A total of 120 golfers took part in An Cosán’s 25th Golf Classic at Powerscourt Golf Club on Friday 1st September 2023 to raise funds for Ireland’s largest community education provider. An Cosán, which was founded in 1986 to break the cycle of poverty for families living in West Tallaght, is now transforming lives of adult learners, families and communities across Ireland through its network of over 220 community partners.
Its unique education model includes offering courses from foundation up to degree level, as well as a range of additional support services, including early years’ education and care, laptop loans and digital skills, and one-to-one mentoring and counselling. Following their round of golf and dinner in the clubhouse, the An Cosán supporters gained an insight into the impact of the organisation’s transformative education when adult learner Tamara Kearns shared her experience of empowerment through education.
Ms Kearns, who completed a QQI Level 5 Personal and Professional Development course with An Cosán last year and is now entering her second year of An Cosán’s BA programme in Leadership and Community Development (accredited by South East Technological University), said she “absolutely loved” where her lifelong learning journey had brought her so far. “An Cosán is an amazing adult community education provider,” she said. “The wraparound supports cover all aspects of college life because An Cosán wants its students to be able to focus on their work and to succeed.”
Ms Kearns, who left school early due to bullying, said she found applying for a bursary with An Cosán to be “effortless”, and that she had felt greatly supported by An Cosán’s counselling service. “Studying has become a part of my daily life,” she said. “Every opportunity I get to squeeze in some research is crucial, whether it’s listening to podcasts whilst driving, or reading aloud whilst cooking dinner. Education is a huge part of my family’s life now because when I’m learning, so are my kids.”
Ms Kearns said returning to education had greatly enhanced her CV and enabled her to secure “a fabulous job” with Northside Partnership’s health and well-being team. “My plans for the future are to continue with my education; I think I’ve caught the bug!” she said. “I would like to do a Master’s and I want to write a book. I want to see more people go back to education and I want to see communities working together.”
Thanking Ms Kearns for sharing her story, Chair of the Board of Directors Anna Durkan said: “An Cosán is all about giving opportunities to learners – adults and children – to develop skills and confidence so that they have choices in life. It’s about providing a pathway out of poverty. All our programmes are based on breaking down barriers – the barriers that women so often face, the barriers that society frequently doesn’t even recognise. We believe that, by coming together in solidarity, we can smash the cycle of inter-generational disadvantage and create brighter futures for women, families and communities. We are hugely grateful to all the companies who supported us today, especially our title sponsor, D/RES Properties.”
An Cosán CEO Heydi Foster said An Cosán was not in the business of handing out empowerment. “It is our adult learners, like Tamara, who empower themselves with the tools that we offer,” she said. “We support them to unlock a world of opportunities by helping them unleash their potential within. An Cosán will continue to be a model for how to work in an inclusive way with communities who have faced being excluded and marginalised for too long. And we will work with and help shape the policy of Government so that they understand the impact that this way of working has on people’s lives and hear the voices of those it empowers.
“We couldn’t do this work without our generous supporters and without funding from SOLAS, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Pobal, Tusla and the Dublin Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board.”
To find out more about An Cosán, see www.ancosan.ie.
Pictured: An Cosán CEO Heydi Foster (left) pictured with adult learner Tamara Kearns at An Cosán’s Golf Classic