Irish American fund aims to raise $1m a month

As the economic crisis has intensified, the Irish American Fund has increased its efforts to support more than 300 initiatives across the island of Ireland.

The fund launched the Promising Ireland fund with an initial goal of raising $100m (€79.5m) at the start of the year, but such was the response that the fund has increased its target to $140m, according to the president and chief executive of American Ireland, Kieran McLoughlin.

“As of this [Friday] morning we’ve agreed a new goal for Dec 2013,” he said.

“The new goal of $140m requires us to raise $1m a month, every month for the next 18 months. Our money is privately sourced so that is philanthropic giving from donors across the world. Not a penny of public money is in there.”

He added that the new Promising Ireland fund would account for nearly 30% of the $432m the fund has raised for Irish projects since it was founded in 1976.

“In other words, over a quarter of our entire income has been raised in a 10th of our history. Already the Promising Ireland campaign has provided support to more than 350 charities in Ireland,” he said.

The demand for support from charities has also increased as the recession hits public funds.

The Irish American Fund’s Catriona Fottrell said that the number of applicants had increased from 600 in 2011 to more than 1,000 so far this year.

Ms Fottrell said the level of grants that the Irish American Fund gives varies widely, from a few thousand euro for community initiatives to the millions pledged to the UCD science centre and the five-year music project, Music Generation.

The UCD science centre has received $6m, while the Cork Music Generation project is set to receive $7m over five years.

The Music Generation project is a joint initiative between the Fund and U2. The bulk of the funding will come from U2, who have pledged $5m to the project.

Music Generation Cork will provide opportunities for more than 3,000 children to access musical education in Cork. Ireland has some of the lowest levels of access to musical education in Europe, and the American Ireland fund said that it has secured a commitment from the Government to roll out the scheme across Ireland once the initial Cork scheme concludes.

More than 200 supporters of the fund are gathering in Cork for the annual Worldwide Ireland Funds Conference, which will be attended by former US president Bill Clinton, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and poet Seamus Heaney.

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