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A. Why Participate in Young Social Innovators?

1. What is YSI’s Social Innovation Programme?
The Young Social Innovators (YSI) Social Innovation Programme for Senior Cycle is a youth-led, team-based, action focused programme. Working in teams, young people aged 15-18 identify a social issue of concern to them, explore it and come up with real actions and responses. The programme forms part of the work of Young Social Innovators in promoting and leading the way in education for social innovation in Ireland. YSI’s programmes encourage, motivate and create new opportunities for young people to actively participate in the world around them, developing their innate sense of justice, responsibility and passion to create a fairer, more caring and equal society. YSI also offers Social Innovation Action Programme for Junior Cycle, targeted towards young people aged 12-15.

2. What are the benefits of participating in YSI?
YSI taps into the idealism, enthusiasm and talents of young people. They will use and develop many skills which will help them to participate actively in shaping the betterment of society. In the process, they will obtain insights into themselves as well as insights into voluntary and community work and they will discover the benefits of working in groups and forming partnerships. In particular, participants develop skills in critical and creative thinking; communicating; information processing; working with others and being personally effective. 

B. Getting Started/Before you begin

1. Do I need to attend in-service workshops?
We advise all YSI Guides to attend the in-service workshops that take place in various locations each September and January.  Workshops will give you the tools to guide a YSI project team, as well as a range of active learning methodologies and any up-dates on the current years’ Programme.  Attendance at YSI In-services count towards accreditation as a YSI Guide. These workshops are facilitated by experienced trainers, all of whom are teachers and have first hand experience of being YSI Guides. In-service workshops are held nationwide.

2. How much time is required to do a YSI project?
If you are running the programme in a school/centre, we recommend that YSI is given a slot on the timetable.  Two classes would be ideal but please allocate at least one class period per week to give adequate time to the project.  This is especially true in Transition Year, when students will frequently be away from school on activities/ work experience etc. Or you can consider doing it out of class time. If you are doing YSI through youth services/youth club, we recommend the team tries to meet at least once a week.

3. Who can participate?
In 2016/17, YSI’s Social Innovation Action Programme for Senior Cycle is open to all young people aged 15 – 18 in: 

  • Transition Year
  • 5th Year
  • Youthreach Centres
  • Youth services
  • Youth groups/ clubs
  • Garda Youth Diversion projects
  • Centres of Social Innovators
  • Special needs groups
  • Northern Ireland Youth Services
  • Northern Ireland second level schools/educational organisations

4. In what subject areas can YSI be incorporated?
The Young Social Innovators programme can be incorporated into a broad range of subject areas.  It can become part of citizenship education, community service work, development education, contemporary issues education (LCA), environmental education, Geography, Social Personal and Health Education, Religious Education, English, History, Home Economics or any social awareness programme that might be in operation in a particular school/centre.  To date, YSI has been built into all of the above and has also emerged as a distinct programme on the timetable in some schools/centres. It works well as a stand alone Transition module and can also be easily incorporated into a range of alternative educational organisations such as Youthreach Centres, Youth Services and Garda Youth Diversion Programmes.

5. What are the 4Cs of social innovation?
Over the last decade YSI has worked with teachers and Principals to create and develop a pedagogy for the learning and practice of social innovation. YSI teams apply the 4Cs to organise their Social Innovation Action Project. 

  • Care: Young people work in teams and choose a social issue they feel passionately about and gain an in-depth understanding of the issue they care about.
  • Co-operate: They collaborate with each other, involve people within their educational setting and create links within their community.
  • Change: Through their understanding of the issue and the links created, they can take action to make a real and lasting change in society.
  • Communicate: Throughout their project they communicate their message to raise awareness and influence others.

6. What resources/support is available to participants?
YSI is a comprehensive programme with various supports in place to help you along the way. These include: 

  • In-service workshops for Guides
  • which includes a  dedicated resources area
  • Private Online Learning Community for YSI Guides
  • Innovate! an e-zine for all participants
  • YSI’s Education Team can be contacted any time by calling 01 6458030 or emailing for further advice and support.

