Aspire NI

It is a sad fact that the most predictable indicator as to whether or not you will achieve in life, is whether you are born rich or poor. The education attainment gap measures the gap in performance between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

Aspire NI believe no child should be held back from accessing education and a better future because of their economic background. Aspire’s purpose is to offer life changing support for children and young people to achieve their potential.

Impact of Poverty

In 2020-21, according to NISRA statistics, 49% of pupils entitled to free school meals achieved at least five GCSEs at grades A* – C (including English and Maths) compared to 81% of their peers who did not receive free school meals.

This disparity is higher again in areas of economic deprivation including Portadown where Aspire NI has chosen to work.

Investing in Children

Aspire NI grew from the idea that a child’s education and future prospects should not be dictated by their family’s income and to provide children in poverty with access to a supportive learning environment, skilled tutors and inspiring role models.

By offering homework clubs, Aspire provides a quiet place for children to do their work and study. If children need extra support, they can access tutoring through their bank of qualified volunteers which, because of the cost, might have otherwise been denied them. Above all, Aspire NI believes and invests in young people and encourages them achieve their potential.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” ― W.B. Yeats

Learning New Skills

Often children from a poorer background do not get to access the same extra-curricular activities as others and as a result have less well-rounded educational experience. Aspire Academy is a chance to study extra-curricular education or develop new skills such as Barista Skills, Business, Graphic Design, Music Production, Wellbeing, Gaming and Youth Work where students can also gain  OCN qualifications.

One of the highlights of their year is the Camp Aspire programme. A mini camp for primary school aged children focuses on wellbeing, positive choices and fun activities, while the camp for older children focuses on building a sense of belonging and culture identity in NI that has impacts on life both in and outside the classroom.


Today 103,400 children in Northern Ireland, are living in poverty, up from 69,000 when Aspire NI first began in 2016. Now, more than ever, there is a need to support these children and young people. Aspire’s approach is demonstrating success – 91% of their students achieved a minimum of 5 GCSEs in 2020-2021.

In providing crucial support and resources, Aspire NI have the tools to empower young people access more opportunities, build successful futures and contribute to their community.

Other partners who are making a difference

Identifying the right network of dedicated and ambitious partners has enabled us to deliver on our charitable purposes and activities. Here are just some of the life-changing projects that our grant partners have been involved in.

  • Mae Murray Foundation

    Mae Murray Foundation

    The aim of this member led organisation is to create inclusive environments and opportunities that enable true participation for all in community-based leisure and social activities.

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  • Women’s TEC

    Women’s TEC

    Women’s TEC was established almost three decades ago with a clear vision in mind: to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes and create a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

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  • Angel Eyes NI

    Angel Eyes NI

    Angel Eyes NI empower families with information and skills to raise aspirations and make informed choices for their child.

    Read More