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.   

Empowering 1,000 marginalised women into sustained and secure employment

On October 3rd 2019 Social Innovation Fund Ireland, in partnership with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development announced the six successful Awardee recipients of the inaugural Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund. The announcement was made by Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Canney TD at a special event held in Smock Alley in Dublin. The €1.8 million Fund is the first of its kind in Ireland to support charitable and social enterprise organisations that seek to enhance the economic mobility of women, by investing in organisations that provide training, upskilling, work experience, education and other services directly to disadvantaged women.

The six inspiring Awardees, which include projects that support single-parent women, refugees
and transgender women were chosen from over 70 applications. Each submission went through a
rigorous application and interview process to ensure they met the criteria and high standards set
out for the Fund and its Awardees.

The six successful Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund Awardees are:

• Women’s Education Programme (An Cosán VVC): 
Women’s Education Programme offers -women marginalised from the workforce, a
flexible part-time education through a blended learning model of online lectures and in-
person workshops.

• Dress for Success Dublin
Dress for Success Dublin gives individuals ongoing access to skilled recruitment
professionals and educational programmes to equip them with the skills and confidence
to partake in the economic opportunities available to them.

• Here Comes the Girls (Westmeath Community Development)
Here Comes the Girls works by pre-empting potential skills demands of local employers
and offering employers bespoke training and recruitment opportunities to meet their
staffing needs, while also equipping local women with the skills required to perform these
jobs and enter employment.

• Integration from Day One (Irish Refugee Council)
Integration from Day One supports refugee women in Ireland from the earliest stages of
the asylum process to build opportunities and skills to successfully integrate and find their
place in the labour market.

• Amplifying Rural Women’s Voices (EQUAL Ireland)
Amplifying Rural Women’s Voices provides blended learning to women living in rural
areas, combining workshops, a co-operative learning environment, online and outreach
delivery, in partnership with communities.

• Super Women (Transgender Equality Network Ireland)
Super Women addresses the inequality and inaccessibility of the labour market for
transgender women.

In addition to grant funding, the six successful Awardees will also receive a place on an
Accelerator Programme, which includes bespoke training and mentoring by experts from across
the private, non-profit and public sector. Dublin based employees of Bank of America will be part of the mentoring team and they will also provide further tailored training to the successful
organisations. The Accelerator Programme is specifically designed to equip charities and social
enterprises with the skills to expand their business knowledge, drive growth and strengthen their
impact across Ireland. 


Announcing the winners, Minister of State, Seán Canney, TD, said, “I’m delighted to join Social Innovation Fund Ireland and Bank of America in announcing the six Awardees for the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund. The Department of Rural and Community Development is also very proud to be a partner of this fantastic initiative which is co-funded through the Dormant Accounts Funds. I want to wish them all the very best for their future endeavours and I look forward to seeing the even greater things they will achieve with the support of Social Innovation Fund Ireland and Bank of America.”

Anne Finucane, Chairman, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Europe and Vice Chairman,
Bank of America, said: “We are delighted to be part of this new Fund and look forward to
working with the Awardees to support 1,000 women of Ireland into employment over the next
three years. Today, women make up more than half of our global workforce and we are steadfast
in bringing forward conversations about gender, race and social equality to the business. We
work to effect meaningful, lasting positive change to the communities in which we operate and
serve and are incredibly proud to be part of this initiative.”


Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: “We are thrilled to announce a
wonderfully diverse range of Awardees supporting women who are often found to be furthest from the labour market – Trans women, refugees, lone parents, women in rural areas and more. This €1.8 Million Fund will support these organisations to scale and deepen their impact across the country. Our goal is not only to empower these women into sustained employment, but to enable them to fulfil their potential and lead more secure, successful lives.

Nuala Keher, Joint Executive Director for EQUAL Ireland said, “We’re over the moon to be an awardee of this fantastic fund. This announcement means that EQUAL Ireland will reach a critical mass that should result in real positive change, not only for EQUAL Ireland, as an organisation, but perhaps more importantly, for the development and increased participation of hundreds of women in leadership roles in Ireland’s communities, as we say ‘Amplifying Rural Women’s Voices’.

