Skills & Opportunities Fund

Helping people help themselves

Our Skills & Opportunities Fund is one of the many ways we’re contributing to the communities we live and work in. In 2015, we committed £2.5m to fund projects in charities, social enterprises, community groups, state-funded schools and colleges across the UK and Ireland, and we have allocated a further £2.5m to be split across two rounds in 2016. Our focus for this funding is to support organisations that help people in disadvantaged communities develop, create or access the skills and opportunities they need to help themselves; skills that will enable them to get into work or start a business, now or in the future. We believe that helping people gain such skills and access opportunities to learn can help turn their lives around and build better communities for everyone; when we build stronger communities, we all grow.

We want to support as many people and organisations as possible. So even if we don’t shortlist your project, we may be able to help you in other ways. This might include offering our skills and expertise to help you get your project off the ground in addition to a grant. To be eligible for this type of support, make sure your project meets the regional priorities and the set criteria, and – where we believe we can add value and your project has particular merit – we will contact you.

Supporting local communities

We’ve split the country into seven regions, each with its own decision making board, in order to distribute our Skills & Opportunities Fund. Although all regions will be looking to fund projects that enable people to help themselves, each will have differing priorities recognising regional differences. Prior to applying for funding, you must look at your region’s priorities next to the map below, and make sure your application complies with the requirements otherwise your application may not be eligible and may get rejected. Grants up to a maximum of £35,000 can be applied for.

Applications for round 2 of the Skills & Opportunities Fund are open from midday 19 August until midday 9 September 2016.

Regional map and priorities

North

South West and Wales

Midlands and East

Scotland

South East

London

Ireland

Scotland

Scotland

“In Scotland, we’re committed to funding projects that will leave a lasting legacy for the people we share a community with. We’d like to see a measurable social impact on employability, education or enterprise all across the country and make a real difference in our disadvantaged communities.”

Scotland Board Chair – Malcolm Buchanan

Read about winners in Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

“In Scotland, we’re committed to funding projects that will leave a lasting legacy for the people we share a community with. We’d like to see a measurable social impact on employability, education or enterprise all across the country and make a real difference in our disadvantaged communities.”

Scotland Board Chair – Malcolm Buchanan

Read about winners in Scotland

 

London

London

“In London we’re determined to make a difference to the communities that need it most. We’re looking to fund projects that can deliver measurable positive social impacts, which help disadvantaged people in London to succeed by supporting enterprise, education and employability. We are particularly interested in projects that leave a lasting legacy and can offer volunteering opportunities for our staff.”

London Board Chair – Phil Northey

Read about winners in London

London

London

“In London we’re determined to make a difference to the communities that need it most. We’re looking to fund projects that can deliver measurable positive social impacts, which help disadvantaged people in London to succeed by supporting enterprise, education and employability. We are particularly interested in projects that leave a lasting legacy and can offer volunteering opportunities for our staff.”

London Board Chair – Phil Northey

Read about winners in London

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To make a difference in our communities we need to focus on what is important in each local area.  

Click on the map to learn more about the priorities in each region – and the kind of projects they are looking to support.

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Ireland

Island of Ireland

“In the Island of Ireland, we welcome applications for funding for grants of varying sizes. While larger grants are available, we particularly welcome applications for smaller grants ranging from £1,000/€1,400 and upwards to support smaller-scale projects. We want to fund projects that support enterprise, helping people investigate self-employment and start their own business as well as projects that support financial capability and education, or financial inclusion amongst disadvantaged groups. We are particularly interested in initiatives that provide an opportunity for our staff to be involved, either through volunteering, sharing our business skills or mentoring.”

Island of Ireland Board Chairs – Richard Donnan (NI Chair) and Eddie Cullen (RI Chair)

Read about winners in Island of Ireland

Ireland

Island of Ireland

“In the Island of Ireland, we welcome applications for funding for grants of varying sizes. While larger grants are available, we particularly welcome applications for smaller grants ranging from £1,000/€1,400 and upwards to support smaller-scale projects. We want to fund projects that support enterprise, helping people investigate self-employment and start their own business as well as projects that support financial capability and education, or financial inclusion amongst disadvantaged groups. We are particularly interested in initiatives that provide an opportunity for our staff to be involved, either through volunteering, sharing our business skills or mentoring.”

Island of Ireland Board Chairs – Richard Donnan (NI Chair) and Eddie Cullen (RI Chair)

Read about winners in Island of Ireland

Midlands and East

Midlands and East

“In the Midlands and East, we’re looking to encourage projects to help build a long-lasting legacy and make a real difference in our disadvantaged communities. We’d like to fund projects that can deliver measurable positive social impacts which help entrepreneurs, and in particular women to start their own businesses. We also want to support projects that improve the financial education of disadvantaged people, help them to manage their personal finances more effectively and with an aim of gaining a recognised qualification in personal finance which could help with future employability.”

Midlands and East Board Chair – Janat Hulston

Read about winners in Midlands and East

Midlands and East

Midlands and East

“In the Midlands and East, we’re looking to encourage projects to help build a long-lasting legacy and make a real difference in our disadvantaged communities. We’d like to fund projects that can deliver measurable positive social impacts which help entrepreneurs, and in particular women to start their own businesses. We also want to support projects that improve the financial education of disadvantaged people, help them to manage their personal finances more effectively and with an aim of gaining a recognised qualification in personal finance which could help with future employability.”

Midlands and East Board Chair – Janat Hulston

Read about winners in Midlands and East

South East

South East

“In the South East, we want to fund projects that can deliver measurable social impact and make a real difference in our disadvantaged communities. We will consider any project in the South East that addresses our priorities of supporting education, enterprise and employment in the region. We aim to spread the winners' pool of funds across a broad range of successful organisations whilst maintaining key funder status. All applications that meet the criteria and create a lasting legacy for their participants will be considered by our judging panel. The best of luck to all who choose to apply.”

South East Board Chair – Tim Boag

Read about winners in South East

South East

South East

“In the South East, we want to fund projects that can deliver measurable social impact and make a real difference in our disadvantaged communities. We will consider any project in the South East that addresses our priorities of supporting education, enterprise and employment in the region. We aim to spread the winners' pool of funds across a broad range of successful organisations whilst maintaining key funder status. All applications that meet the criteria and create a lasting legacy for their participants will be considered by our judging panel. The best of luck to all who choose to apply.”

South East Board Chair – Tim Boag

Read about winners in South East

South West and Wales

South West and Wales

“In the South West and Wales region, we want to support projects that will help people investigate two specific areas of activity. We want to fund projects that:

  • Help people investigate self-employment and start their own business.
  • Improve the financial education of disadvantaged people to help them manage their personal finances more effectively.

Where organisations have volunteering opportunities for our staff, whilst not essential, we would also like to hear about these.”

South West and Wales Board Chair – Oliver Watts

Read about winners in South West and Wales

South West and Wales

South West and Wales

“In the South West and Wales region, we want to support projects that will help people investigate two specific areas of activity. We want to fund projects that:

  • Help people investigate self-employment and start their own business.
  • Improve the financial education of disadvantaged people to help them manage their personal finances more effectively.

Where organisations have volunteering opportunities for our staff, whilst not essential, we would also like to hear about these.”

South West and Wales Board Chair – Oliver Watts

Read about winners in South West and Wales

North

The North

“For this round the North Board have focussed on two specific areas of activity.  We want to fund projects that: 

  • Help people investigate self-employment and start their own business.
  • Improve the financial education of disadvantaged people to help them manage their personal finances more effectively.

While we are keen to see applications submitted from across our region we would encourage organisations from outside the larger metropolitan areas to apply.”

North Board Chair – Richard Topliss

Read about winners in The North

North

The North

“For this round the North Board have focussed on two specific areas of activity.  We want to fund projects that: 

  • Help people investigate self-employment and start their own business.
  • Improve the financial education of disadvantaged people to help them manage their personal finances more effectively.

While we are keen to see applications submitted from across our region we would encourage organisations from outside the larger metropolitan areas to apply.”

North Board Chair – Richard Topliss

Read about winners in The North

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Round 2 2016 open for applications

Apply now for your share of our 2016 £2.5m Skills & Opportunities Fund and make a difference to the lives of those around you.

 

Apply now