€5 million Announced For Social innovation Non-Profits Acting In Response To The Covid 19 Crisis


13th May 2020:  Social Innovation Fund Ireland, in partnership with the Department of Rural and Community Development, today launched the  Innovate Together Fund. This new fund, which starts as a €5 Million Fund, will focus on supporting emerging innovations that address the current and long-term social, economic and environmental challenges.

The Innovate Together Fund is supported by a commitment of €5 million from the Department of Rural and Community Development through the support of the Dormant Accounts Fund. 

Social Innovation Fund Ireland pledges to raise additional significant philanthropic funds and is calling on companies, foundations, families and individuals to donate to this initiative. 

Medtronic Foundation — a charitable foundation, funded solely by medical technology company Medtronic, dedicated to improving health among underserved populations and supporting communities worldwide, has set an example for the philanthropic community through a €70,000 donation. 

Minister Seán Canney TD, Minister of State at the Department of Rural & Community Development said; “I’m delighted to launch the Innovate Together Fund in partnership with Social Innovation Fund Ireland to help organisations across the country who contribute so much to our society. 

The Government has pledged to provide €5 million via the Dormant Accounts Fund so that as many organisations as possible can get the help they need to help to continue to support those affected most by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We know this pandemic is disproportionately affecting underserved populations around the world, including in Ireland where Medtronic is headquartered”,” said Paurvi Bhatt, President of the Medtronic Foundation. “We are proud to support the Innovate Together Fund to help fund local organizations delivering critical services to those in need.”

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: “I believe that social innovation holds the key to addressing emerging social and economic needs in a sustainable manner and will be essential to creating an inclusive, and sustainable recovery in a post-Covid-19 world.

With the launch of this new fund, we are looking to support innovative community-based organisations across the country who are coming up with impactful solutions to the problems posed by the Covid-19 pandemic that will become the ‘new normal.’’

Terence O’Rourke, Chairman Social Innovation Fund Ireland and Enterprise Ireland added: “Just as we need to invest in innovation for our economic recovery and for job creation, we must invest in social innovation to address critical social issues. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Medtronic for their leadership in donating to this fund’’

“We now call on the business community to come together and back the unprecedented response of the charity sector to this crisis. Whether big or small, multinational or indigenous, we are asking you to donate to this initiative and to build on the Government commitment of €5 million. Now is our chance to collaborate and invest in the social innovations contributing to a recovery that can and must be inclusive, equal and sustainable.’’

The Innovate Together Fund will seek applications from projects countrywide achieving impact in: 

  • Enabling online education: providing primary and post-primary school students with access to technology and other supports such as study spaces in the home, and mentoring for parents, students and teachers  
  • Youth mental health interventions: delivering services in new ways or offering new types of services (intervention and prevention).
  • Circular Economy: solutions for the efficient re-use and recycling of materials.
  • Improving food security: increasing independent food production for Ireland and ways to reduce food imports.
  • New ways of working remotely: our new ways of working are here to stay and innovators are needed to smooth the transition from office to working at home.
  • Community outreach: finding new ways to reach and support vulnerable and marginalised groups. 
  • Re-skilling our workforce: with the shift in our economy and the potential closure of businesses, there is a need for re-training and re-education of workers.. 
  • Physical Health: Online medical and physical health innovations.

The Innovate Together Fund is open for applications now and you can learn more at http://www.socialinnovation.ie/innovate-together/ 

Social Innovation Fund Ireland welcomes €40 million support package for charity sector

Ministers Ring and Canney launch €40 million COVID-19 support package for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises

Funding will help alleviate funding challenges faced by organisations most in need

Mr Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development and Mr Seán Canney TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development, have today (Friday, 8 May) announced the launch of a €40 million package of supports for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises.

A large number of these organisations are providing critical services to vulnerable individuals and groups in society arising from the COVID-19 crisis. Many of these organisations now find themselves in financial difficulty as fundraising efforts, commercial activities and other services they rely on have been curtailed due to the ongoing crisis.

The €40 million funding package is being made available through the Dormant Accounts Fund, which is specifically set aside to support initiatives which will benefit the most disadvantaged groups in society. 

