Open Fund

Equality Fund 2020 – 2023

Closing Date

Supporting communities to make Ireland a more equal place

At Rethink Ireland, we know that Ireland is not an equal place for everyone who lives here. We are committed to partnering with civil society organisations to challenge these inequalities and to create a country where everyone can feel accepted and thrive.

This is why we created the Equality Fund 2020 – 2023. This €3 million Fund is supported by the Peter Kinney and Lisa Sandquist Foundation and the Government of Ireland. This Fund will support organisations and groups that empower marginalised communities and tackle systemic inequality.

You can apply to the Equality Fund via the online application form by 5 pm on Monday 14th September 2020.

How does it work?

The deadline for applying to the Equality Fund is 5 pm on Monday, September 14th, 2020.

This Fund has three strands.

1. Empowering Women: This strand supports projects to empower more women from minority communities into employment. This strand will also fund projects which support women who are employed on an informal basis, in low paying jobs, or who find it difficult to assert their rights.
2. Strengthening Communities: This strand supports projects which empower communities to advocate for themselves. They will strengthen equality in Ireland through community work and collective action.
3. Building Equality Together: This strand supports projects or networks to work together to enhance equality. We seek applications from two or more organisations who have come together to promote equality. This includes existing networks and collaborations.

Note: You cannot apply for both strands 1 and 2 for the same project.
If you apply to strand 1 or 2, you can still apply to strand 3. This is because you will apply to strand 3 as part of a group or network of projects.

The one organisation can apply to all three strands with three separate projects, but we advise against this. We encourage you to only submit applications which are core to your mission and which you have put the time, strategic thinking and work into writing. It is unlikely that this will be all 3 strands, so please prioritise.

Who can apply?

We invite applications from organisations that support marginalised women, migrant people (including people in need of international protection), people from minority ethnic communities, the Traveller and Roma communities, people with disabilities and LGBTI+ people. These organisations will also work to strengthen equality in Ireland.

The Fund will especially focus on projects that:

  • Address poverty inequality
  • Work with communities experiencing many discriminations and stigma
  • Work with marginalised communities affected by COVID-19
  • Are based on communities speaking and acting for themselves

To enable this work the Fund further welcomes projects which emphasise:

  • Freedom of civil society, solidarity between groups and collaborations
  • Changing hearts and minds
  • Systemic change
  • Leadership support


Projects must meet the below criteria.

Rethink Ireland Core Criteria

  • The project must address a critical social issue 
  • The project must be innovative in an Irish context. (The innovation could be a tested project which tackles inequality in new ways)
  • The project must have the potential and desire to scale or replicate in Ireland. 
  • The project must provide evidence that it is up and running, or be 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 have a not-for-profit legal form. For example, a company limited by guarantee or trust.

Equality Fund criteria 

Strand 1. Empowering Women:

Core criteria 

Projects should meet one or more of the criteria below

  • Projects focused on supporting marginalised and minority women. This includes one or more of the following:
    1. Traveller and Roma women
    2. Migrant women, (including women in need of  international protection)
    3. Women from minority ethnic communities  
    4. LGBTI+ women
    5. Women with disabilities 
    6. Women living in poverty
  • Projects which address barriers faced by marginalised and minority women when accessing employment
  • Projects which support marginalised and minority women move into employment. 
  • Projects which work with women who are informally employed, underemployed, in low pay and who find it difficult to assert their rights.
  • Projects which support employers in making workplaces more accessible to marginalised women.
  • Projects which work to enhance leadership amongst marginalised and minority women. 
  • Projects which promote community development approaches.

Advantageous criteria

  • Projects which have evidence of sustained impact.
  • Projects which have a demonstrable commitment to equality and human rights for all.
  • Projects which are committed to sustainability beyond the lifetime of this investment.


  1. Strengthening Communities: 

Core criteria

  • Projects which focus on enhancing equality for one or more of the following:
    1. Traveller and Roma people
    2. Migrant people, (including people in need of  international protection)
    3. People from minority ethnic communities 
    4. LGBTI+ people
    5. People with disabilities
    6. People living in poverty

Projects should meet one or more of the criteria below:

  • Projects which apply community work approaches, promote community empowerment and leadership.
  • Projects which are committed to tackling poverty inequality, and related issues.
  • Projects which are committed to tackling stigma and discrimination. This includes racism, transphobia, ableism, classism.

Advantageous criteria

  • Projects which are willing to collaborate with others in their work
  • Projects which work to improve the lives of people who experience multiple discrimination.
  • Projects which are committed to systemic change
  • Projects which have evidence of sustained impact.
  • Projects which have a demonstrable commitment to equality and human rights for all.
  • Projects which are committed to sustainability beyond the lifetime of this investment.


  1. Building Equality Together: 

Core criteria

Projects should meet one or more of the criteria below

  • Projects which work collaboratively to build civil society’s ability to promote equality. This includes through networks and coalitions
  • Projects which work to remove barriers faced by civil society
  • Projects which promote systemic change approaches to pursuing equality
  • Projects which aim to  transform work towards equality across several areas
  • Projects which provide opportunities to advance emerging equality issues in Ireland.
  • Projects which tackle stigma and discrimination,  such as racism, transphobia, ableism, classism, collectively

Advantageous criteria

  • Projects which have consulted widely and are evidence-based
  • Projects which are housed in organisations with evidence of sustained impact
  • Projects which have a demonstrable commitment to equality and human rights for all.
  • Projects which are committed to sustainability beyond the lifetime of this investment.

