Closed Fund

The Disability Participation and Awareness Fund 2024

Closing Date
05/04/2024
From L to R are, Anne Corr, Chief Operations Officer of SOS Kilkenny, AlanJames Burns, Project Initiator, Disrupt Disability Arts Festival, Deirdre Mortell, Chief Executive Officer, Rethink Ireland, Anne Rabbitte, Minister of State at the Department of Health and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Colin Maher, Project Lead for Cumas Design, Marina Kennedy-Quick, Service Coordinator, No Barriers Foundation, and Neasa Russell, Sports Director, Paralympics Ireland, pictured at the announcement of the 2024 Disability Participation and Awareness Fund. Photo: Damien Eagers

If you would like to access an Easy Read version of these Fund Guidelines, please click HERE.

What is The Disability Participation and Awareness Fund 2024?

Funding announced by Rethink Ireland and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is set to accelerate access and skills-building for people with disabilities, with a €3.5 million injection of funding for the sector to support projects.

Five high-performing projects that applied under the 2023 application process were awarded a share of €1.1 million. These include Project Arts Centre, SOS Kilkenny, Cumas New Ross, Paralympics Ireland, and No Barriers Foundation. Up 10 new projects will be eligible to share in funding worth a total of €2.4m available through application for the funding below.

The 2024 Disability Participation and Awareness Fund is now open for applications from change-making non-profit organisations focused on supporting people with disabilities to participate in community life. This includes social, cultural, arts and sports participation, as well as promoting disability awareness and training at a local level, and supporting pathways for young people transitioning through education.

The goal of the Disability Participation and Awareness Fund 2024 is to support innovative projects or organisations across Ireland to: 

  1. Enhance community, social, cultural and physical participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of community life, 
  2. Promote disability awareness and training for people with disabilities at the local level, and
  3. Promote innovation in supports and pathways for teenagers transitioning from secondary school through the use of innovative and meaningful services, products or programmes.

The Fund offers a package of cash grants and non-financial supports to the value of €200,000* for up to 10 projects, to help them expand and increase their social impact.

This includes:

  • Up to 10 awards of up to €200,000*
  • 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.

You can apply to The Disability Participation and Awareness Fund 2024 via the online portal from 26th February to 5th April 2024.

If you would like to access an Easy Read version of these Fund Guidelines, please click HERE.

Please join us for our application clinics to find out more and answer any questions that you have. The application clinics will be held on:

Deadline for applications: Friday, April 05th at 1:00 pm

Who Can Apply?

This fund is open to organisations that have a not-for-profit legal form, e.g. a company limited by guarantee, a co-operative, a trust, a charity, and other voluntary organisations that meet the following criteria:

Eligibility & Criteria

Projects must meet both Rethink Ireland’s criteria and the specific criteria for The Disability Participation and Awareness Fund 2024, as set out below:

Rethink Ireland Criteria 

  • The project must address a critical social or environmental issue
  • The project must be innovative in an Irish context
  • The project must be based in Ireland and make its main impact in the Republic of Ireland
  • The project must have the potential and 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, e.g. a company limited by guarantee, a co-operative, a trust, or a charity.

The Disability Participation and Awareness Fund 2024

Core Criteria 

The fund has three strands. All three strands will support projects/organisations working directly with people with disabilities. Each strand has a different focus and different application criteria, in addition to the Fund core criteria. To be successful in any of the three strands, the project/organisation must meet the following requirements  in addition to the strand-specific criteria:

  • Project activities must be in addition to the usual business of the applicant organisation and should complement, but not duplicate, existing activities. 
  • Applications must align with at least one of the strands outlined to be eligible for funding under Disability Participation and Awareness Fund 2024. 
  • Applications will be evaluated based on how well the planned outcomes meet the goals of Disability Participation and Awareness Fund 2024, the strength of the proposal and value for money.

Strand 1: Supporting community, social, cultural and physical participation that improve and encourage the accessibility of, and participation in, community life for persons with disabilities. To be successful in this strand, the project/organisation must be:

  • Working to provide increased opportunities for:
    • fostering community participation and/or
    • working to provide Increased opportunities for participation in arts and cultural activities, including arts/cultural activities that foster awareness of the lived experiences of people with disabilities and /or
    • the promotion of accessibility and 
    • fostering physical participation 
  • Working to foster the awareness of the lived experiences of people with disabilities

Strand 2: Promoting disability awareness and training: Funding projects/organisations that initiate disability awareness capacity building and training at local level in communities, i.e. carrying out awareness training, supporting disability champions, engaging with Disabled Person’s Organisations. To be successful in this strand, the project/organisation must be:

  • Implementing disability awareness capacity building and training at the local level in communities, and/or 
  • Supporting disability advocates and engaging with Disabled Person’s Organisations, and/or
  • Working to foster the awareness of the lived experiences of people with disabilities.