The package consists of:

  • A €35 million ‘COVID-19 Stability Fund’ which will provide a level of support to qualifying organisations who are most in need and have seen their trading and/or fundraising income drop significantly during the crisis; and
  • A €5m Government commitment to a Philanthropy Fund, (Innovate Together) which will focus on supporting responses to the COVID-19 crisis that require innovative and adaptive solutions to existing and emerging challenges.

Speaking about the funding package unveiled today, Minister Ring said:

“I am acutely aware of the impact of the current restrictions on the funding of charities, social enterprises and community and voluntary organisations and on the services they deliver to those most in need. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their contribution to the inspiring community response to the current crisis.  

“This significant funding package for the sector will help to assist these key organisations to weather the crisis and allow them to maintain their valuable services”.

The Minister continued:

“Today’s announcement shows that Government has heard the concerns of the sector and, despite the significant financial constraints we now face, we have worked creatively to deliver this significant response. The Stability Fund will be administered by Pobal in conjunction with my Department.  However, it should be said that while the funding provided will be very welcome, Minister Canney and I recognise that significant challenges remain for community and voluntary groups and charities during this time.  Government Departments and Agencies will continue to work closely with the sector in managing through these challenges over the coming months.”

The Minister concluded:

“Community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises have played a very significant role in supporting vulnerable people in our communities over recent weeks, particularly in the context of the Government Community Call.  I would like to commend them on that work, which I know is continuing.” 

This new funding is being provided in addition to the more than €45 million in funding, announced last November, for the Dormant Accounts Action Plan 2020. That funding was allocated for 43 separate measures to be delivered across 9 Government Departments to benefit disadvantaged groups.

On foot of the unveiling of today’s funding package, Minister Canney stated:

“When the Dormant Accounts Fund was established, provision was made for supporting the most disadvantaged in our society with any available funds. This package being put in place today achieves exactly that, making sure that these funds are being put to the best possible use at a time of real need for many in society.”

Minister Canney continued:

“I wish to put on record my thanks to Social Innovation Fund Ireland, which will be administering the Innovate Together, Philanthropy Fund. By joining forces with the philanthropic community, not only will we leverage donations for this important initiative but we can also tap into the innovative experience and expertise which already exists in this sector.

“The new funding package announced today will ensure that the organisations assisting our most vulnerable groups can continue this important work so that people can get the help and support that they need during these most challenging of times.”

The funding package for these organisations is complementary to the range of other supports provided by the Government to support businesses, employers and employees on foot of the crisis.

Full details of the Philanthropy fund can be found here.

Full details of the Stability fund can be found here.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update

13th March 2020

 In line with guidance from Government announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday, we have informed our staff that we will work remotely from today, Friday 13th March until Tuesday 31st March 2020. 

We already have remote working facilities in place and we are confident there will be minimum disruption to our operations and services. Our staff will be available to work with you as normal by email, video call and phone. 

As part of our response to the situation, and to do our part to limit the spread of the virus, we have made the decision to postpone all Accelerators and events until after Friday 17th April. Wherever possible meetings will be conducted by phone or video call. Interviews for our Ability to Work Fund from Tuesday 24th – Friday 27th March will take place via video call.

We recognise these are unprecedented times for everyone, and we hope that you all are keeping safe, calm, and positive. We encourage our Awardees to reach out to us at any time with any concerns or issues you may have. We will do our best to support you. 

We will keep this situation under review.

Celebrating International Women’s Day – Equal Ireland

We have participated in International Women’s Day Celebrations since the mid-1970s, through our membership of the Workers Union of Ireland, which later became SIPTU. Our role models and old friends were feminists such as Shiela Conroy, Inez McCormack, Sylvia Meehan, Joan Carmichael, Patricia O’Donovan, Noirin Greene and Padraigin Ni Mhuruchú, to name but a few. We went on to create EQUAL Ireland, an organisation dedicated to equality and are now Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund Awardees. We are delighted to be working with this innovative organisation. 

The Equality Emerging Statue by John Behan from a concept developed by Nuala Keher and Eddie Higgins on behalf of EQUAL Ireland.


In 2001 we commissioned John Behan to design the ‘Equality Emerging’ statue in Galway. This was our effort to mark the continuing struggle for equality. We unveiled it on International Women’s Day 2001. 