7. How many young people are on a YSI team?
All YSI projects are team-based. There should be between 5 and 25 members in each team. This is the optimum in terms of resources and workability.  However, if your group has between 25 and 30 members, and all wish to work as one team, then please contact YSI and we will facilitate you.  A team larger than 30 can be difficult, so we would recommend dividing the group into two teams.  Of course, if a group wishes to divide into a number of teams and to work on a project each, that is acceptable also.  Do what best suits the group dynamic.

8. Can I work with another school/centre?
Yes, teams from different schools can co-operate with each other and work together on the same project. This can be a useful way to increase community awareness about an issue and also a way of pooling resources.

9. Can a YSI project have an international dimension?
The project can certainly link with other countries. However, there must be some local focus to the work. For example, a project that looked at child labour in the developing world should also explore the local dimension, showing the interdependent nature of the world.  Action on a global issue starts at local level.

10. Are there any expenses involved in participating?
Young Social Innovators is a not-for-profit organisation with charitable status and is reliant on sponsorship and fundraising. 

There is a one off annual participation fee of €15 per participant due in October 2016. This fee is a small contribution towards the expenses incurred in running the YSI Programme.  If, for any reason, a young person is unable to pay this fee, please notify us in writing. Inability to pay this fee will not exclude participation in the Programme. 

Other expenses that should be factored in include transportation costs to and from a Speak Out and our Annual Showcase (optional element). Due to geographic location of your school/ centre, additional expenses may be incurred such as accommodation and subsistence.

11. Can I submit a report in Irish?
Yes, YSI welcomes project reports in English and Irish.  A number of gaelscoileanna participate in the YSI programme each year.  We cannot however guarantee that the Judging panels will interview in Irish.

12. What are YSI Challenges?
YSI challenges are essentially categories of different types of social justice topics. 2016/2017 Action programme has several challenges which fit into 11 main themes. These themes are: Make Our World Healthier (Physical Health), Make Our World Healthier (Mental Health), Make Our World Greener, Make Our World One World, Make Our World Safer, Relationships & Sexual Health, Step Up, Make Our Community Better, Make Our World a Better Place for Young People, Make Our World Fair & Just and Make Our World More Inclusive and Poverty Free. Examples of YSI projects are included in the YSI Challenges part of the website. On submission of a project report, YSI allocates a team's project to a particular Challenge.

C. Evidence of Learning

1. What do YSI teams have to do?
YSI is about self directed learning. Every YSI team is required to:

  • Compile and submit a Project Report in March.
  • Advocate on their social issue at regional Speak Outs in March.

2. What is a Project Report?
Every team submits a copy of their Project Report in March 2017 using our online Project Report Tool. Project reports should use the 4Cs of Care, Co-operate, Communicate and Change as headings and can use the sub headings underneath each ‘C’ to structure their report. 

Each team will receive feedback on their report in the following areas: 

  • Care: Youth led & Level of understanding
  • Co-operate: Teamwork & Working with others
  • Change: Youth led & Innovative response
  • Communicate: Tell your story

3. What is a Speak Out?
A Speak Out is an opportunity for the young people to advocate on their project topic to their peers in order to educate and raise awareness of their issue. All participating teams are invited to give a two minute presentation on their chosen social issue at a YSI Speak Out event. Teams are expected to focus on the message of their project and their innovative response. These presentations are filled with energy and enthusiasm and are also an excellent opportunity to communicate, inform and influence others. 

4. Will there be any YSI Speak Outs in my area?

The YSI Speak Outs are held in various locations around the country throughout March.  These events enable project teams in a region to come together to advocate their messages for social change. Full details of event dates and venues can be found in the YSI Calendar.

5. Do I have to attend a Speak Out?
Every team must attend and present at a Speak Out to get full feedback from YSI in April. Feedback is given on both their Speak Out presentation and on the Project Report.

