will pledge support in the coming weeks and months.

Key goal

  • To provide world-class parent and child learning support programmes, which enable positive educational change in the local community