|Alma mater||Harvard University |
University of Limerick
Born in New York City, but raised in Limerick and Galway, Ireland, Mike Feerick's sought a Harvard MBA but first gained an internship with philanthropist and early mentor Chuck Feeney. Feerick credits Feeney with helping to foster his particular interest in social entrepreneurship, stating that working with Feeney also made him realise that the best way to address any social issue was to create a sustainable business model around the need.
Feerick has served as the Acting managing director of Interactive Investor International and has also held positions with Bertelsmann Music Group. He previously owned the franchise rights to JFAX Ireland which sold to Esat Telecom in 1999, a leading Irish telecommunications player. He is also founder and former CEO of Yac.com, a web-based unified messaging telecoms provider. Feerick sold Yac to Nasdaq-listed J2 Global Communications in 2007.
Feerick set up the precursor to Alison, an e-learning sub-contracting business for Microsoft called Advance Learning in 2000, a business that developed into a specialist providing training for the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) desktop training certification.
Feerick launched Alison as a for-profit social enterprise on April 21, 2007, a MOOC-based educational technology platform. Alison is widely recognised as the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider, pioneering global access to education, workplace skills training, and employment opportunities. In outlining the basis of Alison's operation, he explained to David Bornstein of the New York Times that 'education underpins all social progress. If we can improve the general education level worldwide, global poverty can be dealt with profoundly and a general standard of living can be vastly improved.'
Feerick highlights the 'sustainable' manner of Alison's operating model as the unique and critical tenet behind the success of his venture to date. The Economist noted in 2013 that through this means, Alison generates 'plenty of revenue' on its website through the use of a freemium model with hosted banner advertising while still providing its learning materials of 'mostly vocational education' for free.
Feerick said he was motivated by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26, and suggested it as a model that can be used by governments worldwide to address the growing global Skills Gap.
In 2012, Feerick received an Arthur Guinness Fund award for Social Entrepreneurship for the work undertaken with organising the Irish diaspora through the Ireland Reaching Out programme he founded in 2009.
Social and Community Initiatives
Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO)
Feerick founded Ireland Reaching Out, a volunteer-led, community-based National Irish Diaspora Programme in 2009 with the stated goal of connecting people of the Irish Diaspora to their ancestral roots in Ireland. Feerick and Irish economist David McWilliams successfully pitched the idea to the Irish government in 2010. Ireland Reaching Out welcomed its first returning group in July 2011. In 2017, Ireland XO volunteers across Ireland welcomed home 300 returning Diaspora groups. The Ireland XO Programme is funded by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, the Heritage Council of Ireland, Google and the Irish Lottery. Ireland XO operates across Ireland north and south.
University of Limerick
Feerick was the founding chairman of the International Advisory Board of the Kemmy Business School, at the University of Limerick, Ireland's largest undergraduate business school and is a Director Emeritus of the University of Limerick Foundation.
Irish Support & Advice Service
Feerick was appointed Chairperson of the Irish Support & Advice Service, Hammersmith, London in 1995. As Chairperson, Feerick founded an outreach programme, funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and the Mott Foundation, assisting the "forgotten Irish", a term which refers to elderly Irish emigrants to the UK in the 1940s and 50's who subsequently met hard times.
Through Alison, Feerick has pioneered free learning as an innovative alternative sentencing option within the US court system where the judge does not wish to impose a custodial sentence. His view are that incarceration should be avoided if at all possible, especially for minor offences, and that free mandatory education should be a part of every court sentence worldwide
Social Entrepreneurship Motivation
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- "The attack of the MOOCs". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
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- "Projects in Ireland and the Philippines receive honourable mentions in ICT in Education prize | Education". www.unesco.org. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Doyle, Carmel. "10 social entrepreneurs get €700K from Arthur Guinness Fund". Silicon Republic. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- Nicholson, Chris V. (18 July 2011). "In Tough Times, Irish Call Their Diaspora". New York Times. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- Nicholson, Chris V. (18 July 2011). "In Tough Times, Irish Call Their Diaspora". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
- "Mike Feerick on LinkedIn: "Congrats to Ireland Reaching Out…". LinkedIn. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
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- RTE - Video Summary- Ireland Reaching Out (5 August 2015), Ireland Reaching Out July 2015, retrieved 3 January 2018
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- "News - US Offenders Punished with Galway Course – The Sunday Times". MoocLab - Connecting People to Online Learning. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
- High, Peter. "CEO Of The World's First MOOC Provides Hope To Former Prisoners Through Education". Forbes. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
- Bhagat, Rasheeda (9 January 2014). "Just about anyone can study in this v@rsity". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
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