Sparking Impact across Ireland at the National Ploughing Championships

Six Awardees of the €550,000 Ignite Fund were officially announced at the National Ploughing Championships.

17th September 2019: Social Innovation Fund Ireland, in partnership with the Department of
Rural and Community Development and a number of private philanthropic donors, are today delighted to announce the six Awardees of the €550,000 Ignite Fund. At a special event at the 2019 National Ploughing Championships, the six inspiring projects were officially announced by Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development,
Seán Canney, also in attendance.

The Ignite Fund is a €550,000 fund created by Social Innovation Fund Ireland in partnership with several private philanthropists 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 from the Dormant Accounts Fund. The Awardees are spread across four separate categories under the themes of ‘Empowering Families’, ‘Youth Resilience’, ‘Harnessing Ability’ and ‘Music to Impact’.

‘Empowering Families’ Awardees

● Community & Family Services (Northside Family Resource Centre Co. Limerick)
Northside FRC’s Community & Family Services works with children and their parents to reduce the impact of trauma, often compounded by external factors like poverty. The work will be greatly enhanced by the Ignite Fund through the recruitment of a Theraplay Therapist who will support parents to take control of their own parenting, reducing dependency on agencies and becoming their child’s ‘therapist’.

● TLC Kidz (Barnardos Dublin)
Barnardos supports children whose well-being is under threat, by working with them, their families and their communities. TLC Kidz is a 12-week group evidence-informed programme for children and mothers in recovery from domestic abuse, delivered by Barnardos.

Youth Resilience Awardee
Supported by Ralph & Maureen Parkes and W2 Foundation

● The Shona Project: Online Community, Co Waterford
The Shona Project aims to educate, empower and inspire today’s Irish girls to become tomorrow’s strong, confident and curious young women. To complement their school’s programmes, they will build an online, interactive platform that provides girls with information, advice and a sense of community.

Harnessing Ability Awardee
Supported by Ralph & Maureen Parkes and W2 Foundation

● Step Ahead (Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, Dublin/Cork)
The Step Ahead Project is a free of charge vocational assessment service that addresses the challenge of returning to paid employment or training for brain injury survivors.

Music to Impact Awardees

● Le Chéile (Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin)
Le Chéile is led by the Royal Irish Academy of Music in partnership with Ulster University. The project develops music ensembles for young people with disabilities using Assistive Music Technology.

St. Agnes’ Community Centre for Music and the Arts, Dublin
St Agnes’ Community Centre for Music and the Arts (CCMA) is an intergenerational centre that is embedded in the Crumlin community and offers affordable access to high- quality arts Programmes. It is an intergenerational, grassroots project that aims to bring all members of the community together to enjoy affordable music classes and other music and arts activities.


Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Canney TD said ‘’It makes me very proud that my Department, through the Dormant Accounts Funds, supports Social Innovation Fund Ireland in the great work they do. I am delighted to be here today to announce the six Awardees of their Ignite Fund. The initiatives each of these projects are developing are truly amazing and it’s wonderful to see them receive the recognition at today’s ceremony.”

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: “Today’s Awardees come from a wide range of backgrounds and sectors in Irish society but they all have one thing in common, they’re creating meaningful social impact in communities right across the country. From supporting children and mothers recovering from domestic abuse to creating music ensembles for young people with disabilities, each of our Awardees are already carrying out incredibly important work. With the support of the Ignite Fund, we intend to help them achieve even greater things in the months and years ahead. I’d also like to thank our philanthropic donors for all their support to date and this fund would be nothing without them.”

Ralph & Maureen Parkes, philanthropists, and donors to the Ignite Fund said: “We are
delighted to support Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s Ignite Fund, especially the Youth Resilience and Harnessing Ability Awards. Each project and charity are unique in their own way and each are demonstrating a clearly positive social impact on the fabric of Irish life. Our Ignite Awardee’s who come from across Ireland, are already carrying out incredible work and, with the help of this Fund, we look forward to witnessing the great things they go on to achieve.”

Social Innovation Fund Ireland welcomes the launch of National Strategy on Social Enterprise

Social Innovation Fund Ireland welcomes the launch of National Strategy on Social Enterprise

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) today welcomed the launch of a national strategy on social enterprise launched by Minister Michael Ring, TD, today.

