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IT community groups receive new funding
Tuesday, August 13 2002
by Matthew Clark

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The government has announced that more than a dozen groups have secured funding from an EUR3 million initiative to support technology in communities.

The CAIT II (Community Application of Information Technology) initiative, which follows last year's comparable CAIT I, is designed to help people who for various reasons are not able to fully utilise computers and technology. The first tranche of funding, announced on Tuesday, amounts to EUR831,888 and will be given to 15 different organisations.

In all, up to EUR3 million has been made available by the government to fund the second CAIT Initiative. Successful projects will receive funding of between EUR1,500 and EUR127,000. In order to receive capital, applicants must be not-for-profit community organisations and they must prove that their programme will benefit the community.

Hopeful organisations must also show that they are actually capable of carrying out the objectives in their proposal, and perhaps more importantly, grant winners must have ways of attracting people to take up their offering.

"Really the goal of the initiative is to get as many people as possible to use ICT," a spokesperson for the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs said. "But in the back of our mind is e-government. Soon all government services will be on-line and we want as many people as possible to be able to access these services." She went on to say that the training and education aspects of different schemes are "an added bonus."

Some of the notable groups that received funding under the plan include the Bawnogue Unemployed Group in Dublin, which is looking to offer IT accessibility to the unemployed, lone parents, people with disabilities and members of the travelling community. A similar project is the Computeach Computer Centre in Ballymun, Dublin, which will provide extra IT equipment, and creche costs, for an existing centre which targets the unemployed, the elderly, women returning to work and early school-leavers.

Another interesting project will take place at the Shanganagh Castle Education Unit in Dublin, where an interactive learning library consisting of six independent learning stations will be established to allow prisoners to practice newly learned IT skills.

Meanwhile at The Western Care Association in Mayo, the "Arts and Communication through Technology" project will introduce people with learning disabilities to technology, and will train participants to communicate with each other and their families, through film, photography, and print.

The entire group of organisations that will receive funding includes Killucan Care in Westmeath, Cahir Development Association in Tipperary, St. Sheelan's College in Tipperary, FDYS Community Training & Education Centre in Wexford, NMCDA Kells in Meath, Athlone Community Taskforce, Enable Ireland NE Services in Meath, St. Joseph's Day Care Centre in Cork, Dundalk Access Technology Action, Media Access Training in Dublin and finally Enable Ireland National Adult Services, also in Dublin.

In all the department said it had received 195 applications for the CAIT II programme and these 15 were selected out of 30 applications received in March. A further 49 applications were received in April and 35 of those projects are expected to receive capital. The remaining applications, received in May, could receive funding depending on how much of the EUR3 million is left after cash is distributed to the April and March applicants.

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