The European Social Catalyst Fund (ESCF) is a new initiative designed to have significant impact on some of Europe’s most pressing social challenges. It has been established and co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, Genio (Ireland), the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Germany) and the King Baudouin Foundation (Belgium).

Now, more than ever, we need to identify ways of bringing together public and private resources (philanthropy and/or social investment) in a range of collaborations to help re-focus public spending in a more effective, evidence-based direction in the interest of European citizens. The spread of the COVID-19 virus across Europe and globally impacts everyone regardless of age, gender, race or wealth. However, our most vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens are most at risk and likely to be worst effected post-crisis due to significant strains on our economies, resources and services. The European Social Catalyst Fund (ESCF) is poised to meet this challenge by finding the best evidence-based innovations to reach those in need in several areas across Europe.

In this context, the deadline for applications to the ESCF has been extended to 11th September 2020, acknowledging the challenges and pressures that so many across Europe are currently experiencing. This will also allow more time for recognising and reflecting on what are appropriate and creative responses to the emerging changes in all our lives going forward, especially in the social economy.

The ESCF will provide financial and capacity building support to develop plans to scale proven social service innovations. The ESCF will award planning grants across a range of priority social challenge areas within, or across, European Union Member States. The purpose of the grants is to support the development of detailed implementation plans aimed at reducing, or overcoming, social challenges. Innovations will be identified through a pan-European call and all eligible applications will be evaluated against published criteria. Preference will be given to innovations that have the most robust evidence of success and that aim to reach the most significant scale. Each selected application will receive a planning grant of up to €100,000 along with capacity building support. A minimum of €600,000 will be allocated to support at least 6 plans.

It is intended that during the project a further phase will be designed, based on learning obtained, which will include a focus on supporting implementation of plans to scale proven social service innovations.

See for more details.