SOLAS has announced €5.5 million in funding available for community education providers through the Reach Fund, formerly the Mitigating Against Educational Disadvantage Fund (MAEDF). The fund is available for eligible projects, to support adult learners who might face barriers to accessing and participating in education and lifelong learning.
Speaking about the announcement of the fund, AONTAS CEO Dearbháil Lawless said:
“I strongly encourage groups to apply for this fund. It can do so much: cover the cost of bills for disadvantaged learners, pay for internet access, help with transport costs, purchase technology or software equipment, as well as be used for creative projects in outreach, recruitment and sustainable development. We encourage community education providers to apply to gain supports for learners and showcase the value and impact of community education.”
The first iteration of the Reach Fund was launched by the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD 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.”
Dearbháil Lawless stated that AONTAS has been “advocating for community education funding for many years and we will continue to advocate for this and other changes that are needed.”
Funding will be administered to community education groups who apply through the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) across Ireland.
SOLAS and the network of ETBs are now inviting Community Education providers to apply for funding through the 2022 Reach Fund.
Applications can be made by Community Education groups by completing a funding application available through Adult Education Providers in your local ETB.
Learn more about the Reach Fund through the SOLAS website.
AONTAS will continue to provide information and support for our members.
We are holding a members webinar tomorrow morning, Wednesday 20th July, where further information on the Reach Fund will be shared. Click here to register.