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The objective of the ESCF is to bring together public and private resources to improve social services to enable people who need support to live as valued and participating members of their communities.

The European Social Catalyst Fund (ESCF) is a new initiative designed to have significant impact on some of Europe’s most pressing social challenges. 

The ESCF will provide financial and capacity building support to develop plans to scale proven social service innovations. It is anticipated that these plans will provide details of how public and private resources (philanthropy and/or social investment) can be brought together in a range of collaborations that focus on the role that philanthropy and social finance can play in working with the public sector to help re-focus public spending in a more effective direction in the interest of European citizens. 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.

The ESCF was 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). It has awarded planning grants across a range of priority social challenge areas within, and across, European Union Member States. The purpose of the grants has been to support the development of detailed implementation plans aimed at reducing, or overcoming, social challenges. Innovations were identified through a pan-European call and all eligible applications were evaluated against published criteria. Preference was given to innovations that had the most robust evidence of success and that aim to reach the most significant scale. Each selected application received financial and non-financial support to develop scaling plans. A total fund of €600,000 was allocated to support the development of plans concerning 7 innovations.

Objectives of the European Social Catalyst Fund

  1. To provide financial support, guidance and information to proven social service innovations selected through a pan-European competition to develop implementation plans to upscale.

  2. To stimulate a broader range of public sector, philanthropic and social investment collaborations that foster the scaling of social service innovations to meet social challenges across EU Member States aligned with the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

  3. To produce exemplar plans across a range of priority social challenge areas that can be implemented to a substantial level of scale within two years.

  4. Plans also must be relevant to the social and implementation challenges in at least five EU Member States, two of which will be Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs).

  5. To develop and disseminate knowledge and skills on how to successfully plan the scaling of social service innovations.

  6. To design a further phase of the European Social Catalyst Fund based on learning obtained in the process of achieving these objectives.

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