Social Innovation Fund Ireland and law firm Mason Hayes & Curran, have launched a new €450,000 Engage and Educate Fund.

The new fund will support community projects that empower people through education to achieve their full potential and to contribute to community. Projects that focus on people experiencing disadvantage, people with disabilities or migrants are encouraged to apply. The fund is a three year commitment between Mason Hayes & Curran, Social Innovation Fund Ireland and the Irish Government. Each year €150,000 in funding will be available to be shared between 4 or 5 successful applicants.

“The Engage and Educate Fund will provide grants to innovative education initiatives that allow people to achieve their full potential and contribute to community. We are now calling for applications,” said Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Social Innovation Fund Ireland.

Attending the launch, Eoghan Murphy TD, Minister of State for Financial Services said: “The Engage and Educate Fund is a great example of Government, corporate leadership and social innovation coming together to drive real societal change. I look forward to seeing these projects bring sustainable change in their communities over the coming months.”

Awarded projects will receive a share of the significant fund including a cash grant and non-financial supports, similar to those provided by venture capital companies to commercial enterprises. Non-profit organisations, educational institutions and community groups across Ireland are encouraged to apply for funding before April 5th 2017. Eligible projects can also include adult education or physical education for disadvantaged adults, young people or children.

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: “Education can be a great equaliser and a powerful tool to build equality of opportunity, however some people can be restricted from accessing education which can hinder them from reaching their potential and contributing fully to society. The Engage and Educate Fund aims to combat this issue by finding and backing innovative projects that have the power to change lives and communities.”

Speaking about the development of the Fund and the partnership with Social Innovation Fund Ireland, Declan Black, Managing Partner of Mason Hayes & Curran said: “Social Innovation Fund Ireland and Mason Hayes & Curran are bound by a shared belief that improved access to education can have a positive impact on life outcomes. Mason Hayes & Curran has supported the provision of educational opportunity, particularly from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, for many years. It is entirely in keeping with this long-standing approach for us to form the Engage and Educate Fund with Social Innovation Fund Ireland and the support of the Government. We hope that there will be many impressive applications from projects which aim to empower people through education.”

The Engage and Educate Fund will be open for applications until 5th April 2017.

Applications can be made through the Social Innovation Fund Ireland website www.socialinnovation.ie/engage-and-educate