“Social Innovation is having an impact in every county across Ireland and is providing solutions to many critical societal needs. They are also creating valuable employment. Since our establishment three years ago we have supported over 64 social innovations, located in every county in Ireland. In 2018 our Awardees created 97 new jobs and tackled issues in Education, Healthcare, Socioeconomic disadvantage, Gender Inequality and Social Exclusion. The strength of social innovation is that they are often responding to a need in their own community, that with the right funding and supports, could be expanded to other counties across Ireland. This national strategy is important if the untapped potential of this sector is to be realised. And we welcome the Government’s continued commitment to creating the environment in which social innovation can flourish and the supports they need to expand and grow”, she said.

Social Innovation Fund Ireland is Ireland’s largest funder of social innovation in Ireland with a fund of over €28 million. Established three years ago to support social innovations to scale and help accelerate the solving of Ireland’s critical social issues, funding is secured from corporates, foundations, SMEs, families and individuals and matched funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development from the Dormant Funds Account. SIFI supports social innovations to successfully deliver new approaches to meet social needs more effectively and sustainably than those currently available. 

Click here to read the full strategy. For more information on our response and our Social Enterprise Development Fund contact: stephanie@socialinnovation.ie

 

Innovation in Education: Gamechanger Dialogue 8-10th May 2019

 

By Michael Barron

“This gathering of key stakeholders and innovators was unique in both its approach and outcome. The event encouraged and supported broad information sharing and deep collaboration as well as out of the box thinking that I feel could yield real outcomes to benefit student access” –participant

On the stunning West Coast of Ireland between May 8 – 10th we were delighted to bring together an extraordinary group of 70 education innovators and leaders to address urgent issues and to support change in our education system.

We had an inspiring few days at the Burren College of Art, in beautiful Co Clare. Our aim was to create a respectful and creative dialogue for Ireland between education innovators,  policymakers and exceptional individuals who work across the system every day in order to address urgent problems in the existing education system.

The Gamechanger Dialogue was created in partnership with The Teaching Council of Ireland, The National Association for Principals and Deputy Principals and Trinity College Dublin – deeply credible stakeholders with long histories of supporting positive developments in the system.

Participants included representatives from The Department of Education and Skills, The Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Tusla, The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Education and Training Board Ireland, The National Youth Council of Ireland and The National Council for Special Education

Social Innovation Fund Ireland funds a number of pioneering projects in the Education sector, which have developed some exciting insights into enhancing learning opportunities for a wide range of students in both in-school and out-of-school settings. Throughout the three days, these projects presented their work and the context for wider conversations about approaches to inclusive education.

“The opportunity to interact with colleagues from the education spectrum is invaluable. The use of the cluster groups provided an opportunity to develop ideas into actions to be explored.” – Participant

Most of our time together was spent in three thematic cluster groups, which engaged in particular areas of work to foster a more inclusive education system. These were:

  1. .‘Pathways and Inclusion’ (Establishing and supporting viable pathways to and through Basic, Further and Higher Education for people from marginalised communities).
  2. ‘Getting to College’ (Improving progression rates from under-served communities, Junior and Senior Cycle Reforms, integrated working across Departments and new partnerships).
  3. Alternative Education’ (Giving appropriate priority to young people not in mainstream schools, building on models that work and exploring the potential for funding to follow the young person)

Throughout the three days participants worked creatively in these groups to deeply consider issues which are ‘stuck’ in our education system. They moved on to identifying potential area ‘acupuncture points’ and ways to move forward together in these areas.

So what happened?

The value of collaboration should never be underestimated, this event gave me such motivation as I understood that so many others shared the same goals and values” – Participant.

On the first day, we heard about education policy change from international perspectives.

Mark Fuster, Education Policy Analyst from the Office of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) spoke about the need for schools to work together with social services and local communities to make sure interventions are developed to address the underlying causes of poverty and marginalisation, as well as the physical and mental health needs of students and their opportunities for structured learning beyond formal learning time. Here Marc emphasised the need to bring together students, schools and their communities and spoke of the complexity of education systems – whereby the same intervention doesn’t work in every context and hence the need to offer different support alternatives in different national contexts.

