JP McManus Benevolent Fund donates €4M to kick-start unique LIT community engagement project

JP McManus Benevolent Fund donates €4M to kick-start unique LIT community engagement project

€18m project to have transformational impact on Regeneration area

Project will deliver dynamic community infrastructure including sports facilities, flexible community services, education resources and key links with LIT and Thomond Park

A €4m donation by the JP McManus Benevolent Fund is set to boost plans by Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) to develop a unique community engagement facility on campus for the benefit of Limerick and, in particular, communities on the city’s north-side.

The ‘Community Engagement Gateway’ is a flagship project of Limerick Institute of Technology’s (LIT) Campus 2030 Master-plan and will deliver a range of social transformation benefits for the wider community on the Northside of the city and beyond.

The development, which will cost a total of €18m, will deliver a 6,675m2 facility that will use sport as a vehicle for community engagement activities, with its core focus on enhancing educational opportunities and pathways.

LIT is actively working with a range of other funding sources to finalise the delivery of the project and is confident that the ambitious project will achieve the planned timelines.  Planning for the overall project is expected to be lodged in January of next year, with construction to commence in October 2016 and the facility to be completed and in operation by 2018.

Announcing the €4m donation by the JP McManus Benevolent Fund, LIT President Dr. Maria Hinfelaar said, “This donation will kick-start this far reaching and exciting project and will be a game-changer for the wider community. We are deeply grateful and really energised by this award from the JP McManus Benevolent Fund.  It will make such a difference and help us to raise the rest of the funds required so that the project can be completed by 2018. It will transform the area and the lives of people living there.

“The project builds on work we have been doing for years in engaging with the community and supporting initiatives that raise aspirations among young people to believe in themselves and stay in education. But all these initiatives lacked a dedicated home and now we are finally going to have this.”

Sue Ann Foley, Chairperson of the JP McManus Benevolent Fund said:,  “A fundamental purpose of the Fund is to identify opportunities to support community based and not-for-profit initiatives, particularly in the area of education, healthcare and local infrastructure. The Gateway project which will ultimately position LIT as a link between the Moyross area, Thomond Park and the city centre, will provide access to important community facilities and education allowing the north side of the city to integrate as a complete and connected unit. We are therefore delighted to be able to contribute to such a life-changing and extraordinary scheme by LIT which will create such a positive legacy for future generations.”

Said Conn Murray, CEO of Limerick City and County Council,  “LIT’s Community Engagement Gateway will be a key project in the wider renewal already underway in these north-side areas of Limerick and is in keeping with the Limerick 2030 plan that will guide the economic, social and physical renaissance of the city and wider County/Mid-West region.

“The donation by the JP McManus Benevolent Fund is a massive boost for the project and we look forward at Limerick City and County Council to working with the team and doing what we can to bring this project, which will change the lives of current and future generations, to fruition.”

Another key aspect of the Gateway project will be a new public plaza between LIT and the adjacent St. Nessan’s Community College – soon to be merged with the Salesians Secondary College to become Thomond Community College – that will be used as an educational corridor, a creative focal point for the community and a resource for public/community outdoor events.

A range of existing activities will now be headquartered in the Gateway. These will include the LIT GIVE project, which encourages students to engage in voluntary activities; the Go4IT Programme, which supports young people from Limerick’s Northside who have academic potential but are from backgrounds with low progression rates to third-level education; and the Business in Community project, an education inclusion programme that partners schools with business.

Also included will be the very successful ‘Reclaim Limerick’ Double Club and Gap programmes, which are run in conjunction with Limerick FC and Limerick City and County Council. The Double Club programme is targeted at primary and secondary level students to enhance literacy and numeracy skills and provides a renewed focus on learning.

The Community Engagement Gateway will allow all these initiatives to scale up significantly in addition to incorporating a range of additional community based programmes.