Engage & Educate Fund 2018


The Engage & Educate Fund is a €150,000 awards fund created by Social Innovation Fund Ireland in partnership with Mason Hayes & Curran 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 Engage & Educate Fund is open to projects that empower people through education to achieve their full potential and to contribute to their community. The objective of the fund is to find and back innovative projects that empower people through education with a focus on tackling the disabling effects on human potential of disadvantage, disability or migrant status.

Left to Right: Susan Whelan (Irish Deaf Society), Kate Sheridan (Blue Diamond Drama Academy), John Logue (Suas), Joanne Dolan (Teen-Turn), Peter Sheekey (Intercultural Language Service)


On June 27th Minister Seán Kyne announced the winners of the Engage and Educate Fund at the offices of Mason Hayes & Curran. Find out more about their wonderful projects below.

Blue Diamond Drama Academy

Blue Diamond Drama Academy addresses the lack of 3rd level education and employment opportunities currently available for adults with intellectual disabilities. The project offers full and part time courses in theatre training, along with work experience and employment opportunities. They are currently in the process of formalising their accreditation process with DIT. Blue Diamond’s Theatre Company, which launched this month, will be one of the offers to address employability.

Deaf Education Online

Deaf Education Online will address barriers to accessing education for Deaf people throughout Ireland through provision of courses taught in Irish Sign Language, which is the first and/or preferred language of 5,000 Deaf people in Ireland. The pilot is being rolled out in response to a clear need for accessible QQI courses, particularly in rural areas and for those who have difficulties leaving their homes to attend courses in-person.

Intercultural Language Service

Intercultural Language Service provides an innovative, flexible ‘drop-in model’ that assesses, supports and empowers socially-excluded adult migrants, who otherwise have no access to education, to improve their English to CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) levels B1/B2. This level means that a person has enough English to actively participate in society. ILS was also an Engage & Educate 2017 Awardee.

Suas Ireland Education Programme

The Suas Ireland Education Programme addresses educational disadvantage for the children most at risk of falling behind in Ireland’s educational system. Suas deliver evidence-based literacy support interventions and maths interventions to children aged 8-14 years in DEIS schools. To accomplish this, Suas recruit and train volunteer mentors from local communities, businesses and universities to provide one-to-one reading and maths support.


Teen-Turn provides role models and hands-on experience to teenage girls from disadvantaged communities in order to encourage and enable the kind of school performances that lead to post-secondary STEM courses and qualifications. Teen-Turn provides hands-on experience through work placements and after school activities, near or in these communities, featuring female role models unlike presentations in schools or one-day events.