€500,000 is being allocated to groups across the island of Ireland in year four of the Begin Together fund, delivered in partnership with the Community Foundation Ireland. This will bring the total value of grants issued via the Community Fund to €2 Million since 2020.
Groups working to support community enterprise and innovation, and financial and mental wellbeing are among 20 community projects receiving financial support from Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together programme in 2023. Initiatives will receive up to €45,000 each for projects spanning financial literacy and wellbeing, mental health, inclusion and diversity.
The funding allocated to applicants has increased from between €4,000 and €6,000 previously to grants now ranging between €15,000 and €45,000. The grants are being distributed to a smaller number of groups, with the intention of providing substantial supports that will drive real impact.
The Community Fund is one strand of a wider commitment to support society which has seen €4.8M awarded to various community groups, social enterprises and arts projects across the island of Ireland.
Aine McCleary, Chief Customer Officer, Bank of Ireland, said: “Since the fund was opened in 2020, Begin Together has provided financial supports to a broad range of community groups, charities, and social enterprises across the Island of Ireland. And we are immensely proud to do so. The work that they do unites local communities, who are working together to drive positive outcomes.
“Supporting social enterprises is an important focus for the Begin Together Fund this year. Citywise Education, who have been awarded a grant in our Community Enterprise and Innovation category, is a fitting example of an effective social enterprise in action. The group has been part of the fabric of the community in West Tallaght for over 30 years, providing learning opportunities that equip the community for future study or employment.
“The Citywise Means Business programme places real emphasis on educating and empowering people to take control of their own financial wellbeing, which we know can have a transformative impact on people’s lives. We wish them, and all the successful grantees well as they embark on their community programmes”.
Over the last three years, the Citywise Means Business programme has received significant support through the Begin Together Fund to deliver this programme. The project supports young people with educational resources to assist in improving their financial wellbeing and managing their finances. This year Citywise Means Business plans to include a pilot third-level aspect of the programme, with an emphasis on life-long learning and will support 300 students this year including 150 primary school students, 120 secondary and 30 third level students this year.
Daire Hennessy, CEO, Citywise Education said: “The support of the begin together fund will help Citywise to improve financial literacy among young people, but it will also support us to open up opportunities for our members to explore studying and working in professions such as business, banking and entrepreneurship.
“Importantly, from an early age it will help young people in our community to see themselves in careers which traditionally may not have been open to them. The growth of this programme would not be possible without the generous support of this fund.”
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of Community Foundation Ireland, added: “The Bank of Ireland Community Fund is transforming lives, often when people are experiencing greatest need. We believe in equality for all in thriving communities. It is an ambitious goal but one, which through initiatives like the Community Fund, is achievable.
“The impact we have seen since the fund was first established has been extraordinary. Community Foundation Ireland values its partnership with Bank of Ireland and looks forward to working together into the future for the betterment of all our communities.”
A full list of 2023 grantees is available here: /begintogether
Pictured at Citywise Education, Jobstown is Aine McCleary, Chief Customer Officer Bank of Ireland, along with Citywise Education CEO, Daire Hennessy, and students Andreia Vwadiae and Zuriel Chucks, taking a break from study at the Centre.