Youth Education Fund

*Update* We have extended the deadline for the donor letter of commitment to Wednesday 13th June 5pm. The deadline for applications remains the same – Friday 18th May 2018 at 5 pm.

Once you have submitted your application this Friday, you will still have access to the application portal until Wednesday 13th June to submit your donor letters of commitment. 


The Youth Education Fund has been created by Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) in partnership with 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.

Through the Youth Education Fund, we are aiming to improve access to higher and further education for students (up to age 25) affected by disability or disadvantage.

As part of the application requirements, we are asking applicants to demonstrate that they have secured private or philanthropic funding for the duration of this fund. If the applicant is successful, we will match their donation by providing a 50% uplift on their funds, as well as delivering other supports such as training,impact measurement and capacity building.


Education largely determines the opportunities afforded to people throughout their lives. 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.

We are calling out to innovative projects or programmes in Ireland that:

  • Improve the retention of youth learners up to age 25 who are affected by disadvantage or disability at level 1 to 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) or equivalent accredited programmes/courses; and
  • Demonstrate movement of learners along the NFQ ladder or equivalent.

The Youth Education Fund aims to have wider impact and will contribute to Ireland’s achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.


  • 50% uplift on funds raised by applicants (applicants must provide evidence to verify the private funding has been secured)
  • Peer to peer networking and knowledge sharing
  • Training workshops
  • Impact measurement
  • A platform for awardees to showcase their work at an awards event


Successful applicants are asked to provide evidence to verify the private funding they have secured. We require a minimum of €20,000 private funding per year for a minimum period of 2 years for the Youth Fund. A Donor Letter of Commitment should be provided in support of this application outlining the amount of funding and the duration. (Donor Letter of Commitment)

How the funding process works

  • These private funds are paid to Social Innovation Fund Ireland annually
  • Social Innovation Fund Ireland provides evidence of committed donor funds to Government
  • Government releases funding to Social Innovation Fund Ireland
  • Following this, Social Innovation Fund Ireland provides an uplift of 50% on the donor funds and makes a grant to successful applicants

Example: Applicant has raised €60,000 in private funds over 3 years (€20,000 per year).

Secured donor funds

Youth Education Fund uplift

Applicant donor funds per year

No. of years

Total donor funds

SIFI Uplift (50%) per year

SIFI total uplift for 3 years  

Total funds (Including donor and SIFI uplift) over 3 years







The Youth Education Fund provides a total uplift to the €60,000 of €30,000 making a total fund of €90,000. This €90,000  is paid over the 3 years at €30,000 p.a (€20,000 donor funds and €10,000 SIFI uplift).


Applicants should be able to demonstrate how they improve the retention of youth learners up to age 25 who are affected by disadvantage or disability at NFQ levels 1 to 8 equivalent, moving them up the NFQ ladder.

All applicants should have a strong evidence base for their project and have an evaluation or assessment component.

Applicants should also be able to demonstrate that they have raised private or philanthropic funding for the period proposed and that the programme cannot be carried out without the match funding of SIFI.


Applicants must have not-for-profit legal status to be considered for the Youth Education Fund. For example: charity, company limited by guarantee, trust etc…

Projects applying to the Youth Education Fund must meet the standard SIFI and Youth Education Fund core criteria listed below:


  • The project must address a critical social issue – in this case educational disadvantage
  • The project proposed must be innovative in an Irish context
  • The project must have potential and a desire to scale or replicate in Ireland (it may also have potential internationally, but this is not a requirement)
  • The project must provide evidence that it is up and running, or has been tested at least in a minimal way
  • The project must be based on the island of Ireland and make its main impact in the Republic of Ireland
  • Applicants must come from an entity that has a not-for-profit legal form e.g. school, charity, social enterprise, voluntary organisation or Higher Education Institution

youth education fund CORE CRITERIA

  • Projects that are focused on the retention of youth learners up to age 25 affected by disadvantage or disability (learning, intellectual or physical) leading to awards at level 1 to 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) or equivalent accredited programmes/courses
  • Projects that can demonstrate progression of learners within the NFQ or to equivalent accredited programmes and thereby improving access to further and higher education and training
  • Projects that have secured a minimum of €20,000 per year for 2 years in private pledged donations


  • Projects with a research or evaluation component
  • Projects with a proposed 3-5-year duration with funding secured for this time frame.
  • Projects that seek to fill in the gaps of numeracy and literacy
  • Where projects work with schools, projects that extend beyond the standard curriculum – for example through arts or 21st-century skills
  • Where projects work with a school or group, projects that employ a holistic/multidisciplinary approach – whole school, community and/or parental involvement
  • Projects that include attainable and measurable outcomes and impact in relation to learners’ progression.


The Youth Education Fund is open for applications from 9th February 2018 until 18th May 2018


The Youth Education Fund application form is available here.


Applicants are expected to be available for interviews between the 18th June and 26th June 2018.


Awardees will be expected to:

  • Complete progress reports on their activities (up to four per year)
  • Submit an annual report on project outcomes
  • Attend training workshops and showcase events
  • Participate in impact measurement training  


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 capital items such as land, equipment, renovations or buildings.

Who will decide who wins the Awards?

Final decisions are made by the Board of Social Innovation Fund Ireland.

What is the selection process?

  • Stage 1: 9th February 2018 – 18th of May 2018 – Call for Applications
  • Stage 2: May / June 2018 – Review by an expert Education Advisory Group
  • Stage 3: 18th June-26th June 2018 – Interviews
  • Stage 4: July – August 2018 – Final due diligence on recommended candidate
  • Stage 5: September 2018 – Decision by Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s Board

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 funding for capital items – buildings, vans, renovations, equipment etc.
  • Research projects
  • Party political projects
  • Projects that do not provide a benefit to people or the environment e.g. projects that benefit animals only
  • Projects that screen beneficiaries in or out by faith or religious denomination
  • Projects where the main impact is outside the Republic of Ireland
  • Projects led by people under 18 years
  • Projects that are an idea (only) and that have not yet started
  • Projects that are recipients of by SIFI’s Youth Education Fund 2017 are not eligible to re-apply to this Fund   

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. a school, charity or social enterprise. For profit entities are excluded.
  • Social Innovation Fund Ireland staff, directors and their immediate family members*, are excluded from applying.

* Immediate family member includes sibling, parent, spouse or civil partner, or child.



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

  • Social Innovation Fund Ireland will retain 50% of the match uplift from Government for administrative costs, project management and programme costs.
  • 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 von Richter at with any questions you have on the criteria. If you have any questions about the fundraising requirement of this fund please contact Anne Dermody at