Open Fund

Ignite Midwest Fund 2021

Closing Date
In partnership with:

Sparking meaningful impact in Ireland’s midwest by supporting innovative organisations serving the counties of Clare, Limerick, and Tipperary.

In Ireland, inequalities exist between different regions of the country and also within regions. While people in some parts of the country are feeling the challenge of the rural-urban divide, poverty and deprivation also persists in many urban areas. Over the past year, inequalities have only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. We believe that Ireland should be an inclusive and equal place, no matter where you live, and that social innovation is vital to making this happen.

This is why we created the Ignite Midwest Fund, Rethink Ireland’s second regional fund. ‘Ignite’ means to ‘spark’ or ‘set in motion’ and this €650,000 Fund aims to spark meaningful social impact in the counties of Clare, Limerick and Tipperary. The Fund has been created in partnership with several private donors from the region including the Parkes family Limerick, the Community Foundation for Ireland, and is matched by the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund.

Minister of State for Community Development and Charities, Joe O’Brien TD and Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland, launch the new €650,000 Ignite Midwest Fund which is open to projects in Clare, Limerick and Tipperary that empower communities, tackle poverty, and promote social inclusion. Pic: Marc O'Sullivan.

How Does it Work?

The Ignite Midwest Fund will provide a package of awards and supports to innovative not-for-profit organisations that are working to empower communities, tackle inequality, poverty, or social exclusion; and/or promote recovery and prevention in the counties of Clare, Limerick, and Tipperary.

This one-year Fund is open to community groups, charities, or social enterprises that support children, young people, or adults who are experiencing poverty, socio-economic disadvantage, or geographic isolation. Two awards will specifically be for projects that are using music as a means of promoting social inclusion and/or wellbeing in the region.

What does the Fund offer?

The Fund offers a package of cash grants and non-financial supports to the value of between €55,000 and €75,000* for up to seven projects, to help them expand and increase their social impact. 

This includes:

  • Up to two awards of up to €55,000 for projects that are using music as a means of promoting social inclusion. This includes a cash grant of up to €44,000.
  • Up to five awards of up to €75,000 for other successful projects. This includes a cash grant of up to €60,000. 
  • The  non-financial supports will include:
    • a place on Rethink Ireland’s Accelerator Programme
    • bespoke business and capacity building supports designed in consultation with the successful projects on topics such as strategic planning, maximising your impact, communications, storytelling and fundraising.
  • Access to Rethink Ireland’s networks.

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

Who can apply?

We invite applications from organisations or projects within organisations, that:

  • support people who are marginalised or are experiencing poverty, disadvantage, or geographic isolation
  • have a sustained impact in the counties of Clare, Limerick or Tipperary. Projects should either have their main base in one of these counties, or be part of an organisation with a branch or particular focus and impact in one or more of these counties. 

We particularly welcome projects that are focusing on one or more of the following:

  • tackling poverty, inequality, and/or social exclusion
  • empowering communities to speak and act for themselves
  • promoting recovery or prevention
  • using music as a means to promote social inclusion and/or wellbeing. 

To be eligible, applicants must satisfy the following compulsory criteria:

Rethink Ireland Compulsory Criteria

  • The project must address a critical social issue, in this case poverty, inequality, socio-economic disadvantage, or geographic isolation.
  • The project must be innovative in an Irish context*.
  • The project must be based on the island of Ireland and make its main impact in the Republic of Ireland (for this Fund projects must be based in Co. Tipperary, Co. Limerick, or Co. Clare, or operate under a national organisation with a midwest branch or focus).
  • 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.
  • Applicants must come from an entity that has a not-for-profit legal form, eg:
    • company limited by guarantee
    • charity
    • co-operative
    • social enterprise 
    • volunteer organisation
    • other not-for-profit legal forms

*In the context of The Ignite Midwest Fund, innovation does not have to mean new. The innovations can be existing projects which tackle inequality, poverty, or social exclusion in creative, different, and dynamic ways. 

