Co-op Foundation #iwill Fund

The #iwill Fund is a £40m joint investment from the National Lottery Community Fund, using National Lottery funding, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high-quality social action opportunities. Co-op Foundation is acting as a match funder.

The foundation has just launched the first strand of its £3m extension to its #iwill Fund, which focuses on supporting youth-led advocacy to improve the design and use of community spaces.

The other two strands will launch later in 2019, focusing on:

  • Social action which supports young people experiencing bereavement
  • Social action which supports young people through the transition from primary to secondary school.

The #iwill campaign aims to make social action part of life for all 10- to 20-year-olds. It will run until 2022, with an overall focus on supporting social action that draws on young people's own lived experience to:

  • Connect them to social action opportunities that lead to real community impact
  • Empower them through the difference this makes for themselves and their peers.

This funding builds on the foundation's Building Connections Fund Youth strand, which supported young people to co-design improvements to services and community spaces.

How will the grants work?

In the first round of this fund, the Co-op Foundation expects to make grants of up to £35,000 each to around eight organisations.

Grants will be awarded for one year, although successful applicants will have the opportunity to re-apply for up to two years' further funding, to build on their learning and focus on sustaining their impact. There will also be further opportunities for new applicants to apply for this strand of the fund from 2020.

What is ‘community space'?

For the purposes of this funding, community space is defined as spaces which are (or could be) open to members of the public. This might include places where young people interact with services and institutions, spaces that young people struggle to access or use in the way that they would like and/or where young people's voices aren't currently represented.

The foundation wants to support bids from organisations that draw on young people's lived experience to improve community spaces.

An example of an existing #iwill partner is KIDS, which is equipping disabled young people to improve community spaces. More from

When do you need to apply?

Applications opened on 5 August and close at midday on Friday 20 September 2019.

Shortlisted applicants will be notified by 4 October and final grant decisions will be made by Co-op Foundation trustees on 14 November. Successful applications will be notified by the end of November.

What criteria is used to judge?

Applications will be reviewed by the Co-op Foundation's Youth Advisory Group, so organisers recommend applicants avoid using jargon and ensure bids are clear and easy to understand. They should also have had input from young people themselves.

Are other qualities required?

The foundation wants to support organisations that understand what high-quality youth social action is and have experience of equipping young people with the skills to deliver meaningful advocacy-based social action.

Approaches should empower young people to take the lead and advocate to improve community spaces that are important to them and where their work can be embedded into spaces in the long-term. In addition, they should show how they actively seek to include young people who may face barriers to getting involved.

Applicants should demonstrate a clear double benefit - to the young person who takes part by developing their skills, character and life opportunities, as well as to a community, cause or social problem - and explain how the project will benefit young people in areas of deprivation.

How can the funding be used?

Grants can be used to cover any costs related to carrying out the project, including:

  • Salaries of staff involved in delivering or supporting the project
  • Costs of advocacy activities, including appropriate incentives and rewards for young people to take part
  • Proportionate contributions to organisational running costs required to support the delivery of the project.

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Funding roundup

  • Action for Children and transport group FirstGroup have reached their £1m fundraising target one year into a three-year partnership. The funding provides mental health support for vulnerable and disadvantaged children across the UK. The money was raised through FirstGroup employees undertaking sponsored events, in addition to corporate donations and the commercial value of gift-in-kind advertising space on networks.
  • Councils in England looking to improve public services through innovative uses of digital technology can apply for funding from the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Grants of up to £350,000 will be invested in projects from the government's £7.5m Local Digital Fund. Projects must involve councils working together to explore how digital technology can improve public services. Applications close on 16 September 2019.
  • John Lyon's Charity has committed £375,000 from its School Holiday Activity Fund to support activities for children and young people in Barnet, Brent, Camden, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster. The charity's chief executive, Lynne Guyton, says: "It is about funding projects that allow children and young people the opportunity to do something exciting, entertaining but also to relax and learn through play."
  • Ten schools across England have won £140,000 over three years from the Education Endowment Foundation to boost the quality of teaching in their region through better use of research. The new Research Schools will become focal points of evidence-based practice and build networks between large numbers of schools.

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