Washington Ireland Academy

The WIP Academy is our newest leadership development program. It has been created for people, aged 18 to 25, who are already involved in community work on a voluntary or professional basis. It aims to develop a diverse new generation of community leaders dedicated to peace, reconciliation, and cooperation. Participants do not need to be attending school or enrolled in a Further or Higher Education course to apply.


You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
C.S. Lewis

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
C.S. Lewis

Catalyst for change

Each year we select 30 emerging leaders who have shown the commitment, passion, and ability to spark change in communities across the island of Ireland. We actively seek people who have a track record of service and leadership within the community and the maturity and ability to deal with differences and diverse views in a positive way.

How does it work?

The WIP Academy, which is supported by the Bank of America and the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, takes place in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Each year, 30 young community leaders, who are committed to peace, reconciliation, and collaboration on the island of Ireland, are selected to take part in the WIP Academy.

The program includes a unique eight-week remote project that focuses on developing participants’ skills and abilities so they can continue to serve their community. Participants also hear from senior community leaders from Northern Ireland, Ireland, and the United States. The program also includes mentors and volunteers who help our developing community leaders to grow, reflect, and boost their knowledge and confidence.

Academy participants are nominated by community leaders or organizations who have sought consent from the nominee to do so. Each nominee is then sent an application form to complete. Applications are particularly welcome from people who are from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds and /or minority groups.

The nominations process opens in early spring and successful applicants will be contacted by early May. Orientation begins in early summer and participants usually graduate in September.

Designed with flexibility in mind

The program’s unique flexibility means participants can combine it with their home, volunteering, caring, or other responsibilities. Applicants do not need any formal qualifications to be suitable for nomination, but a track record of serving others (in any capacity) is a key requirement.

There is no fee to take part in the Academy. In 2024, when you apply, you can register for our travel scholarship which can cover up to 100% of your public transportation costs. WIP may also charter transport to certain venues.

What the WIP Academy offers

Building your network

Academy participants enjoy building a close-knit network with their peers from all around the island of Ireland, creating long-lasting friendships and career connections. They become part of a pioneering group of passionate individuals who are committed to serving others and leading in their community.

Leadership and skills development

The Academy offers participants an invaluable opportunity for learning, alongside leadership and skills development, as they work in small teams to complete a unique eight-week remote project. They also hear from senior community leaders from Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the US, and sharpen their skills through teamwork, CV and presentation workshops, collaboration, innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

Who are we looking for?


WIP is an action-oriented community. We are particularly interested in hearing from people who have strong views and a passion for making their vision for the future a reality.

Those who complete the WIP Academy will join our broader family of emerging leaders across society. We hope every member of the network will be an active member of the community and lead their individual initiatives after graduation in September.

Interested in dealing with Difference

WIP seeks to be a community of divergent views. Our Academy program includes a diverse spectrum of opinions and backgrounds. These are facilitated in spirited and respectful debates within a constructive environment. Our applicants should have a desire to share their views, while also having the ability to respect the shared views and opinions of all participants, whether they agree or disagree with their sentiments.

Innovative Ideas

The Academy seeks people who are willing to discuss and share creative ideas of how to tackle both the potential threats, and global opportunities, that face our shared island. We aim to provide a space for new voices to reflect on our future and to propose new solutions.


The WIP Academy is an informative and collaborative program where participants will share ideas from many different perspectives. The people who take part must be willing to interact with others, both online and in person, and truly engage with the materials provided. At WIP we see the diversity of views held by our participants as an advantage. The WIP Academy provides a space for new conversations and ideas to emerge across communities, traditions, and borders.

WIP Academy partners

Work Placement Partners

Within the WIP Academy, participants are provided with a unique eight-week remote project during which they work alongside one of our Work Placement Partners. Working in small teams, these curated projects focus on delivering a positive social impact and help our participants to sharpen their skillset through teamwork, CV and presentation workshops, collaboration, innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

Previous partners have included Amy Dacey (Sine Institute, American University), Jess O’Connell (NEWCO Strategies), Rachel Powell (Education Authority) and Sean Fitzsimons (Disability Activist).

Community Partners

WIP Academy participants also hear from senior community leaders from Northern Ireland, Ireland, and the United States. Alongside WIP mentors, leaders from established and innovative community organizations help our participants to grow, reflect, and boost their knowledge and confidence levels.