SOLAS calls on Limerick education providers to apply for Educational Disadvantage Fund

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD

COMMUNITY education providers in Limerick are being given the opportunity to apply for funding for eligible projects under the €10 million Mitigating against Educational Disadvantage Fund 2021.

The Fund opened for applications on Friday, 30th July 2021.

The Fund was announced, by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and is administered by SOLAS, the further education and training authority and the sixteen local Education and Training Boards.

The aim of the Fund is to support community education for adult learners in Limerick and across Ireland, who have the highest level of need, with a strong focus on building the digital infrastructure of community education providers to increase the capacity to deliver online learning.

The latest phase of the Fund is seeking to support projects under three main categories:

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-Digital Technologies, where the supply of devices is considered a barrier to learning;

-Learner Assistance, to help, for example, with the cost of books and materials, childcare and essential travel;

-Reach-out and/or Mentoring, for awareness-raising and promoting re-engagement.

In 2020, over 500 community education projects were funded through the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs). Around the country, the projects helped to support online learning, connect communities and provide social supports to the most vulnerable groups.

Commenting on the announcement, Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, said: “As we move towards a wider return to on-site learning from September, it is critically important that we re-engage with learners and encourage others to take up further education and training opportunities. We are calling on community education providers in Limerick to apply for funding through a new phase of the Mitigating against Educational Disadvantage Fund. ”

“Through the Fund, we are supporting those in society who are furthest removed from education through social disadvantage. We are also supporting community education providers to continue delivering their much-needed services, and to ensure that all sectors of society are remaining connected and supported to continue their learning journeys.”

Paddy Lavelle, General Secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) welcomed the announcement of the 2021 Fund, commenting: “Education and Training Boards deliver whole of life education and training for all, including to our most disadvantaged learners. This fund will enable ETBs and our community education partners to provide disadvantaged learners with the technology, financial supports and mentoring they need to engage or re-engage in further education and training. I would encourage all ETBs and Community Education providers to get the application process underway.”

Funding applications from community education providers can be made by completing a funding application which is available from the adult education officers in your local Education and Training Board. For further information, including the September closing date for your local ETB, contact your Education & Training Board here.