Social Innovation Fund

Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s Education Fund is open to projects that are focused on improving educational outcomes (at QQI Level 6 or higher from the National Framework of Qualifications) for those experiencing educational disadvantage. Projects are likely to focus on students at the upper end of second level or starting higher education.  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.

Why Educational Disadvantage?

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.

What does the Education Fund offer?

Social Innovation Fund Ireland believes that there are many innovative local projects that tackle educational disadvantage but which fail to grow and spread. With this in mind the education fund aims to address this by:
  • Providing funding to organisations who can provide evidence of having secured match private or philanthropic funding for the duration of the proposed project  
  • Convene the best projects together annually to share learnings
  • Provide projects with the opportunity to participate in a cluster evaluation
  • Provide projects with a platform to showcase their work at a closing event.

What Kind of project is the Education Fund looking for?

Applicants should be able to demonstrate how their project will improve educational attainment for those experiencing educational disadvantage.
Applicant projects should also be able to demonstrate that they have secured private or philanthropic funding for the period proposed, and that the programme cannot be carried out without the matching funding of SIFI. Please note that SIFI will retain a percentage of the matching funding for administrative costs.


Applicants must meet Social Innovation Fund Ireland standard criteria and specific criteria for the Education Fund, set out below.

Social Innovation Fund Ireland standard criteria

  • The project must address a critical social issue – in this case educational disadvantage
  • The solution proposed must be innovative in an Irish context.
  • The solution 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 solution must provide evidence that it is up and running, or have been tested at least in a minimal way.
  • That it is based on the island of Ireland and will 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 or higher education institutes. 

Education  Fund Specific Criteria

  • Applicants should be projects that are focused at second level education and/or entry stage of higher level education
  • The project must be able to demonstrate that it has secured private or philanthropic funding, of at least €10,000 per year, for the period of its proposed project, and that the programme cannot be carried out without the matching funding of Social Innovation Fund Ireland
  • The project will be able to demonstrate improved educational attainment leading to better educational outcomes.

Selection Criteria – Preferred projects will also demonstrate

  • A Programme with a research & evaluation component, especially a link to a University or a QQI Level 6 accredited institution
  • Projects with a proposed 3-5 year duration with funding secured for the proposed timeframe
  • Projects that seek to address gaps in numeracy or literacy or those that extend beyond the standard Curriculum – through Arts, 21st Century skills etc 
  • Those that employ a holistic approach – whole school, community and/or parental involvement
  • Proposals that include attainable and measurable targets and outcomes (short term and medium term goals) in relation to educational attainment and that drive towards improved access to or retention at 3rd level (QQI Level 6 & above).

Who can apply?

The Education Fund will accept applications from
  • Not for Profits
  • Charities
  • Schools
  • Higher Education Institutes



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Social Innovation Fund
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