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:


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 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.

FoodCloud aims to double impact over next 3 years following new investment from AIB and Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s Growth Fund

Social Enterprise FoodCloud will aim to double its impact over the next three years after securing significant investment from AIB, with part matched Government funding through Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI).

Over the next three years, AIB has committed to investing €500,000 per annum in FoodCloud. This will be further supported by financial and non-financial supports to the value of €330,000 per annum for 3 years from SIFI’s new Growth Fund which has been established by the Department of Rural and Community Development from the Dormant Accounts Fund. The Growth Fund invests in established organisations that have completed one of Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s programmes and are ready to secure significant growth capital to achieve significant scale and deepen their impact.

Founded in 2013 by Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien, FoodCloud is the first company to receive investment from the new SIFI Growth Fund. The funding will be used to invest in the further development of FoodCloud’s bespoke technology platform, the expansion of FoodCloud Hubs and the development of new services to support the redistribution of surplus food.

After a period of very fast growth over the last 5 years, this funding will allow FoodCloud to invest in future proofing of their bespoke retailer technology in Ireland, building a resilient tech solution that can support the projected growth in 2018-2020. The funding will also support the expansion of FoodCloud Hubs to deliver an improved service to both charity and Food Industry partners.

Seán Canney, T.D, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, said: “FoodCloud is a wonderful example of the impact of social enterprise in Ireland. A simple concept to match retailers with surplus food and charities has seen some 40 million meals distributed to date. Food donations provide essential support to charities by enabling them to save money on their food bills, in some instances up to 80%, which they instead can redirect to improving their services to the people they support. I am delighted that my Department, through Social Innovation Fund Ireland, can part-match AIB’s significant investment, which will help FoodCloud broaden its reach and deepen its impact.”
Iseult Ward, Co-CEO, FoodCloud said: “The investment from AIB and SIFI through the new Growth Fund is transformational for our company. The multi-year partnership gives us security and certainty in relation to our fundraising income, allowing us to take a longer-term view, focusing on activating our plans for future growth, to realise our targets as set out in our strategic plan and freeing up the resources that would previously focused on fundraising alone.

We’ve ambitious targets for the future aiming for a 100% increase in food rescued, leading to a 100% reduction CO2 emission and an increase in beneficiaries to approximately 130,000 people across Ireland.”

Jim O’Keefe, Head of Financial Solutions Group, AIB said: “We are always looking for new ways to back Irish businesses and organisations that are making a difference for communities across Ireland, and have recently launched a nationwide community investment programme, focused on the social themes of Youth and Education and Innovative Social Entrepreneurship. We’re delighted to partner with Social Innovation Fund Ireland and its new Growth Fund and to back its first awardee, FoodCloud, to not only continue their fantastic work but also help them expand and evolve as an organisation that’s having real impact in Irish society.”

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) said: “Through the THINKTECH Fund with Google in 2017, we worked with FoodCloud to clarify its strategy, define its challenges, and set out its strategic plan for the coming years. With the support of the Growth Fund, FoodCloud will be able to fully realise their impact targets as set out in their strategic plan. We’re looking forward to working with FoodCloud again in helping them achieve transformative change for food charities and organisations across the country and bring their social enterprise to the next level of impact and viability.’’

Separately, AIB has announced that it is directly investing €100,000 into FoodCloud as well as establishing an employee volunteering programme for FoodCloud as a result. AIB’s 10,000 staff in communities across the country will have the chance to volunteer with FoodCloud. AIB is tapping into its branch network to help drive charity awareness and recruitment for FoodCloud. The partnership will also help drive a direct increase in food donations to charities by creating an awareness of FoodCloud’s work within the Irish Food Manufacturing sector

€40m in dormant bank accounts to be given to community projects



The Government has distributed €40 million in unclaimed personal bank accounts and insurance policies to several community projects around the country, and SIFI is among them! Read more about how this works, and why it is such an exciting step here:

Minister of State Seán Kyne at the launch at Buswells Hotel, pictured with Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Social Innovation Fund Ireland. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Co-working space to help Cork City grow ‘from inside out’


Irish Examiner 

COWork City, a 4,500sq ft office space developed on Cork City Council’s City Hall campus, will be a way for start-up companies to develop before moving to another location to scale up. “There is a great vibe about here. There is a lot going on in the city and we’re delighted to be part of it,” Pádraig Vallely, business innovation manager with the €50m Social Innovation Fund. 

Read more about this project here:

Funding announced for a new out of hours counselling service for homeless people


Irish Examiner 

“Research shows that people who are homeless are at a greater risk of self-harm and suicide ideation, and Dublin Simon has found that targeted measures can reduce these types of thoughts and behaviours. The report, “Opening the Door to Hope”, was launched by the Dublin Simon Community, and identifies ways to support people who expressed suicidal ideation, found that targeted measures reduced the frequency of suicidal thoughts and behaviours.” 

Read more about this incredible initiative below:


Tallaght initiative gives teenagers a Kick in the right direction


Irish Times 

Kickboxing to Inspire and Challenge Kids (KICK), winners of our Animate 2017 fund, have been raising the bar for mental health solutions since their pilot in 2015. Read more about how they use kickboxing to inspire and challenge teenagers below: 

Joy Shaughnessy and Karl Flynn who run Kickboxing to Inspire and Challenge Kids in Tallaght. Photograph: Aidan Crawley