Our Education Fund

What is the education fund?

The Education Fund is a €7 million fund shared among 10 projects. We are delighted to support such a dynamic group of programmes addressing educational disadvantage. 

Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s Education Fund was open to projects focused on improving educational outcomes (at QQI Level 6 or higher from the National Framework of Qualifications) for those experiencing educational disadvantage. Projects were likely to focus on students at the upper end of second level or starting higher education (QQI Level 3-6).  Educational disadvantage that arises from living in a disadvantaged area, socio-economic disadvantage, experiencing mental health or other health issues, or disability are all relevant to this Fund.

Education and related qualifications determine to a large extent the life chances of people. Those who leave education without qualifications are hindered in their ability to find well-paying jobs and as a result are more at risk of poverty. The number of people with educational disadvantage achieving accreditations to QQI level 6, or higher, is disproportionately low when compared with the national norm, despite many Government and other initiatives to combat this. Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s goal via the Education Fund is to improve access to 3rd level education (QQI Level 6 & above) for students affected by disability or disadvantage, through improved educational attainment.

Minister Bruton T.D., with CEO of Social Innovation Fund Ireland at Education Fund launch
Minister Bruton T.D., officially launches Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s Education Fund pictured here with Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Social Innovation Fund Ireland.



 What exactly does the Education Fund offer?

  • Funding to organisations who can provide evidence of having secured match funding for the duration of the proposed project  
  • The opportunity to attend an  annual convening  to share learnings
  • The opportunity to participate in a cluster evaluation
  • A platform to showcase their work.

 How many Awards will be made?

The number of the awards will be dependent upon the quality of applicants.

What can the Awardee spend the funds on?

The funds must be spent on the project which won the Award. The specific use of the funds will be agreed between Social Innovation Fund Ireland and the Awardee.

Funds may not be used to pay off debts or purchase land or buildings.

Who will decide who wins the Awards?

Final decisions are made by the Board of Social Innovation Fund Ireland.  Applications will have previously been reviewed by our Expert Education Advisory Group, chaired by Professor Aine Hyland. 

Click on the images below to read the biography of our Education Advisory Committee. 

There are no team members to display

What is the selection process?

  • Stage 1: Call for Applications  November 2016 –  24 February 2017
  • Stage 2: Review by an Expert Education Advisory Panel
  • Stage 3: Interviews (tbc)
  • Stage 4: Final due diligence on recommended candidates
  • Stage 5: Decision by Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s Board
  • Stage 6: Announce Winners

How do applicants find out where they are in the selection process?

All applicants will be informed by telephone or email.

What projects are not eligible?

  • Projects seeking funds for Scholarships
  • Projects seeking funding for capital items – buildings, vans, etc.
  • Research projects
  • Party political projects
  • Projects that screen beneficiaries in or out by faith or religious denomination
  • Projects where the main impact is outside Republic of Ireland
  • Projects that are an idea (only) and that have not yet started
  • Projects that are focused on educational attainment pre QQI level 6.

What applicants are not eligible?

  • Applicants must be over 18 years old
  • Applications must come from an entity that has a not for profit legal form e.g. school, charity, or social enterprise.
  • Social Innovation Fund Ireland staff, Directors and their family members* are excluded from applying.

*Immediate family members include sibling, parent, spouse or civil partner or child. 

How does the matching funding work? 

  • Successful Applicants are asked to provide evidence to verify the private funding they have secured. Example Donor letter of Commitment 
  • These private funds are paid to Social Innovation Fund Ireland annually
  • Social Innovation Fund Ireland provides evidence of paid donor funds and committed donor funds to Government
  • Government releases matching funding to Social Innovation Fund Ireland
  • Following this, Social Innovation Fund Ireland makes matching grants to successful applicants 
  • Please note that Social Innovation Fund Ireland will deduct up to 25% from the total fund to fund Education Fund costs including evaluations, selection and project management, event costs etc.

For example: Applicant has raised €60,000 in private funds over 3 years (€20,000 per year). Their donors pay these funds to Social Innovation Fund Ireland annually. Social Innovation Fund Ireland secures matching funds of €20,000 per annum from Government. Social Innovation Fund Ireland retains up to 25% of the total funds (ie. €10,000) and pays a grant of €30,000 per annum to the applicant for the project: €20,000 donor funds plus €10,000 matching funds. 


By applying for the Education Fund, all applicants have agreed to the Terms & Conditions.

All applicants warrant that they are over 18 years of age
All applicants warrant that they have engaged fully and truthfully with the application process and will engage fully and truthfully with the selection process. This includes providing full and accurate information, both written and verbal, at all stages of the process
All applicants warrant that they are eligible to apply
All applicants warrant that they have the right to apply. This means that they hold the necessary rights to carry out the project.

Please contact: martina@socialinnovation.ie with any questions.