Ability to Work Fund

The deadline has passed for applications to this Fund. 

Join us at our open Fund roadshows in Kilkenny on Monday February 3rd and Louth on Friday February 7th where we will be discussing our open funding opportunities.

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What is the Ability to Work Fund?

This is a €1.5 million fund created by Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) in partnership with State Street and the Government of Ireland.

The Ability to Work Fund will support not-for-profit organisations to empower more people with disabilities to gain employment. A disability might be a physical or intellectual disability, a learning disability, or a disability due to traumatic brain injury or a mental health condition. The funding will be available over three years, from 2020 to 2023.

What are the aims of the fund?

The fund has two main aims:

  1. to empower 250 people to progress along the pathways to employment by investing in organisations that provide training, upskilling, education and other services to people with disabilities; and
  2. to double the impact of successful applicant organisations by providing project funding and other supports such as:
    • strategic planning
    • communications strategy development
    • mentoring
    • leadership training
    • market research
    • financial modelling (forecasting your organisation’s financial performance)

What does the fund offer?

  • Cash grants of up to €90,000 each year for three years*
  • A business supports package to help not-for-profit organisations expand their business expertise and expand and deepen their impact
  • A place on SIFI’s Accelerator Programme, a programme which provides training from experts from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors
  • Project performance management, including managing its impact
  • Access to SIFI’s networks of charities, social enterprises, government and donors
  • Access to training and mentoring from State Street employees

*Applicants can apply for any amount up to €90,000 for three years. SIFI will decide how much money to award, which may be less than the amount requested. The amount of the award will depend on how many organisations are selected, their past financial performance, and the budget they submit as part of their application. 

Who can apply?

We are inviting applications from organisations that work with people with an intellectual, physical, mental health, learning or sensory disability who are aged 17 and older. The organisations must be engaged in creating ways to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities through education, training and skill-building.

What kind of projects can apply? 

Projects must meet the criteria set by both SIFI and the Ability to Work Fund. These are outlined below. 

Please note: Projects seeking funding for capital assets (such as buildings, vans or equipment) are not eligible. 

Social Innovation Fund Ireland criteria

    • The project must address a critical social issue 
    • It must be innovative in an Irish context
    • It must be possible and desirable to replicate the project or grow its impact in Ireland (or internationally, although this is not a requirement)
    • The project or organisation must have a proven track record
      • The project must be based on the island of Ireland and make its main impact in the Republic of Ireland
    • The applicant must be a not-for-profit organisation such as a charity, trust, company limited by guarantee, and so on. It must not be a commercial company

Ability to Work Fund criteria

      • The project must relate to education, training or preparation for the workforce
      • The project must support people with disabilities aged 17 and over to achieve better employment outcomes
      • The project must be able to show how it helps people in at least two of the following outcome areas:
          • Enable people with disabilities to progress into further education or training 
          • Increase job placement
          • Increase job retention
          • Increase access to programmes with industry-recognised qualifications
          • Enable people to attain industry-recognised qualifications
            • Build basic job-readiness skills 
          • Increase internship and work experience placement.
      • Participants in the project must be living with a disability
        • The project must be able to measure the outcomes for participants
        • The project must consult its participants about its design, delivery and evaluation
      • Applications from projects which provide individual pathways for participants are more likely to be successful

Which projects cannot apply?

Projects that are not eligible to apply are:

    • Advocacy projects
    • Projects seeking funding for capital items such as buildings, vans, renovations, equipment, and so on
    • Research projects
    • Projects promoting or aligned with a political party
    • Projects that only accept participants of a particular faith or religious denomination
    • Projects where the main impact is outside the Republic of Ireland
    • Projects led by people under 18 years of age
      • Projects that are an idea (only) and that have not yet started
    • Projects that do not benefit people with disabilities 

Which applicants are not eligible?

    • Applicants under 18 years of age 
      • Commercial companies (the fund is only open to not-for-profit organisations such as charities, trusts, schools, or companies limited by guarantee) 
    • Staff, directors and their immediate family members of Social Innovation Fund Ireland and State Street

Can Social Innovation Fund Ireland Awardees apply to this Fund?