It is the only statue in Ireland specifically dedicated to people involved in the equality struggle and to those suffering because of its absence. It is located in the Equality Park, Galway City, near the Salmon Bridge. When next in Galway do please visit

The statue depicts a woman emerging through a wall, with the wall representing all of those forces opposed to equality. The reason that the woman is only partially emerged is intended to highlight the fact that while much has been achieved there is still yet more to be accomplished!

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “EachforEqual”. It emphasises the difference people can make to ensure that women’s achievements are highlighted and celebrated. 

As part of that process and on this International Women’s Day we asked our participants to reflect and comment on the difference that EQUAL Ireland and Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund are making for rural women in Ireland? Here are some of their responses. 

Women Role Models

I am the daughter of Mary Neenan, who is an avid supporter of EQUAL Ireland and is my inspiration. You allowed my mom the opportunity to re-educate herself at the age of fifty-six. A prospect I’m sure she thought was well out of reach due to her finishing school at age sixteen, with sparse ambition and passing grades. – Aine Neenan

Everyone Deserves a Second Chance

My time with EQUAL Ireland has been so much more than a second chance at 3rd Level Education. It has heralded the beginning of my personal self-development and has opened so many doors which were previously inaccessible. One special event for me was an EQUAL Ireland meeting organised with the Cuban Ambassador (See Photo) which I thoroughly enjoyed. But back to my studies, I began the Essential Skills Certificate with the same hopes and fears as all of my other colleagues, but we grew and gained a solid foundation to continue with the Higher Certificate. Now, in my final B.A. Year, I am equipped with new skills for future employment, a new approach to problem-solving and have made wonderful friends in the course of this journey. – Emily Burke

More than a Mother

Because of this EQUAL Ireland Programme, and the wonderful women I have met along the way, I feel empowered and confident about the future. I feel more than a mother, and I feel it’s important for my children to see me striving for more. – Jenni Owen-Thomas

Designed for Women

In the middle of year two of the programme I had a major operation and still managed to complete the year with good grades. This is because the course is designed for women with a busy family life without compromising on the quality of the studies. I felt really touched when, after my surgery, I got a call from EQUAL Ireland who wished me a speedy recovery and reassured me that I could continue my studies. – Diana Llie, Poland

….as a Very Mature Woman Student!

Some time back I became aware of EQUAL Ireland and the opportunity they offered, to gain a 3rd level qualification.  I joined the programme as a very mature woman student!  I recently gained employment in a national organisation and I know my success was due to demonstrating my ability to learn and adapt in my work and learning history.  The EQUAL Ireland Programme was almost completed at the time and the knowledge gained through the various modules, empowered me to go forward with confidence. As a Mum of 5 children I absolutely know the commitment women make to family and extended family.  However, we have hopes and dreams too. I can only hope that my story may inspire and encourage others to connect with Equal Ireland and see that it is possible to achieve if we consciously choose to step forward and ask “Why not”? – Bernie Costelloe

The Opportunity to Focus on Something that is for Myself!

This EQUAL Ireland Programme has changed my outlook on life and I am now more logical and analytical. I have developed the patience to sit for long periods of time and undertake the necessary study and research that the programme demands.  This is something that I never would have allocated time for in my previous life of rushing and caring for others. EQUAL Ireland has afforded me the opportunity to focus on something that is for myself and that challenges me in a way that I never thought possible. I have really enjoyed the journey. – Ann McNulty

It’s Early Days Yet!

I am so grateful that EQUAL Ireland are providing this Programme in West Cork.  I work fulltime and this would be the only way I could progress in my learning to help to improve my own local town, Bantry, Co. Cork. I know it’s early days on the programme, but already I have gained so many insights and ideas from the wonderful lecturers that enable this course to take place. I already know that this programme will benefit not only me, but also my home town of Bantry. – Deirdre Fitzgerald

With Confidence and much Humility

I have been given the tools to fulfil my potential, as this course has improved my knowledge and skills, and now a new chapter awaits this woman with her briefcase of lovely hard earned goods. The door has been pushed open and I will proceed through it with confidence and much humility. As I realise that much more has to be done, mountains to be climbed and rivers to be crossed. As good old Confucius once said; “By three methods we may learn wisdom: first by reflection, which is the noblest, second by imitation, which is the easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. (Confucius, 2017)- Ann Murphy

Opening My Eyes

I live in a rural Ireland. With EQUAL Ireland I can study around my caring responsibilities and I can even study in the car, which I often do but not while driving. The RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) allowed me to put a concrete value on the work I do every day as a carer. It is opening my eyes for career paths and opportunities.  –Ruth Whelan  

We will be formally launching our new programmes in May 2020 supported by Social Innovation Fund Ireland, Bank of America and the Department of Rural & Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund through the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund. These will include

  • BA in Business, Social Enterprise and Community Development,
  • Train the Trainer
  • Mentoring and Facilitation Skills for Recognition of Prior Learning 

Visit www.equalireland.ie to learn more. 