Strand 3: Promoting innovation in supports and pathways for teenagers transitioning from secondary school through the use of innovative and meaningful services, products or programmes. To be successful in this strand, the project/organisation must be:

  • Providing innovative and meaningful services, products, or programmes that support teenagers with disabilities transitioning from secondary school, and/or 
  • Working to foster the awareness of the lived experiences of people with disabilities

Advantageous criteria (not required)

  • Multiple Impairments: Project/Organisations that focus on addressing the needs of people with multiple impairments or multiple types of disability
  • Technology: Project/Organisations that use innovative technology, including assistive technology,  to enhance the lives of people with disabilities 
  • Leadership representation: Projects/Organisations that are led by persons with disability

Accessibility

If you would like to access an Easy Read version of these Fund Guidelines, please click 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 disabilityfund2@rethinkireland.ie 

When are the online help sessions if I have any questions I need answered? 

Please join us for our fund application outline and help sessions on Tuesday 12th and/or  Thursday 20th March from 1-2 pm, to find out more and answer any questions that you have.

  • Register for a fund application outline and help session on Tuesday, 12 March 1 pm HERE
  • Register for a fund application outline and help session on Wednesday, 20 March 1 pm HERE

Which projects cannot apply?

Projects that are not eligible to apply are:

  • Projects where research is the primary activity
  • Projects seeking funding for capital assets (such as buildings, vans or equipment)
  • Projects promoting or aligned with a political party
  • Projects that only accept participants of a particular faith or religious denomination
  • Projects focused on animal welfare 
  • Projects based outside the Republic of Ireland
  • Projects led by people under 18 years of age
  • Projects that are an idea (only) and that have not yet started

Which applicants cannot apply?

Applicants that are not eligible to apply are:

  • Applicants under 18 years of age
  • Commercial companies, sole traders and individuals
  • Any staff member from Rethink Ireland and their family members. Family members include siblings, parents, spouses or civil partners or children.
  • Individuals
  • Statutory or public bodies, companies limited by shares and organisations that are funded 100% by state bodies or agencies (and continue to be in receipt of that funding), that are not registered charities
  • Any consultant currently working with Rethink Ireland

If my organisation has previously been in receipt of an award from Rethink Ireland, can I still apply?

Yes. If you have previously been funded by Rethink Ireland, you can still apply. Previous awardees must be able to demonstrate they have performed well on a previous programme and capture in the application form how the new funding being applied for is a logical continuation from the original investment, fitting the new Fund criteria in particular.

If my organisation/project is currently in receipt of an award from Rethink Ireland, can I still apply?

Projects on one of our Funds that have cash grant payments remaining before the commencement of the new fund programme are not eligible to apply. 

Organisations on one of our Funds that have cash grant payments remaining before the commencement of the new fund programme are still eligible to apply with a different project and different project lead.

Is this just for large-scale, national organisations?

No, it is not, and indeed we welcome applications from organisations of all sizes once it is a not-for-profit organisation with a legal form (see criteria above).

Can I apply for this funding even though I am still at the ideation stage? 

Unfortunately, no, this fund needs to see proof that the project is up and running or at least has been tested and shown results in some way.

Can organisations make multiple applications? 

Yes, there is nothing stopping your organisation from making more than one application for separate projects. However, you must note that applicants can apply for one strand only per project with a different person leading the second project. 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.

If my organisation is funded by a Government/state agency (HSE, TULSA etc) are we eligible? 

Yes, you can apply if you are in receipt of funding from a government or state agency. However, if your organisation is 100% funded through state sources then you are not eligible to apply to the Fund.

Is it possible for organisations to collaborate in an application (e.g. a community development organisation and an educational provider)?

They can, but one organisation is required to take the lead. Please note that if your application is successful, the lead applicant will be required to sign a contract and fulfill all legal obligations associated with the project’s performance. Please always refer to the eligibility criteria to ensure your project is eligible for funding.

Any further questions?

You can contact the fund team at disabilityfund2@rethinkireland.ie if you would like more information.

What does the Fund offer?

What does the Fund offer?

  • cash grants ranging from €50,000 to €200,000 during the year, across six months
  • a business supports package
  • a place on our capacity-building accelerator programme
  • project performance management

What can cash grants be spent on? 

The cash grant must be spent on the project that won the award and must be ring-fenced for the work you are undertaking. The specific use of the cash grant will be agreed between Rethink Ireland and the Awardee.

The funding may be used to cover operations/staff costs, but you must be able to demonstrate in your application how this is facilitating you to run the project that you are applying for. Cash grants may not be used to pay off debts or for capital items such as renovations, or for vehicles, land, buildings or large equipment. 