Social Innovation Fund Ireland Awardees are eligible to apply to this Fund but must note that:

  • The same project cannot take part in two Accelerator programmes at once
  • The same project cannot take part in a Game-changer and Accelerator programme at once
  • Previous projects who have already taken part in an Accelerator / Game-changer programme must be able to demonstrate how another programme will add value to their project/organisation
  • Previous Awardees must have spent their full grant before any further applications can be considered

How do we apply?

The deadline has passed for applications to this Fund. 

What happens next?

A team of experts will review the applications. Projects which are shortlisted will be invited to an interview to give more information about their project. Project leaders will be invited to interviews, which will take place the week starting 23 March 2020. The judges may do further checks or site visits. The awardees will be notified in June 2020. The Awards Ceremony and announcement will take place in July 2020.

What happens if our project is successful?

We will invite your project leader to take part in an Accelerator Programme which runs from July 2020 to June 2023. This programme will include:

  • mentoring
  • measuring the impact of the project
  • communications training
  • access to Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s expertise and networks

We will expect your project leader to devote at least two days a month to the programme.

Frequently asked questions

How do I upload a video link to my application?

Click here to watch our short guide to uploading video.

Want to learn more about our Ability to Work Fund? View our webinar!

What should we include in the video?

Look at this sample video for ideas. The video should be 2-3 minutes and should tell us who you are, why you are applying for the grant, the problem you are trying to solve and how your solution is innovative.

Can you explain what you mean by outputs (model, impact, testing etcetera)?

Click here to see our handy one-page glossary of terms, and click here to see examples of how those terms can be applied.

What can we spend the grant on?

You may only spend the grant on the project which won the award. The specific use of the grant will be agreed between you and Social Innovation Fund Ireland. Please note: you cannot use the grant to pay off debts or buy land, buildings or equipment (capital expenses).

Who will decide who wins the awards?

The final decision will be made by the Board of Social Innovation Fund Ireland.

What is the selection process?

  • Stage 1: Open call for applications (11 November 2019 to 14 February 2020)
  • Stage 2: Selection process (February to March 2020)
  • Stage 3: Interviews (week starting 23 March 2020)
  • Stage 4: Final checks on short-listed applicants (April to May 2020)

How can we find out where we are in the selection process?

We will inform applicants by telephone or email.

Interviews and feedback

  • If you are invited to the next round of the application process, you will be asked to attend an interview which must be attended by a project representative (ideally the project leader).
  • If selected for interview, we will share the information you have provided with the judges.
  • The SIFI Board of Directors will choose the winning applications and decide the awards based on the recommendations from the panel of judges. The Directors’ decision will be final.
  • The SIFI Fund Manager may offer general verbal feedback to unsuccessful applicants who have reached the interview stage.

Publicity

  • The awardees must take part in publicity about the grant. SIFI reserves the right to publish the names of organisations that are successful in their applications.

Terms and conditions of the Ability to Work Fund

By applying for the Ability to Work Fund, you agree with the following: 

  • You are 18 years of age or older.
  • You have given full and truthful information, both verbal and written, at all stages of the application and selection process.
  • You are eligible to apply. This means that your organisation meets the criteria for the Social Innovation Fund Ireland and the Ability to Work Fund, as described earlier.
  • You have the right to apply. This means that you hold the necessary rights to carry out the project.
  • By sending in your application, you accept these terms and conditions and our Privacy Statement. If you do not comply with these terms and conditions, you may be disqualified and may have to return any award granted.
  • SIFI will hold the personal details which you submitted with your application form. We will only share this information with the third parties administering the application and selection process, unless we agree otherwise with you. Please see our Privacy Statement for full details.
  • If you decline an award or if the award is taken back because you did not comply with the terms and conditions, the Directors may select an alternative awardee.
  • SIFI reserves the right to disqualify any entrant, to change the terms and conditions without notice, or to cancel the application process at any stage.