Anastasia Crickley – Former Chairperson of UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and founder of Pavee Point, spoke of the problem with discussing educational ‘disadvantage’ and proposed that we place greater emphasis on education as a human right. In her talk, Anastasia highlighted Ireland’s obligations to provide education  – drawing on international treaties and also highlighting the Sustainable Development Goals. She also spoke about the need to see education as ‘life-long’, an approach which would better support learners to enter and exit the system in response to the reality of their lives. She emphasisedalso spoke of the need for greater parity of esteem between policymakers, teachers, learners, families and communities – a theme which emerged throughout the event.

Michael Salvatori is the Registrar and CEO of the Ontario School of Teachers. He spoke about transforming the education system in Ontario through a number of phases. These include teacher wellbeing, focusing on mental health (including addiction) across the school system and celebrating diversity. Ontario has introduced an innovative teacher education module that incorporates contextual knowledge, health, indigenous communities, transitions, diversity and collaborative school culture.

 

We also heard from Professor Pat Dolan, Dr Cormac Forkan and Dr Tanja Kovacic from the National University of Ireland Galway, who presented early findings of an evaluation of Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s Education Fund and awardees. The researchers emphasised that they are taking an ‘Emancipatory Research’ approach, where the focus is on making the research user-friendly, producing usable knowledge and evidence. Key messages from the research with awardees to date include 1. Alternative ways of learning are being used effectively; 2. Mentorship is key – particularly by those who have had similar experience; 3. The focus is on personal development skills; 4. Caring and supportive relationships with staff and other participants is a key; 5. Projects act as sanctuaries for learners.

On the final day participants worked with facilitators to develop a series of 14 action points and plans to be brought forward from the Game Changer Dialogue.  In identifying these actions, participants highlighted a vision for inclusion in the area, the challenges faced and the structure or vehicle needed to deliver the change. They also established who the relevant stakeholders are and committed to working together further to realise the change. These 14 action points will form the basis of the forthcoming Gamechanger Dialogue Action Report, which in turn will be used to develop further actions.

We will leave the final words to participants at the event, who said the following:

“This event enabled a much needed discussion about crucial societal topic by bringing together all key actors in the area of education. Respect, dialogue and appreciation for other people’s views and experiences were key drivers of this event. Walking the Burren, discussing and thinking made this event special!”

“The Gamechanger event provided a real opportunity to feel and witness the passion that exists in our country to do the best we possibly can for every single person within our education system; pupil, learner, teacher and policy maker alike”.

“The Gamechanger Dialogue in education event was exactly as it promised – an opportunity to change the dialogue in education . “leave no one behind” was a stand out comment for me from the 3 days and an aspiration that with the will and cross sectorial support is very possible”.

“The event and location gave us the time and space to step out of our respective corners of education, have a meaningful dialogue about what positive change is needed and take the first steps together before leaving. It was hugely encouraging”.

“An enlightening handful of days, the game changer dialogue delivers on the experience of facing the difficult truths of the education system head on”.

Ireland Welcomes a New Mná na hÉireann – Women of Ireland Fund

Ireland Welcomes a New Mná na hÉireann – Women of Ireland Fund

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Innovation Fund Ireland, in partnership with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development, are today pleased to announce the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund. The new fund, which is the first of its kind in Ireland has been established to support charitable and social enterprise organisations that seek to enhance the economic mobility of women, by investing in organisations that provide training, upskilling, education and other services directly to disadvantaged women.

According to figures from the Central Statistics Office Ireland, the gender participation gap in the Irish labour market is one of the widest in Europe, compared to other EU-15 countries. The female labour force participation rate is 14% lower than their male counterparts, despite women making up more than half of third level graduates in Ireland.

In addition to grant funding, successful organisations will receive a place on an Accelerator Programme, which includes bespoke training from experts across the private, non-profit and public sector. Employees from the bank will also provide mentoring and further tailored training to the successful organisations. The Programme is specifically designed to equip charities and social enterprises with the skills to expand their business knowledge, drive growth and strengthen their impact across Ireland.

