Closed Fund

Scaling Education Fund 2022 – 2024

The Fund seeks to support the growth of previous Rethink Ireland awardees and guide the scaling of their projects to have a significant impact on the social issue of educational disadvantage.

Impact on Education Fund

The Scaling Education Fund was set up to advance previous Rethink Ireland Awardees’ proven learner-centered solutions. The Fund seeks to support the growth of our previous awardees’ individual solutions while also creating a community of practice to have a significant impact on the social issue of educational disadvantage. 

The Fund is looking to support proven educational projects on their growth journey. These projects will; 

  • Work with those experiencing educational disadvantage 
  • Involve stakeholders in the design, delivery, and evaluation of the project
  • Employ a learner-centered approach to delivery, including where possible a holistic, community-based approach. 
  • Have the ambition to address educational disadvantages through a systems change agenda. Ideally, work in collaboration with other actors to advance this agenda.

For Rethink Ireland educational disadvantage encompasses low socioeconomic status, members of minority groups, those with a disability, and those experiencing mental health issues. 

Why focus on educational disadvantage? 

Education is widely considered to be the greatest equalizer in society. However, this assumes all learners are equal and fails to account for the additional challenges and social factors that result in many learners experiencing educational disadvantage. Children and young people’s life chances remain disproportionately affected by their families’ social and financial positions. Students from low socioeconomic backgrounds attain different educational outcomes than those from more affluent backgrounds. They are also at higher risk of leaving school early which results in reduced life chances, challenges with mental health and wellbeing, as well as being more likely to be un- or under-employed. 

Since 2017 Rethink Ireland has placed significant investment in addressing educational disadvantage supporting over 100 projects in the last five years. Through our partnership with UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at the National University of Galway, we have identified a number of success factors in delivering education to groups experiencing disadvantage including the importance of Alternative Education provision, both informal and nonformal, and the importance of providing a level of well-being and person-centered approaches to tuition. 

The aim of the Scaling Education Fund is to move the dial on educational disadvantage as a whole by enabling greater participation in education, supporting learners to develop 21st-century skills, supporting learners to become leaders in their community, and advancing an equity approach to education. 

** Please note this Fund is only open to previous Rethink Ireland Awardees.


Who can apply?

Eligibility criteria 

Applicants must

  • Be a previous recipient of Rethink Ireland funding 
  • Have graduated from a Rethink Ireland programme or have completed at least 1 year of a multi-year Fund
  • Have received a Rethink Ireland cash grant investment of at least €50k in one year.
  • Have a detailed strategic/business plan, with clear objectives and strong financial projections. 

Rethink Ireland’s Core Criteria

  • The project must address a critical social issue 
  • The project proposed must be innovative in an Irish context
  • The project must be based on the island of Ireland and must make its main impact in the Republic of Ireland
  • 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
  • Applicants must come from an entity that has a not-for-profit legal form, eg: 
    • A company limited by guarantee 
    • A co-operative  
    • Charity 
    • And other not for profit legal forms

The Scaling Education Fund Core Criteria 

  • Work with those experiencing educational disadvantage
  • Have the ambition to address educational disadvantage in a significant way
  • Provide a learner-centered solution for example the combination of educational and wellbeing supports to advance the personal development of learners
  • Have the ambition to address educational disadvantage in a significant way
  • Provide a combination of educational and well-being supports to advance the personal development of learners
  • Applicants must have a proven track record of scaling (scale deep, scale out, scale up) and must be able to demonstrate ambition and feasibility of growing beyond this state
  • Applicants must clearly be able to demonstrate what they have achieved to date and  their strategy to build on this success to create a significant and sustainable impact on educational disadvantage as a social issue
  • Secure philanthropic funding of a minimum of €100,000 per year, for three years

Advantageous Criteria

  • Applications from a consortium of awardee organisations will be considered advantageous
  • Applications that involve learners/target groups in leadership roles or in the design of the project 

What does the fund offer?

  • A minimum 50% uplift on funding secured* 
  • A tailored non-financial supports package to aid in the development of the project 
  • A community of practice of awardees 
  • Portfolio management 

*A minimum value of €100,000 in philanthropic funding per year, for 3 years is required for applications. 

The final decision on the amount of funding matched by Rethink Ireland will be determined by Rethink Ireland’s Board.

Applications should include:

  • Strategic/Business Plan for the project, including financial projections for 3 years 
  • Donor letters for the value of philanthropic funding secured 
  • Memorandum of Understanding (when submitting a joint application) 
  • Latest annual accounts 
  • Any evaluations or impact data verifications available