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Limerick projects sought for €650,000 Ignite Midwest Fund 



Ignite Midwest Fund – Minister of State for Community Development and Charities Joe O’Brien TD and Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland pictured above launching the new €650,000 Ignite Midwest Fund. Picture: Marc O’Sullivan.

Limerick projects sought for €650,000 Ignite Midwest Fund 

 A new €650,000 social innovation fund has been launched today by Rethink Ireland for innovative projects in Clare, Limerick, and Tipperary that empower communities, tackle poverty, and promote social inclusion. The Ignite Midwest Fund, the first of its kind specifically for the Midwest, has been created by Rethink Ireland 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. There will be a minimum of five awardees with the fund now open for applications until 29th March 2021. 

The Ignite Midwest Fund is the latest social innovation fund created by Rethink Ireland (formerly Social Innovation Fund Ireland), which has launched over 30 funds in the past five years totaling over €65 million. 


Speaking to mark the launch of the Ignite Midwest Fund, Minister of State for Community Development and Charities Joe O’Brien TD said: “The objective of the Ignite Fund is to spark meaningful social impact in the Midwest of Ireland by providing support to some of the region’s most innovative not-for-profit organisations including charities, community groups, and social enterprises. I am delighted to launch the Fund, which is supported by my Department and several private donors. We are all united in the belief and potential of community development and social inclusion initiatives in tackling poverty and social exclusion.” 

Ignite Midwest, Rethink Ireland’s second regional fund is open to projects based in Clare, Limerick or Tipperary, or national organisations with a Midwest branch or focus. Projects must focus on tackling inequality, poverty, and/or social exclusion, or on empowering their communities. There will be up to seven awards in total, two of which will be specifically for projects using music as a means of enhancing wellbeing and promoting social inclusion in the region. 

Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland, said: “In 2019, we ran a nationwide €550,000 Ignite Fund which awarded six innovative projects spread all over the country. This year, with the support of our donors, we are able to focus our efforts with a fund of €650,000 specifically in counties Clare, Limerick, and Tipperary — counties that are feeling the challenge of the rural-urban divide and where inequalities have only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Social innovation is vital to change this and to create a more inclusive society. 

“We thank the Department of Rural and Community Development and the local philanthropists for their belief and support. I encourage those fitting the criteria to apply and we look forward to working with the awardees and supporting their life-changing projects.” 

Awardees will receive a package of supports to the value of between €55,000 and €75,000 each. The blended support package includes a cash grant, business and capacity building supports, and access to the Rethink Ireland Accelerator Programme. 

Ralph Parkes, whose family is one of several in the region making a philanthropic donation to the Fund said, “The Ignite Midwest Fund presents an opportunity to tackle poverty and empower communities through the exceptional and innovative community groups that exist across counties Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary. The Parkes Family are delighted to support this financially as we believe in the power of philanthropy, the power of community and we are dedicated to giving in more meaningful ways. We hope to see local projects emerge that are working with those experiencing socio-economic disadvantage or isolation, and apply to be part of this 2021 funding initiative.” 

Awardees of the 2019-2020 Ignite Fund included Northside Family Resource Centre in Ballynanty, Limerick City, whose ‘Community and Family Services’ project addresses the impact of trauma as a result of living in deprivation and poverty for children and their parents; and The Shona Project’s ‘Online Community’, an interactive platform designed to educate, empower and inspire young Irish girls. 

For further details on the Ignite Midwest Fund and to apply go HERE 

For more stories on funding go HERE

About Rethink Ireland 

  Rethink Ireland is a national organisation supporting innovative charities, social enterprises, and community organisations with cash grants and business supports. Every euro raised in philanthropy is matched by the Irish Government via the Dormant Accounts Fund. Since their first year of operations in 2016, they have created a €65 million social innovation fund. They have partnered with companies, trusts, foundations, families, and individuals to create 30 funds tackling issues such as inequality and educational disadvantage to support over 200 social innovations. These innovations have reached 300,000 people and enabled 864 people experiencing disadvantage to progress into employment. 

  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 innovation here can be tried and tested 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 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. 

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.