“Closing the education gap makes a real difference. I wanted to contribute to that with my sales and finance background”
23 August 2022
Christophe Zeegers started working for TADA, ToekomstATELIERdelAvenir, a year ago. After fifteen years of working in the banking sector, he found his new mission at TADA, helping to close the education gap in Brussels.
Mid 2019 Christophe stopped his job in banking and co-founded a carpooling app start-up. But then came corona. Christophe: “A scout contacted me about the job of Corporate Relations & Communication Lead at TADA. As I started reading about TADA, I realised this was the job I was looking for. Ever since my time at university I always said that in order to fight inequality and save the world the education gap needs to be closed. And that is what TADA tries to do for children in Brussels. I was glad that this job came my way and that I can really make a difference with my experience in finance and sales. As the function entails talking to corporates, foundations and major donors I could really bring in my experience of talking at top level. ”
TADA is a network that involves citizens, civil society and businesses in the integration and emancipation of Brussels’ teenagers coming from most socially vulnerable neighbourhoods. “TADA offers Weekendschool to pupils from 10 to 13 years old every Saturday during schoolweeks. We reach more than 1500 pupils in 28 different groups in Molenbeek, Schaarbeek, Sint-Joost and Anderlecht. Every Saturday these children join us to learn more about a certain job during a month. For example they learn more about the judicial system for a month. Then they have talks with an attorney, a judge, … and made an excursion, so in this case they went to a court house and did a role game.", Christophe explains.
TADA also has an Alumni Network, for whom they organise regular activities. “And then there is also TADA 2.0, a network to inspire adults on inclusion in daily life, work and school. We want to inform them and make them think about this topic."
Partnerships in finance, knowledge and network
“In Brussels 4 children out of 10 would benefit from our Weekendschool. That is a gigantic number of children needing support. Our organisation grows with a few percentages each year, but the potential of helping more kids is still very big. We get no structural help from the government. We get support from project calls and from partners, foundations and major donors”, Christophe says.
“We will keep on focusing mainly on these groups of donors and will react to calls. But as we all know grant writing can take up a lot of time, and does not give you certainty of ressources. For me the network of partners will remain an important point. They do not only support us financially, but also enrich us with their knowledge and network. Our partner AXA for example lets us use their offices, people from AXA come and share their experiences as guest teacher during Weekendschool, … We can also have company visits with our partners.”
“If you do a good job on gathering and analyzing impact numbers throughout the years you are set for the future.”
Christophe senses that the pandemic made things a bit more difficult for fundraising. “At the beginning of the pandemic people were aware of the local problems and were willing to help, but then the focus went back to Ukraine and other important issues. Also budgets are being cut, because of the gas/economic crisis. And we notice that major donors switch what organisation they support after a while. So we have to keep on looking for new partnerships and donors. Also some partners keep on giving, but in smaller amounts. So there are some challenges to be overcome.”
Good fundraising starts with…
“Good recruitment”, Christophe replies. “Especially when you expect people to write grants, you need people that like doing that and are really motivated, because it takes up a lot of time and motivation. Also teamwork and the dynamics in a team are crucial to making people feel good and giving them energy to go for it.”
Fundraising also entails a lot of networking and good organisation” Christophe adds. “If you have some standard texts and material it eases work. If you do a good job on gathering and analyzing impact numbers throughout the years you are set for the future. That really helps create good argumentation for future presentations, meetings and calls.”
Christophe would like to elaborate his network amongst other fundraisers to get to know the sector. “We work 220 days per year, 8 hours per day, and we are always busy. It is sometimes hard to take the time to go to a four hour activity or meeting of which you are not sure you will take anything usefull from it. Yet sometimes that one tip or contact you needed pays off. So the FAB certainly is a network I want to tap into.”
TADA (short for ToekomstATELIERdelAvenir) is a network that involves citizens, civil society and businesses in the integration and emancipation of Brussels’ teenagers coming from most socially vulnerable neighbourhoods.
In Brussels, TADA supports more than 1500 socially vulnerable teenagers through a network that intensively coaches them during many years. Through their weekend schools and alumni network, they offer extra-scholarly activities that set the learning (-bar) high, while equally fostering the wellbeing of the child.
Increasingly, individuals or organisations (in and outside of Brussels) also show an interest in TADA as they wish to launch initiatives inspired by TADA. This is TADA’s less tangible, indirect impact.
TADA exists thanks to countless people and (private) organisations. They join forces to engage as many people as possible to increasingly take individual responsibility towards a more inclusive society, with equal chances for development for all.