Celebrating International Women’s Day – Angela Smith, CEO of Dress for Success Dublin

Celebrating International Women’s Day
Angela Smith, CEO of Dress for Success Dublin

This year marks the seventh of our annual International Women’s Day campaigns. These campaigns, like Dress for Success Dublin as a whole,  have grown hugely in those years! 

As an organisation supporting women across Ireland to (re)enter the workforce, supporting their economic independence and campaigning at all levels of business and politics for women’s equality in the workplace, International Women’s Day has always been an important date in our calendar.

Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Award

This International Women’s Day feels particularly special. Last year saw a number of significant developments and achievements for our charity, not least winning one of six Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Awards. The support thus far from Social Innovation Fund Ireland has already proved to have a huge impact on our ability to provide our services to a growing number of women across the country. In 2019, we marked a significant milestone, supporting more women than any year previously and bringing our total number of clients supported to 3,000. 

That’s 3,000 women suited and coached for interviews and careers, mentored and provided with the confidence they require to succeed. 

The support that keeps us going

So, in light of that, we’re marking International Women’s Day by celebrating our clients, the women in our organisation and the women (and men!) across the organisations who support us. Each year sees an ever-greater number of companies and groups choosing to run clothing drives, fundraisers and awareness-raising events in support of our work for International Women’s Day. 

The funds and clothing donated through the campaign support our vital work right through the year. So, to those organisations, as well as to to the women in Dress for Success and to Social Innovation Fund Ireland– thank you! Thank you for your role in helping us to support women around the country to discover and reach their potential.”

Dress for Success Dublin was founded by Sonya Lennon in 2011. Based on an international model, their founding principle in Ireland was to promote the economic independence of women, by delivering a pincer movement: supporting individual women to enter the workforce with confidence, while initiating a national discussion on barriers to economic equality for women. The services on offer include their suiting service, work wardrobe, career advice service and their developmental programmes including mentoring, returnships and financial education. Since opening their doors, they have reached 2700 individual women. 

Dress for Success Dublin is one of six Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund Awardees.

The Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund is a €1.8 Million Fund over three years created by Social Innovation Fund Ireland in partnership with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development. The Department of Rural and Community Development provides match funding for all philanthropic funds raised by Social Innovation Fund Ireland, via the Dormant Accounts Fund.

The Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund is the first fund in Ireland to support charities and social enterprises that seek to enhance the economic mobility of women and is designed specifically to equip these organisations to expand their business acumen, drive growth and deepen their impact across Ireland. Over the next three years, the Fund aims to empower 1,000 women to secure employment, enhancing the economic mobility of women across Ireland.

Visit www.socialinnovation.ie/mna-na-heireann-women-of-ireland-fund/ for more information on the fund and each Awardee. 

Ireland’s Youth Sector gets €9.5 Million boost from Social Innovation Fund Ireland

The 2019 Children and Youth Funds will support 14 projects in Education and Mental Health addressing the most prevalent issues facing young people in Ireland today.

19th February 2020: Social Innovation Fund Ireland, today announced the Awardees of their 2019 Children and Youth Funds at a special awards ceremony in Trinity Business School, Dublin. Worth €9.5 million, the Fund is made up of 50% private philanthropic funding, self-raised by 14 Awardees. The other half is supported by the Government of Ireland, through the Dormant Accounts Fund.

The 2019 Children and Youth Funds, which includes the Children and Youth Education Fund and the Children and Youth Mental Health Fund, were designed to support projects addressing the most prevalent issues facing young people and children in Ireland today.

Lynn Ruane, Independent Senator said: ‘Like Social Innovation Fund Ireland, I believe that talent is equally distributed across the population, but getting access to quality education, and the social and mental health supports needed to enable equal access and equal opportunity for young people right across Ireland can be a postcode lottery. These projects will make a huge contribution to addressing this, and I look forward to keeping track of them as they develop.’

