Blackrock College receives €1.8m from US organisation over five years

Funds to private school in 2011 accounted for 13% of organisation’s total grants

One of the country’s elite private schools, Blackrock College in Dublin, has received $2.36 million (€1.8 million) in grants from a US-based philantrophic organisation in the past five years.

Figures provided by the American Ireland Fund (AIF) show the fee-paying school received €1.7 million in grants from the fund in 2011. The school received a further €64,502 in the years 2008- 2012.

Worthy causes
Part of the Worldwide Ireland Funds, the AIF dedicates itself to supporting worthy causes supporting programmes of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development throughout Ireland.

According to the fund, the purpose of the 2011 grant was to assist Blackrock’s development programme, which was putting in place new buildings and facilities in the areas of a new senior school building, new Willow Park Junior School and a new sports and assembly facility.

The contribution to Blackrock College accounted for 13 per cent of the AIF’s total grants of €17.3 million to organisations across the island of Ireland in 2011.

Chief executive of the AIF, Kieran McLoughlin, said: “It would be inaccurate to make a judgment of the fund’s educational policy on the basis of one recipient.

"The fund supports a range of projects from major university capital programmes to access education programmes for those with special needs or from disadvantaged economic backgrounds."

Educational gifts
Mr McLoughlin – whose total remuneration in 2011 stood at €448,769 – said the AIF in its educational gifts "does not just cater for one socioeconomic group but caters for all".

The AIF is part of the Ireland Funds founded in 1976 by Sir Anthony O'Reilly and former US ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney.

Last week the AIF hosted an exclusive gala black-tie event in Washington DC at which Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke.

Mr McLoughlin said the money received by Blackrock College in 2011 “was just one of 40 gifts made in the education sector by the AIF in 2011”.

Explaining the grant, Mr McLoughlin said: “Blackrock College approached a number of prospective donors in the United States, primarily past pupils, setting out the case for support.

“On the basis that Blackrock is a properly constituted educational institution and registered charitable body in Ireland, the fund agreed to accept the donors’ gifts for the purpose of supporting Blackrock College.”

The Department of Education confirmed Blackrock College received no State capital funding in 2012 and 2011.

The school received State capital grants of €143,335 in 2010 and €126,103 in 2008.

Further explaining its education funding, Mr McLoughlin cited the AIF's initiative of "No Mind Left Behind" that funds scholars in third-level from challenging backgrounds and has funded 20 scholarships in its first year.

He also cited the Music Generation Fund that was established three years ago with a €7 million commitment from U2 and the Ireland Funds with the scheme aiming to give every child who wants one a musical education and will result in the creation of 120 teaching jobs.