What non-financial supports will be provided to successful applicants?

Rethink Ireland’s non-financial supports have been called our ‘secret sauce’ that helps projects to really develop their capacity and sustainability, in addition to the benefit of the cash supports. Non-financial supports will include:

  1. Each Awardee’s project lead and potentially other relevant staff will take part in the Fund’s Accelerator Programme The Accelerator programme will consist of a series of interactive training workshops on topics such as strategy development, measuring and maximising your impact, communications and storytelling, diversity and inclusion and fundraising.
  2. Awardees will also get some bespoke 1:1 business and capacity-building supports from expert business/non-profit consultants in areas such as impact management, theory of change and strategy development. Supports will be designed in consultation with the successful projects.
  3. Awardees will also get access to Rethink Ireland’s networks and have the opportunity to develop networks and contacts with the other Awardees of the Fund, which are often very valuable in the longer term.

What is expected of Awardees?

The project lead will be expected to take part in the six-month Accelerator Programme, which includes attending approximately six workshops and spending time working 1:1 with a business/strategy consultant. Project leads will be expected to spend a minimum of two days per week working on the awarded project and working towards agreed goals.

How do we apply?

What is involved in completing the application form?

The application form asks you for information about:

  • your project and organisation
  • the problem your project tackles
  • what makes your project different from others
  • who it benefits
  • how your project meets the fund conditions
  • how you test or evaluate how well your project is doing 
  • referees
  • other details
  • It also asks you to send us financial documents (listed below) and a short video about your project (this is optional). 

What kind of video do we need to submit? (Optional)

Including a video is optional. Don’t worry – you don’t need to produce a high-quality or expensive video. You can use a smartphone or tablet. We just want to hear you telling the story of your project in 2 – 3 mins max. Please tell us:  

  • who you are
  • why you are applying for the award
  • the problem/issue your project is trying to solve
  • how you will do that 
  • how your solution is innovative or creative. 

You can then upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo and insert the URL link in the application form.

What financial information do we need to submit with our application?

  1. The documents you need to complete depend on whether you are applying in relation to a project within an organisation or you are applying as an organisation as a whole:
    • If applying for a project within a larger organisation, the project’s management accounts and the organisation’s most recent audited/full accounts are needed.
    • If applying for an organisation as a whole, the most recent audited/full accounts are needed.
  2. All applicants must outline how they intend to use the funds from Rethink Ireland if successful and upload a proposed budget. A spreadsheet template is provided in the relevant section of the application form.

How do we upload our project budget (planned income and expenditure)?

In the relevant section of the application form, you will be provided with a link to a budget template in Excel. Please click on the link provided and DOWNLOAD this document to your computer. Then fill in your financial information and save the document with your project’s name, then upload it in the relevant section of the application form. 

Accessibility

If you would like to access an Easy Read version of these Fund Guidelines, please click 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 disabilityfund2@rethinkireland.ie

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  (Mid May 2024) (if you are invited to an interview you will be informed in (Early May 2024 )
  3. Successful applicants will be informed in Mid May  (Mid May 2024)
  4. 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. 
  5. The Accelerator Programme will run for approx six months from (August 2024- Jan 2025)
  6. The Accelerator supports will be designed in consultation with the awardees and reflect organisational/project needs. 
  7. The Fund will close in (February 2025)

How does the selection process work?

The selection process is very rigorous and consists of a number of stages:

  • Stage 1 – Open call for applications (26th February 2024- 05th April 1pm 2024
  • Stage 2 – Internal and external reviews of all applications (08th April – 26th)
  • Stage 3 – Interviews for shortlisted applicants (Mid May 2024)
  • Stage 4 – Due Diligence/Governance checks on short-listed applicants.
  • Stage 5 – Final decision by Rethink Ireland board (June/July)

Who will decide who wins the awards?

All applications will be reviewed thoroughly through a rigorous process. The Board of Rethink Ireland will make the final decision on successful applicants and the number and value of the final awards given.

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

We will contact all applicants by email to let them know whether or not they have been shortlisted and invited to interview.  Interviews will be conducted via online video link. When final decisions have been made on the successful applicants, we will contact all shortlisted applicants by phone or email to let them know whether they have been successful.

Terms and Conditions of the Fund

By applying for The Disability Participation and Awareness Fund 2024, you agree to the following terms and conditions.

  • 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.
  • Awardees (successful Applicants) agree to take part in publicity about the grant. Rethink Ireland reserves the right to publish the names of organisations that are successful in their applications.
  • If you decline an award or if the award is rescinded because you did not comply with the terms and conditions, the Board of 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.

Should you require further information, please contact disabilityfund2@rethinkireland.ie