Blagrave was set up in 1978 and endowed in 1981 starting life as the “The Herbert and Peter Blagrave Charitable Trust” upon the death of Herbert Blagrave (Peter was a brother, but the endowment was all Herbert’s). Herbert left the majority of his substantial assets to form the Trust.
We had the initial character of a small family trust, but with no family members. For many years we had a relatively modest distributable income and focused on the three counties in which Herbert had lived and worked – Berkshire, Hampshire and Wiltshire.
The trustees sold the Linkenholt estate in Hampshire, which was the main endowment, in order to diversify the investments and increase the distributable income substantially. This allowed the Trust to appoint a dedicated staff member and deepen its work, in particular funding Community Foundations in the region and with a broad range of funded work.
From this period onwards and with a new Director, the board slowly grew from 3 founding trustees to bring in sector specific skills and it was at this time that a decision was made to focus exclusively on young people. Investments and grant giving capacity continued to grow and there was more focus put into who, where and how we fund. We expanded our geography to include the Isle of Wight and Sussex. Blagrave changed its name to The Blagrave Trust and focused on being a relational funder that worked in partnership with grantees. In the next years Blagrave moved towards funding nationally, being more intentional and strategic in its work and collaborating with other funders and change agencies to increase representation and accountability to young people across the youth sector. This led to research on young trustees nationally and the Feedback Fund (the foundation for The Listening Fund).
The board, now including young people, highlighted a desire to invest in policy work as well as youth services. This broadened our grant giving to include policy and campaigning organisations outside the region. Out of this came our research into the landscape of funding and infrastructure for youth-led change in the UK. Following the findings of the report we funded and designed several initiatives set up to invest in young people directly e.g the Young Trustees Movement was launched in 2019. Significant progress was made on a total impact approach – that is, reviewing our investments for alignment with mission.
This leads us to now, where we have three distinct area to our work: investing in the youth sector’s accountability to young people (which includes our funding for services in the region), investing in young people directly, and investing in better youth policy.
For a more detailed account of our history please read The Story of The Blagrave Trust (1981-2018) and Our Learning Journey Three Years On (2018-2021). These reports go into further detail on how our approach, governance, investments, internal youth leadership, strategy and learning has developed throughout our history.