This paper applies institutional theory to help understand the regulative, normative and culturalcognitive influences that shape policies aimed at widening participation in IT education. It also employs such theory to explore the commitments of social actors in translating policy into action. Thus, this study aims to deepen the IS field’s understanding of the institutional challenges facing governments, related agencies and educational organisations when implementing polices aimed at promoting social inclusion in and through the provision of IT-based education and training. The study achieves this by conducting (a) an institutional analysis of the Irish education sector and (b) a longitudinal study of an innovative programme that implements government policy on social inclusion through education. The lessons learned from the case study inform both theory and practice and illustrate that providing IT-based education for the socially excluded requires significant commitments to action by all concerned over lengthy time horizons.