The Awardees each receive a multi-year grant and will also be awarded a place on Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s ‘Game-Changer’ Programme which includes training, capacity building and participation in a three year academic evaluation. Proving and improving their impact, these projects have strong potential to be replicated across Ireland
with a view to creating real systemic change in the communities they are supporting.

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: “At Social Innovation Fund Ireland, we believe that good mental health and succeeding in education are a virtuous circle – they drive each other. We all know that good mental health enables us to learn, and succeeding at learning improves our mental health. Today’s Awardees have developed innovations that support children and young people to make the most of the opportunities they have, and increase opportunities for marginalised young people. We want to support them to scale and spread to other communities that need them. The Children and Youth Funds will also contribute to Ireland’s achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals which is a powerful global initiative set out by the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda.”

First Fortnight, a creative arts programme which aims to create an open discussion and understanding of mental health problems through the arts, was one of the Awardees announced on the day. This Fund will support the
programme to set up a new service targeting children experiencing homelessness and will also increase the services they’re able to provide by adding three therapists to their team.

Other Awardees include Technological University Dublin’s Access to Apprenticeships programme, which addresses high youth unemployment in disadvantaged communities by preparing and progressing young women and men from these communities into craft apprenticeships. Bobby Maher, Access to Apprenticeship Programme Manager, Technological University Dublin, said: ‘To be announced as one of the Children and Youth Education Fund Awardees today is a fantastic endorsement of all the work that has gone into developing the Access to Apprenticeship programme to date. We have big plans for the future of this programme, we can see the positive impact it is making in the lives of young people, and it’s wonderful to have Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s support to help us realise our ambitions and vision going forward.’

Launch of new €200,000 Sustainable Cork Fund

Today Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) in partnership with Cork Chamber of Commerce proudly launched the Sustainable Cork Fund. The fund of €200,000 is the outcome of a Cork Chamber funding drive to raise €100,000 through the support of the Cork business community, with match funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development Dormant Accounts Fund. 

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland added, “We are delighted to partner with Cork Chamber and the Department of Rural and Community Development on our Sustainable Cork Fund. With this Fund, we aim to lay strong foundations for future generations by supporting innovative social enterprises that are meaningfully engaged in improving the environmental, social and/or economic outcomes for people in the Cork city or county regions.  We welcome applications until Friday, April 3rd, 2020.” 

Paula Cogan, President of Cork Chamber, speaking at the launch, “As a Chamber we have a platform that unites, driving strong collaborations, and positive action, bringing the business community together. Here we have the perfect example of what a strong business community can achieve. Initiated as a call to action across the business community as part of the Chamber 200 celebrations in 2019, the Sustainable Cork Fund will be transformational, empowering new projects, and breathing fresh momentum into initiatives that strengthen Cork’s social, environmental or economic sustainability and resilience.”

Ms Cogan added, “Cork is growing. We have a city region that is home to innovative companies, entrepreneurs taking their ideas to the next level, all creating the value that drives our economy. A strong economy is crucial, as are vibrant communities, and a quality of life that works for its citizens, and we are proud to have initiated and driven this fund with SIFI, with the support of the Cork business community. The Sustainable Cork Fund will support projects with an impact in Climate Action and Environmental Awareness, Community Inclusion and Cohesion, and Sustainable Employment and Economic Development.”

In concluding, Ms. Cogan, Cork Chamber President added, “Without a doubt, we’re in a very exciting phase of Cork’s history and as a Chamber our vision is that of a sustainable city region, one that is fit for today and built for the future. In launching the Sustainable Cork Fund we are acknowledging the depth of potential we have here in Cork. As a Chamber, we are here for the long run, and we want Cork to thrive in a way that works for Cork, for Cork communities, environment and economy. We are very excited to see how this Fund will play its part in shaping Cork.”

Pádraic Vallely, Business Development Manager, Social Innovation Fund Ireland commented at the launch, “We are delighted to run our first regional Fund with Cork Chamber. It’s important to appreciate the leadership of Cork Chamber, their executives and members by working together to set up this exciting Fund, which will have sustainability at its core. Our aim is to make Cork a leader in the development and active participation in the delivery of the UN SDG’s.”