Launching the new ‘Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland’ Fund, The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said, “I believe diversity and equality in the workplace lead to better results for employers and businesses and the clients or communities they serve. I am really pleased to see Bank of America collaborating with Social Innovation Fund to provide training and upskilling to women experiencing disadvantage. The €1.8 million fund has the potential to create a lasting impact and transform the lives of the women involved and add value to our society. This initiative also complements the work being done by Government to reduce the gender pay gap in Ireland and ensure greater representation of women across all sectors of Irish society.”

Bank of America has a longstanding commitment to improving economic mobility by building strong communities. The bank is working to effect positive change and sustainable growth through a variety of local and global initiatives across Ireland, including partnerships with Music Generation, South Dublin County Partnership and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.

Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Canney TD said, “The Department of Rural and Community Development is delighted to be a partner of this initiative. Every euro that is donated in private philanthropy to Social Innovation Fund Ireland is matched by the Department through the Dormant Accounts Fund. With this approach, we are helping to support charities and social enterprises to maximise their impact across Ireland.’’

Anne Finucane, Chairman, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Europe and Vice Chairman, Bank of America, said: “Fostering sustainable growth, economic mobility and social progress within the communities in which we operate is at the heart of our business. This new fund aims to support organisations which provide women with the tools needed to gain sustainable employment. We are pleased to be partnering with Social Innovation Fund Ireland and The Irish Government to achieve this goal.”

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: “Our aim is to support women who find it hard to access the labour market into decent and sustainable work by supporting relevant organisations to empower women by improving their skills, enabling them to seek higher quality, more challenging, and more fulfilling long-term employment.

“With the establishment of this pioneering fund and working closely with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development, we aim to empower 1,000 women to find and secure sustained employment over the course of three years.’’

Organisations wishing to apply to the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund can find details on the Social Innovation Fund website www.socialinnovation.ie/mna-na-heireann-fund with the application period open from today until 18 April 2019.

Record-breaking €10M Fund Rewards

Projects Improving Lives for Young People In Ireland

10th December 2018: Social Innovation Fund Ireland, today announced the winners of 2018 Youth Fund.

Worth €10 million, the Youth Fund is the largest Social Innovation Fund to date. The Fund is made up of 50% private philanthropic funding, self-raised by 15 Awardees. The other half comes from Government, through the Department of Rural and Community Development from the Dormant Accounts Fund.

The 2018 Youth Fund, includes the Youth Education Fund and Youth Mental Health Fund and was designed to support projects addressing the most prevalent issues facing young people in Ireland.

The Awardees each receive a multi-year grant and will also be granted 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 a community of innovators who have the collective ability to create systemic change.

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: “Firstly, I’d like to congratulate all of today’s Awardees. Each one of the projects awarded today are helping change the lives of children and young people in Ireland and being able to support them with these new funds is fantastic.

“For the younger generations of Ireland, education and mental health are closely intertwined and supporting individuals who struggle in one of these areas will inherently support them in the other. We all know that if we struggle at school, we feel bad; and if we struggle with our mental health, we can’t learn. We were blown away by the breadth of work each of the awardees is undertaking and we can’t wait to support them to deepen and spread their impact over the next 3 years.’’

Terence O’Rourke, Board Director, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: “Today’s awardees are a fantastic depiction of the amazing work non-profit organisations are carrying out across the country on a daily basis. There is everything from music-based projects to help young people deal with anxiety to projects promoting the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education for future career opportunities.

“All of these projects are making a real difference in supporting young people in Ireland to achieve their very best and I’m proud to play a part in it.”

Social Innovation Fund Ireland are Hiring!


At just 4 years old, we have launched 14 Funds and supported 61 organisations to date. Since our first year of operations, we’ve partnered with companies such as Google, Medtronic, Mason Hayes & Curran, and IPB Insurance,  as well as SME’s, trusts, families and individuals. In 2017, we saw our income increase five-fold and our grant expenditure increase eight-fold.

We have recently strengthened our Board through 2 new appointments. We are now looking for driven people to join as we build a world-class organisation that will create the world’s best eco-system for social innovation – right here in Ireland. 

We are seeking to hire for a new range of roles including:

Recruiting these roles will enable us to lead the way and deepen the impact of our growing portfolio of awardees.