6. Do teams get feedback?
All YSI teams who present their project at a regional Speak Out and submit a Project Report will receive feedback from Young Social Innovators. The feedback will be on the YSI website in April 2017 (accessible through Guide log in). 

Each team will receive feedback on their report in the following areas:

  • Care: Youth led & Level of understanding
  • Co-operate:Teamwork & Working with others
  • Change: Youth led & Innovative response
  • Communicate: Tell your story & Advocate* (Speak Out)

*Please note that Care, Co-operate, Change and Communicate (Tell your story) will be assessed through the Project Report and Communicate (Advocate) will be assessed through the Speak Out presentation. 

D.  Optional YSI Opportunities

1. What is the YSI Den?
The YSI Den is an optional opportunity within the YSI programme. Teams make a pitch to a panel of experts and ask them for money, means or mentoring to develop their YSI project. Interest in the Den is indicated when submitting Project Reports in March. For details of the YSI Den 2017, check out our website in the coming months. Please note that due to huge interest in the Den, a selection process will take place.

2. What is the Fun-raising Challenge?
YSI’s Fun-raising Challenge invites YSI teams to come up with creative ways to raise awareness about their social action project and raise funds for their chosen charity at the same time! Teams can enter the YSI Fun-raising Challenge and be in the running to win a Fun-raising award. YSI is looking for the most creative and innovative idea which combines fund-raising and awareness-raising. The winners are not necessarily those that raise the most money, but those who ‘Fun-raise’ in the most innovative way. Interested teams can apply when submitting their Project Report.

3. What are the Young Social Innovators of the Year Awards?
Each year, YSI celebrates the social innovation work of young people in Ireland. A selection of projects are showcased and assessed at the Young Social Innovators of the Year Awards. For further information, please check our website in the coming months. The Young Social Innovators of the Year Awards ceremony takes place in May.

4. How can I sustain a YSI project?
If teams feel that there is still valuable work to be done on a project, they can always talk to the future YSI team and determine if they would be interested in continuing their existing project and making it a ‘Step Up’ project. Some projects’ goals may not be achieved in an academic year and needs further time and effort. A ‘Step Up’ project is a project that develops and sustains an existing project. As ‘Step Up’ projects have a different starting point, we have a separate category for them at our Annual Showcase. 

A project can be passed on to another group e.g. next year’s Transition Year or Youthreach YSI team.  Please note however, that the new team must develop the project significantly, and the project should be identified as a ‘Step Up’ Project when submitting a Project Report. Like all YSI projects, ‘Step Up’ projects can apply to the YSI Den and Fun-Raising Challenge to get further support. 

E. Other elements of Young Social Innovators

1. Social Innovation Action Programme for Junior Cycle
YSI has launched the Social Innovation Action Programme for Junior Cycle.  It aims to enable young people to understand social innovation and how it can help to address social issues. Developed from YSI’s learning at senior level, it provides ideal tools for CSPE, RE and SPHE project work or other subjects with a community based action element. It has been designed as an online resource that teachers can take and use with a group of students. The programme is ideal for action based work within CSPE, SPHE, RE or other subjects and can contribute to building your school’s Wellbeing Programme.

2. Social Innovation Week

New from YSI, Social Innovation Week will take place from April 3rd - April 7th, 2017. YSI is inviting schools and organisations to host an event that celebrates all the work that young people have done in the area of social innovation and social justice. The event itself should be, as far as possible, planned and carried out by students. Further details will be made available on the website in coming months.

3. Social Innovation Recognition Awards for Schools

YSI provides prestigious Awards to secondary schools taking part in its social innovation programmes. Our School Awards scheme identifies two levels of achievement.

School Certification

Awarded to schools that complete a Young Social Innovators Action Programme (Senior) on an annual basis.

YSI Schools of Excellence Award

Awarded to schools who fully complete the Young Social Innovators Action Programme (Senior), Young Social Innovators Action Programme (Junior) and participate in Social Innovation Week.