The Sustainable Cork Fund invites applications from not-for-profit organisations, and social enterprises, with the application deadline on April 3rd. Applications via http://www.socialinnovation.ie/sustainable-cork-fund


Ireland’s social enterprise sector receives significant funding boost

  • New €1.6 million Fund for social enterprises in Ireland announced at Showcase Event
  • The Fund, which originally launched in 2018, now totals €3.2 million, making it the largest private investment in social enterprise to date
  • The Fund aims to create 300 jobs and provide services to 100,000 people over four years
  • The Fund is being delivered by Social Innovation Fund Ireland and Local Authorities Ireland 

16th January 2020:  Today Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development Seán Canney TD welcomed the launch of a new €1.6 million Fund 2020-2021 for social enterprises in Ireland. This commitment is on top of the previous €1.6 million investment 2018-2019, creating a €3.2m investment in total, the most significant private investment in social enterprises to date. 

The Fund was created by Social Innovation Fund Ireland with Local Authorities Ireland and is supported by IPB Insurance and the Department of Rural and Community Development from the Dormant Accounts Fund.

The news came as the impact of the 2019 Social Enterprise Development Fund Awardees was celebrated at a showcase event in Royal College of Physicians on Thursday. Throughout the last two years, the Social Enterprise Development Fund Awardees have generated huge impact by providing services in sectors such as health, employment and the environment, creating 142 jobs, engaging with 274 volunteers and providing services to 35,100 people. 

These include Siel Bleu, Darndale Belcamp Village Centre and Bounce Back Recycling. 

Siel Bleu Ireland offers older adults and people living with chronic disease and physical and intellectual disabilities the opportunity to counteract physical inactivity through specially designed, professional exercise programmes. Today they work with 6,000 people a week in 20 counties.

Darndale Belcamp Village Center provides a range of services to the local community including childcare, care of the elderly, training, family supports, employment and educational opportunities, cultural, healthcare and retail outlets. On a daily basis the Village Centre provides employment, training and education for 390 people, has a 70% progression rate from community employment, significant achievements in an area with extremely high levels of unemployment and educational disadvantage. Darndale Belcamp Village Center is one of the 5 Awardees to receive further funding from the Final Pitch Fund.

Bounce Back Recycling provides a mattress recycling service in the Connaught/Ulster waste region. Over the last three years they have diverted 25,000 mattresses away from landfill. This has contributed to a greener and more inclusive economy by employing members of the Traveller community. Bounce Back Recycling also received funding following the final pitches which they will use to open their second depot in Sligo.

Details of other Awardees and their impact can be seen here. 

Minister of State for Community Development Natural Resources and Digital Development Seán Canney, T.D said “I’d like to congratulate Social Innovation Fund Ireland and IPB Insurance on the launch the new Social Enterprise Development Fund 2020-2021. I believe that social enterprises can play an important role in addressing social needs, building communities and creating jobs. To that end, I am really pleased to see IPB Insurance take a leadership role in supporting this Fund and to see the Local Authorities of Ireland collaborating with Social Innovation Fund Ireland to provide critical business supports to social enterprises locally to enable them to scale and deepen their impact across Ireland.’’

“This €3.2 million initiative also realises the work being done by the Government to develop the social enterprise sector through the National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019-2022.’’

The new Fund will be delivered over the course of two years and up to 16 successful applicants will each receive a grant of between €10,000 and €50,000 to invest in growing their organisation. In addition to the cash grant, the successful applicants will also receive a place on Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s six-month Accelerator programme. The programme is designed to help social enterprises develop their business skills and to provide them with ongoing peer support and advice so that they develop sustainable enterprises that have a powerful impact in their community.

George Jones, Chairman of IPB Insurance said: “We’ve seen many inspiring social enterprises from across the country really flourish with the support of the Social Enterprise Development Fund and we are delighted to continue to support these enterprises through our partnership with Social Innovation Fund Ireland and each and every one of the Local Authorities of Ireland. We are very pleased that we have supported 33 Awardees from 16 counties (or from cities, towns, villages and rural communities across Ireland) to date and we are thrilled to see their achievements and the change they are making in their local communities and beyond.’’

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: “We would like to thank IPB Insurance for their support to date and in pioneering a Fund which will create a lasting impact and truly add value to our society. We look forward to our continued partnership with IPB Insurance, the Department of Rural and Community Development, and Local Authorities Ireland to create 300 jobs, and provide services to 100,000 people across the length and breadth of Ireland.’’

