Atlantic Philanthropies, which makes charitable donations on behalf of its founder Chuck Feeney, has granted €14.85 million to State agency Pobal to fight poverty among young children.
It is understood that Pobal, an agency that administers about €300 million in funding for the Government each year, is also in talks with the Department of Health and Children to potentially match the funding provided by the philanthropic body, which is winding down its Irish operations.
Announcement next month
Denis Leamy, the chief executive of Pobal, declined to comment yesterday because the final details have to be worked out. It is believed that an announcement on the project could be made early next month.
If the State matches the Atlantic donation, Pobal will oversee a fund of almost €30 million to fight poverty among children aged up to six years old. It will be open for funding applications from community groups and local projects around the country.
It is envisaged that it will operate as an “area-based” initiative, funding a number of small projects related to education, childcare and child poverty. Different groups operating within an assortment of sectors in the same geographic area will be encouraged to band together to form consortiums to apply for funding.
It is understood that Atlantic Philanthropies wants the funds to be used to keep children at risk of poverty within the mainstream education and childcare systems.
Atlantic has previously worked closely on childcare issues with Pobal. It has provided funds for the National Early Years Access initiative, a three-year programme that aimed to improve facilities for young children in disadvantaged areas. The new initiative will follow on from this.
Atlantic Philanthropies was founded in 1982 by the reclusive Irish-American billionaire Feeney. It announced last year that it was withdrawing from Ireland. It will complete grant-making here by the end of 2016, and cease operations in Ireland entirely by 2020.
It has focused heavily on providing funds to third-level colleges, initiatives for young children and the elderly, and projects related to the Northern Ireland peace process. It has made grants totalling more than $1.5 billion on the island of Ireland, and $6.5 billion globally.
Groups to have benefited from its funding include the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, the Carers Association and Irish Senior Citizens Parliament. Atlantic Philanthropies also provided the funding for the ill-fated Centre for Public Inquiry. The organisation said it does not comment on its philanthropic activities.