15 May 2023

€5 Million in Funding Announced for Community Education through Reach Fund 2023

Community Education providers - call for applications for funding from the Reach Fund

€5 million in funding has been announced by Minister Simon Harris TD, to help adult learners to learn in their local communities through community education. This funding is being issued through the Reach Fund and Education and Training Boards across Ireland.

Formerly the Mitigating Against Educational Disadvantage Fund (MAEDF), the Reach Fund is available for eligible projects that support people who might face barriers to accessing, and participating in, adult and community education across Ireland.

The first iteration of the Reach Fund was launched by the Minister Harris in 2020. The MAED Fund, as it was known, was initially used primarily for IT supports for learners, particularly during the pandemic. An additional €6.85 million in MAED Funding was announced by Minister Harris in December 2021, when the Minister stated that the fund would be a “regular feature of our education system.”

Now, through the new Reach Fund, community education providers can apply for funding across several categories. According to SOLAS, the priority is to provide support to the most vulnerable groups in our society, including the long-term unemployed, young people, people with disabilities, members of the Traveller and Roma communities, migrants and refugees, women wishing to return to the labour market, and lone parents.

Our CEO Dearbháil Lawless welcomed this latest iteration of the Reach Fund from DFHERIS. Speaking about the announcement this morning, Dearbháil said:

“In partnership with colleagues across the adult and community education sector, we advocated for this fund, specifically aimed at community education. To date, it has made a real difference for local people across the country. We hope providers will continue to apply for this fund and ensure it reaches the most marginalised people in Irish society. Community education groups provide a safe and inclusive space for a wide diversity of adult learners.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the Education and Training Boards for their work. Many ETBs have gone above and beyond to make this happen. I encourage them to promote the fund widely and continue building on their previous success. It is a fantastic opportunity for new partnerships and the strengthening of collaboration across the sector. We all want to support and encourage learners and this fund should reach people in every community.”

Deadlines for the Reach Fund may vary across the country. For up-to-date information on the Reach Fund in your area, please contact your local ETB.