Ignite Midwest Fund Compulsory Criteria

  • Projects must be based in Co. Tipperary, Co. Limerick or Co. Clare, or operate within a national organisation with a branch or focus in one or more of these counties.
  • Projects/organisations must ring-fence the funding and supports for their work in one or more of the three counties only. 
  • Projects must be working with communities and groups experiencing socio-economic disadvantage or geographic isolation.
  • Projects must focus on one or more of the following: tackling inequality, poverty and/or social exclusion; on promoting recovery or prevention, or on empowering their communities.
  • A project wishing to apply for one of the two awards for using music as a means of promoting social inclusion and/or wellbeing must be able to show a substantial impact on participants*. 

* Music related projects can focus on intervention or prevention. This may include therapeutic use, intellectual or personal development, or community development approaches. Projects that offer only one-off interventions or that focus solely on improving musical ability or performance will not qualify. 

Advantageous Criteria

  • Projects that have a direct and sustained impact on the midwest region.
  • Projects which work to enhance leadership and self-empowerment among marginalised communities. 
  • Projects that promote and employ community development approaches.
  • Projects which have a demonstrable commitment to equality and human rights for all.

How do we apply?

Complete the online application form by 5:00 pm on Monday, 29th March 2021. To complete your application form online, you will need to upload documents including a budget and your financial statements. More information is provided in the application form.

To start your application now, enter the Application Portal. 

To help with any questions you might have on applying to the Fund, we are running a lunchtime Information Webinar on Friday, 5th March. Register via Eventbrite for the webinar HERE.


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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which projects cannot apply?

  • 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 led by people under 18 years of age
  • Projects/organisations which will not have an impact in the counties of Clare, Limerick or Tipperary (national organisations can apply but the funding must be ring-fenced for use in one or more of the three counties).

Who is not eligible to apply?

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

What happens after we submit our application?

  1. Applications will go through a rigorous selection process (for more information see below).
  2. Interviews will take place online in May and successful applicants will be informed by the end of June 2021.
  3. The cash grants will be delivered in two parts – one at the beginning and one at the end of the Accelerator and are tied to agreed performance milestones. 
  4. The Accelerator Programme will run for six months from late August/early September 2021.
  5. The Accelerator supports will be designed in consultation with the awardees and reflect organisational/project needs. 
  6. The Fund will close in early 2022.

Can you make more than one application?

Yes, there is nothing stopping your organisation from making more than one application for separate projects. However, due to the competitive nature of this Fund and its selection process, it is very unlikely that we will fund more than one project from any organisation. We encourage organisations to submit one strong application rather than multiple applications.

What is the selection process?

  • Stage 1 – Open call for applications (15 February to 29 March 2021 inclusive)
  • Stage 2 – Selection process including internal and external review and shortlisting of applications (April and May 2021)
  • Stage 3 – Interviews (May 2021)
  • Stage 4 – Final checks on short-listed applicants (May/June 2021)
  • Stage 5 – Final decision by the end of June 2021.

What can cash grants be spent on?

The cash grant must be spent on the project that won the award. The specific use of the cash grant will be agreed upon between Rethink Ireland and the Awardee. Cash grants may not be used to pay off debts or purchase vehicles, land or buildings.

What is expected of Awardees?

Awardees will be expected to take part in a six-month Accelerator Programme, with a minimum of two days per week devoted to working on your awarded project.

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

We will contact all applicants by phone or email after final decisions have been made.

Terms and Conditions of the Ignite Midwest Fund

By applying for the Ignite Midwest 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 Ignite Midwest 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.

Where relevant, applicant organisations must be fully compliant with guidelines, regulations and legislation applicable to their project, for instance, Children First guidelines and child protection regulations.

Any further questions?

We are hosting an Information Webinar on the Fund, on Friday 5th March from 1 – 2 pm. Register to attend this free event HERE.

Alternatively, please email the team at: