When we launched our first funding programme last year, we had a clear ambition: to find, invest in, support and evaluate promising approaches that ensure that all young people have fair access to good quality jobs.
It’s been a very challenging year for the sector as a result of COVID-19, but this week we have been announcing the first wave of the grants that we have made in 2020. More will follow over the coming weeks and months. It has been a privilege reading and assessing so many incredible applications.
We are now funding an incredibly diverse range of projects and organisations; half of our grant holder organisations have leaders with ethnic minority backgrounds. They all share a common mission of working with young people to overcome the systemic barriers they face, be it because of their ethnic background, where they come from, because they have a disability or have experience of the criminal justice system.
Our Development and Impact grants are designed not just to support these valuable interventions, but fund bespoke evaluation programmes which will help us, in partnership with our grant holders, to create the evidence base of ‘what works’.
There have been times during the last year, when a crystal ball would have been helpful. Obviously no–one predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and how it would impact on both the young people we exist to support or the organisations who work with them. There has been an overwhelming demand for our funding and it’s been hard not being able to fund all the fantastic applications we have received.
In response to the pandemic, alongside our funding of Development and Impact grants we have also been announcing funding to a range of infrastructure organisations with the aim of enhancing frontline services for young people. These awards will enable hands-on support for organisations across England as they continue to help young people to move towards and into jobs.
There is more to come, both in terms of funding announcements and new opportunities to apply for funding in 2021. We remain committed to improving our approaches. We can, and will, make it easier to apply as well as sharing learning and good practice as it’s generated.
My real hope is that, armed with the evidence we generate with our grant holders, we will enable successful existing programmes to scale up, as well as support the development of new approaches and make a real and lasting change to the prospects of young people, at a time when they have never needed it more.