It was mid-2010 when we initially came together with the Atlantic Philanthropies to discuss how we could support socially-committed and civic-minded under 25s to develop both themselves and their ideas for change.

We knew that there were social entrepreneurs, activists and innovators out there who were passionate about Ireland, passionate about creating the country they wanted to live in and personally committed to making social change happen at whatever level felt right for them. We opened our doors in autumn 2011 and we were excited, challenged and humbled by the people who took up the invitation to join us. Their level of insight into the challenges facing not only under 25s in Ireland todays but individuals and groups across Ireland and beyond have brought incredible learning to the Wave Change community. They presented solutions from personal experience on everything from challenges to mental and physical health, unemployment and underemployment, educational disadvantage- and advantage, our architectural and cultural heritage and Ireland’s multicultural society to amplifying voices in our society which are still left unheard. They acted on their ideas, bringing new thinking, insights and practical impact to their focus areas.

The Wave Change 9 month programme challenged the group to look at themselves as they looked at what’s not working in Ireland today. The programme asked them to question, to examine, to experiment, to re-engineer, to re-innovate and also to fail. Successes and failures were celebrated and supported along the way by the Wave Change community. Almost two years on from the graduation of the first group, we are only now starting to get a sense of the impact that they are having. Wave Changers are leading national organisations, representing their community at local council level, contributing to local and national debate on issues of importance to them, starting up social enterprises and contributing to the growth and development of social change organisations. They are being the change they want to see in the world.

Following the second year of the programme and coming to the end of the Atlantic Philanthropies investment, the Wave Change programme came to an end is its current format. The knowledge, experience and social capital generated over that time has been transferred into a new organisation, The School for Social Entrepreneurs Ireland www.sseireland.org, which runs practical learning and development programmes for early stage social entrepreneurs, from 18 years upwards. This website provides information on the Wave Change programme, learnings from both the team and the official evaluation carried out by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway (full evaluation in September 2014) as well as profiles of Wave Changers and selected media content produced over the course of the programme. We are happy to share more detailed information or have a conversation with anyone interested in the field of social entrepreneurship and the 18-25 age group. Please email lynda@sseireland.org for more information.

We’d like to thank our partners and supporters, The Atlantic Philanthropies- specifically Tom Costello and Jane Forman for their investment in and their commitment to developing this area for young people in Ireland. Thanks also to the Wave Change Steering Group and Youth Advisory Group, the many volunteers and friends who coached, advised and had numerous coffees and conversations with Wave Changers and the Wave Change team from the outset. The Wave Change team of Ffiona Rowland, Tobias Stapf and Anusha Aruvel and key volunteers Louise Riordan, Nigel O’Callaghan and Jessie O’Connor made the programme what it is and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland who incubated us over the programme duration and the team at NUI Galway who contributed so much to our learning along the way.

Finally, to the Wave Changers who took part, it was a privilege and honour to be part of your incredible journey, we continue to watch the waves that you make.

Lynda Stopford

Founder & Director

Wave Change