Partnership prepares for the road ahead

A dramatically successful 2014 has inspired the Boston- headquartered Irish American Partnership to rejuvenate and modernize its operation and prepare for substantial growth in the years ahead.

Although audited figures are not yet finalized, at this writing the non-profit charity estimates that 2014 brought in over $1.1 million in revenue, with 85 percent going to its mission in Ireland. Donations were received from more than 30 states throughout the United States.

In 2014, cash grants to both the North and South of Ireland were sent to 94 primary schools, 11 universities, and 21 community organizations. In the last two years 170 primary schools, in 27 of Ireland’s 32 counties, have received cash grants from the Partnership. The funds were used to rebuild school libraries or provide science teaching materials.

The university funds were mostly used to help pay for disadvantaged but well-qualified high school graduates to attend college, most of them the first collegians in their families. Dublin City University, University of Dublin, University of Limerick, University of Ulster, St. Patrick’s, Mary Immaculate, and the Smurfit Business School all received funds.

Ten Partnership events were held in 2014, in Boston, Washington DC, and Chicago, including three successful golf tournaments, and the traditional Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. Two musical events featuring the extraordinary Affinity performers from Dublin were held in Boston and Chicago. The special Nollaig na mBan (Irish Women’s Christmas) held its third annual breakfast on Jan. 6 this year in Washington DC.

In 2014, the Partnership moved its offices in downtown Boston to a somewhat larger, more modern, and efficient facility, making it far easier to accomplish its tasks. In 2013, the Partnership had one full-time and two part-time employees; in 2014, there were two full-time and one part-time employees; and there are plans to add a third full-time employee this yeartin 2015. A lot of work is being done and progress is being made by the work of very few.

The Board travelled to Dublin and Belfast to investigate and examine many of the schools and projects that the Partnership has been funding. The members paid for their own expenses. Visits were made to 23 sites and meetings were held to discuss the appropriateness of each grant and how the funds might be used more productively.

Last year, a new committee headed by Dublin businessman Liam Connellan with board members Niall Power Smith of Dublin and Sir Bruce Robinson, a new Board member from Northern Ireland, was installed in Ireland to advise on new grants and project selections.

Also last year, the Partnership created a small endowment fund with gifts from Irish Americans and Partnership Board members. The $300,000 fund accepts general bequests and those directed to specific areas and projects in Ireland. This year, the Partnership will present the fund to Irish Americans throughout the United States and Ireland as a way of honoring their heritage for the many years ahead.

Last month, the Partnership received notice of a substantial bequest that will more than double the existing endowment fund, which is supervised by a special Board committee.

A new “state of the art” computer system is being installed in the Boston headquarters, an innovation that will assist staff in recording donations, analyzing results, and producing reports. The system will help research the existing 22,100 donor files to ensure that best business practices are being followed. The capital costs for the installation, though expensive, were fully paid for by the Board of Directors.

A major effort this year will involve promoting national public awareness of the Partnership’s work in Ireland. The Board of Directors is convinced that fortifying Ireland’s educational system will produce strong leadership in the years ahead. That Irish America will help such efforts has been proven by the Partnership’s success. The more public awareness, the more successful results.

There is hardly an American of Irish heritage who does not know where in Ireland their ancestors emigrated from. Helping schools and project in those areas connects people to their heritage.

Wishing the Partnership success this Saint Patrick’s Day is to help build a stronger Ireland.