Which projects cannot apply?

Projects that are not eligible to apply are:

  • Projects seeking funds for capital items such as buildings, vans, renovations, or equipment
  • Projects where research is the primary activity
  • Projects promoting or aligned with a political party
  • Projects that only accept participants of a particular faith or religious denomination
  • Projects where the main impact is outside the Republic of Ireland
  • Projects led by people under 18 years of age
  • Projects that do not seek to advance equality in Ireland

Which applicants cannot apply?

  • Applicants under 18 years of age 
  • Commercial companies 
  • Staff, directors and their immediate family members of Rethink Ireland 

What does the fund offer?

  • Cash grants of between €55,000 and €75,000 each year for three years*
    • Strand 1 (Empowering Women) – Up to €65,000 per year each year for 3 years
    • Strand 2 (Strengthening Communities) – Up to €55,000 per year each year for 3 years
    • Strand 3 (Building Equality Together) – Up to €75,000 per year each year for 3 years
  • A strategic supports package to help organisations expand and deepen their impact
  • A place on Rethink Ireland’s Accelerator Programme
  • Project performance and impact management, including managing its impact
  • Access to Rethink Ireland ’s networks of civil society,  Government and donors

* The Rethink Ireland Board will decide how much money to award, which may be less than the amount requested. The amount of the award will depend on how many organisations are selected.

How do we apply?

Complete the online application form by 5 pm on Monday 14th September 2020. To complete your application form online, you will need to upload documents such as a three-year budget for your project (in Excel), your financial statements and a link to a 2-3 minute video about your project. 

You can find out some more information on the Equality Fund and step-by-step instructions on how to apply, by viewing our Webinar Video


We have tried to make the application process as accessible as possible but we understand that there may still be some difficulties for applicants. If you have access needs or are struggling with the application form, please contact We will be able to assist you then.

What happens next?

A team of experts will review the applications. If you are successful in the review process, we will invite your project leader to an interview. The interviews will take place from Monday 5th October 2020. The judges may do further checks or site visits. If you are successful, we will notify you in November or early December. The Awards Ceremony and announcement will take place in Quarter 1 2021.

What happens if our project is successful?

We will invite you to take part in our Accelerator Programme which runs from February 2021 to December 2023. This programme will include:

  • mentoring
  • strategic planning
  • measuring the impact of the project
  • communications training
  • access to Rethink Ireland’s expertise and networks

We will expect your project leader to devote at least two days a month to the programme.

Frequently asked questions

What can we spend the grant on?

You may only spend the grant on the project which won the award. Rethink Ireland will agree on the specific use of the grant with you. Please note: you cannot use the grant to pay off debts or buy land, buildings or equipment.

Who will decide who wins the awards?

The Board of Rethink Ireland will make the final decision

What is the selection process?

  • Stage 1: Open call for applications (13 July – 14 September 2020)
  • Stage 2: Selection process (September to October 2020)
  • Stage 3: Interviews (October 2020)
  • Stage 4: Final checks on short-listed applicants (October to November 2020)
  • Stage 5: Final decision by Rethink Ireland’s Board (November or December 2020)

How can we find out where we are in the selection process?

We will inform applicants by telephone or email.

Interviews and feedback

  • If we invite you to the next round of the application process, we will ask you to attend an interview. The project leader or project representative must attend this interview. 
  • If selected for an interview, we will share the information you have provided with the judges.
  • The Rethink Ireland Board of Directors will choose the winning applications. They will decide based on the recommendations from the panel of judges. The Directors’ decision will be final.
  • The Equality Fund Manager may offer general verbal feedback to unsuccessful applicants who have reached the interview stage.

Further Questions?

We have filmed a recent Equality Fund Webinar which we hope covers everything you need to know about the fund and how to apply. You can view it HERE.

Terms and conditions of the Equality Fund

By applying for the Equality Fund, you agree with the following:

  • You are 18 years of age or older.
  • You have given full and truthful information, both verbal and written, at all stages of the application and selection process.
  • You are eligible to apply. This means that your organisation meets the criteria for the Rethink Ireland and the Equality Fund, as described earlier.
  • You have the right to apply. This means that you hold the necessary rights to carry out the project.
  • If you are successful you must take part in publicity about the grant. Rethink Ireland reserves the right to publish the names of organisations that are successful in their applications.
  • By sending in your application, you accept these terms and conditions and our Privacy Statement. If you do not comply with these terms and conditions, you may be disqualified and may have to return any award granted.
  • Rethink Ireland will hold the personal details which you submitted with your application form. We will only share this information with the third parties administering the application and selection process unless we agree otherwise with you. Please see our Privacy Statement for full details.
  • If you decline an award or if the award is taken back because you did not comply with the terms and conditions, the Directors may select an alternative Awardee.
  • Rethink Ireland reserves the right to disqualify any entrant, to change the terms and conditions without notice, or to cancel the application process at any stage.

Need more information?

Contact the Equality Fund Team at