Carla Piera FitzGerald, Brand and Communications Manager, Siel Bleu Ireland said: “The funding and support from Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s Social Enterprise Development Fund have allowed us to take our work to the next level. It has helped us overcome some big challenges as we plan to extend our services in the coming years. The Accelerator Programme is a great opportunity for any social enterprises that are thinking of applying in 2020’’.

The 2020 Fund is open for applications from 16th January until the 6th of March 2019.

Christmas Thank You Event

Social Innovation Fund Thank You event which took place on the 3rd of December in the wonderful Wilder Townhouse, with our Board, our supporters our Innovator Circle members and some of our inspirational Awardees. Kindly supported by the Wilder Townhouse.
Photos by NC Photography.


New €1.5 million Ability to Work Fund aims to reach 500 people with disabilities across Ireland

Social Innovation Fund Ireland and State Street join forces to empower more people with a disability to gain employment 

November 11th, 2019: Employers across Ireland were urged to “see ability not disability” and to create more opportunities in the workplace for people with visible and invisible disabilities at the launch of a new partnership between Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) and State Street.

The partnership will see the creation of the Ability to Work Fund which will provide €1.5 million funding over 3 years to organisations working to empower more people with a disability to gain employment. The Ability to Work Fund is also supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development through the Dormant Accounts Fund. 

SIFI and State Street hope that during the three years of the initiative, the fund will aim to reach 500 educationally-disadvantaged students across the country and empower 250 people to progress along pathways to employment. A disability might be a visible, physical or intellectual disability or it might be an invisible one such as a learning disability, traumatic brain injury or mental health condition. 

Launching the Ability to Work Fund, Regina Doherty T.D., Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection said, “The National Disability Inclusion Strategy contains a comprehensive employment strategy for people with disabilities, many of whom want to work but are faced with barriers and challenges – some of which are personal, but more of which are societal and demand a concerted effort by Government, Employers and Civic society to break them down.  The Ability to Work Fund is an important initiative which will help provide bridges and supports into work for people living with a disability and I congratulate Social Innovation Fund Ireland and State Street for their vision in its establishment”.

Minister Doherty added that “within the public sector we are looking to double the number of people with a disability employed by 2024 and we are looking at alternative recruitment channels for people with disabilities”.  

Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Canney TD said “The Ability to Work Fund  is yet another example of the Dormant Accounts Fund being put to good use and of partnership between Government and the private sector, in this case State Street, to assist potential employers and people with disabilities break down barriers to an inclusive and more diverse workforce.”

Tadhg Young, Ireland Country Head at State Street said:  “Embracing diversity is the right thing to do, but it means little without a strong commitment to inclusion. At State Street we have long believed in the power of inclusion in the workforce and have a broad suite of initiatives in place to recognise and acknowledge what makes people unique, but to also ensure we include all employees at all levels of the organization.

“We are proud to partner with SIFI on the launch of the Ability to Work Fund to help move economically disadvantaged populations forward and promote equality of opportunity in education and sustainable employment for everyone in society. By focusing on organisations that specially support those with visible or invisible disabilities, through training, upskilling, education and other services, Ability to Work will support and empower people with disabilities to progress into employment.” 

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said:  “We know from the last census that nearly 10% of people living in Ireland identified as living with a disability.  We also know that people with disabilities are half as likely to be in employment as others of working age. That is creating significant inequality in our society.  At SIFI we believe in the power of social innovation to deliver solutions to this challenge. The Ability to Work Fund will help create pathways to employment where people with disabilities can achieve economic independence, contribute to their communities and experience personal fulfilment.  

“It is encouraging that more and more employers are recognising the contribution people living with a disability can make to their organisation and are actively seeking to create employment for this group.  Through the Ability to Work Fund we hope to give more people with a disability the confidence to pursue employment and to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind in the current era of near full employment.”

The Ability to Work Fund is now open for applications until February 2020Successful applicants will receive cash grants as well as a place on an Accelerator Programme which includes bespoke training from best-in-class experts across the private, non-profit and public sector. The Fund is designed specifically to equip charities and social enterprises to expand their business acumen, drive growth and deepen their impact across Ireland.  SIFI and State Street believe that this Fund can also contribute to global change and Awardees’ impact will be measured against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.