Funding young people in policy-making
What we intend to fund
We want to fund projects, campaigns and organisations that help young people influence policy that affects them, and so redress power imbalances in policymaking. We hope to fund work that builds accessible and inclusive structures for ensuring young people’s voices are heard and acted upon.
Examples of work that we might support through this programme include:
- Deliberative and/or creative processes for developing, informing and advocating for policy recommendations
- Peer research and follow-up advocacy
- Programmes that allow young people and policy-makers to work side-by-side
- Initiatives to support young people from under-represented backgrounds to themselves take up policy-making roles
We also want to learn about effective work already being done, and so are very keen to hear about promising and innovative models for youth engagement and leadership in policy-making that might look different to those listed above.
We accept that it is hard to guarantee policy impact and so are looking for evidence of potential. This might look like strong connections to relevant decision-makers, a track record of having influenced policy in the past, and/or being clear about the opportunity to influence (for example, upcoming government legislation, spending decisions, guidance, consultation outcomes, or policy papers). We will support work on any policy issue that directly affects the young people involved.
We recognise that work that meaningfully involves young people and responds to external context and changing opportunities to influence, will itself evolve and develop over time.
A learning partner will be appointed to work across all funded work, and partners will be expected to work as a cohort, sharing achievements, learning and successful models and approaches. Our learning partner will support organisations to reflect together and internally and share this knowledge across the youth and democracy sectors. We are currently advertising for a learning partner – please find more information and how to apply here.
Eligibility and priorities
This funding is for…
- Charities and non-profit organisations in England that are supporting young people (aged 16-25) with experience of social injustice to be heard in policy-making processes
- Work targeting either national or local government policy-making, or the policies of large public bodies such as the police or NHS
- Organisations with the skills to deliver the work alone, or in partnership
- Either new or ongoing work
This funding is NOT for…
- Work whose primary objective is to educate young people on democratic processes and engagement, or driving up voter registration/turnout, as opposed to directly creating an impact on policy. We are a contributing funder to the Democracy Fund and so would encourage organisations particularly working on democratic engagement to apply here.
- Any work that is not compliant with charity law e.g. party political in focus, or aiming to influence the outcomes of an election.
We are particularly looking to fund work that…
- Sets out a clear model and process enabling young people to develop and share their ideas
- Builds on past experience of involving young people in policy-making, and/or propose innovative ways of doing so
- Creates an environment for a wide range of young people to learn and work together
- Helps realise the rights of the young people experiencing social injustice, recognising intersectionality and how different issues might interact
- Demonstrates the ability to support those young people to participate meaningfully
- Faces and addresses the question of privilege. There is merit in supporting all young people to influence, but where we fund young people to influence who have experienced higher levels of privilege, we want to be sure we aren’t perpetuating inequality
- Is progressive in values and willing to challenge the status quo
Q and A
Please note this page has been updated on 7th Feb following our online Q and A webinar that took place on the 2nd of February. You can find the PowerPoint from the session here.
Learning, impact and reporting
1. How do you envisage working as a cohort to look? Can you tell us more about the Learning Partner role?
All funded organisations will be supported to work together to develop and implement their plans and reflect and improve on the basis of what they learn. This will primarily be via three cohort gatherings over the first year, and the opportunity to stay in touch in between these.
The learning partner will help plan and facilitate these convenings and the group will have the opportunity to shape the focus of the learning. They will then draw together information from these and from individual conversations with staff, policy makers and young people to synthesise and share learning from the funding programme. This is ultimately to contribute knowledge and improve quality and impact in this work. We are currently advertising for our learning partner: please find more information here.
2. What would be the reporting requirements?
The most important ask of funded partners will be to participate in cohort learning sessions. Beyond that we will ask for a short, written report at the end of each year of funded activity, covering achievements, learning and an overview of expenditure.
3. What evidence of impact would you be looking for when the project has been completed and over what period would expect this to be evaluated?
We will not specify outcomes for any individual project and know that guaranteeing or even attributing policy impact after the event is difficult. Partners should work alongside young people to define their own ideal policy outcomes, but also to refine these and their approach as their work together develops. Our priority is that partners use a range of information and perspectives to learn and improve their work. Our learning partner will be considering how we understand the impact of involving young people in policy-making on a broader and longer-term basis.
Deciding area of focus
4. Can the target for policy change be privately owned public services such as transport companies? Or civil society organisations? Or sector-specific representative organisations? Or a network of organisations?
Our focus for this funding stream is government policymaking, whether local or national. Other bodies such as privately-owned companies, civil society organisations or a network of multiple organisations might be an important route to influencing and/or implementing government policy. If a direct connection can be drawn to government policymaking, working with and influencing these organisations would be in scope for the funding. However, influencing them as an end in itself wouldn’t be. Work to influence public bodies that are large and autonomous enough to set their own policy, such as the NHS and police, would also be eligible. We will consider the scale as well as the likelihood of the potential policy impact when assessing proposals.
5. Are you looking for a specific issue in policy or is a theme acceptable? To what extent do you need the policy area to be decided at the application stage? Can we apply with a broad or no issue identified and allow young people to choose the area of focus?
It is key that organisations applying to the fund have already identified at least one opportunity to influence on which they have some existing track record. This might be a broad area where the organisation knows there is an ‘open door’ to influence, or a way in for their project to advocate for solutions, in which case the specific policy asks could be determined by the young people as the work develops.
6. Does it have to be a specific policy outcome, or can we apply for a proposal to build the infrastructure around youth influencing?
For this particular funding stream, we are looking for proposals that have identified a specific opportunity to impact on policy rather than more general proposals for new structures and processes. Depending on what we learn from this funding round, and about what partners need to strengthen their work, it is possible that we would offer more informed funding for infrastructure work in the future. The Blagrave Trust is separately exploring work around the infrastructure of youth influencing and you are welcome to get in touch with the team on this separately.
7. How restricted is the grant? We already work with a group of young people whose focus is policy change. Would we have to apply for a specific project within their group, or could the costs go towards funding that area of our work in general?
We can structure the funding as appropriate for the organisation/project, e.g. unrestricted where a whole charity is aligned to the objectives of this funding; or restricted to any particular stream of work. The priority would be as above: that there is a clearly defined model for change, and opportunities to influence.
8. Is a budget required with the initial application?
No – we trust potential partners to understand and tell us the headline amount that they need to carry out the work meaningfully and impactfully. We do not require a budget at initial proposal stage but would explore how resource would be allocated across the work and how this compares with other proposals before agreeing a final grant amount and terms and conditions.
9. Is this funding stream restricted to ‘youth charities’ or can charities supporting all ages apply?
Organisations with broader audiences/remits than young people are welcome to apply. However, they should demonstrate that they have credibility, meaningful connections, and an understanding of how to support the communities of young people they are working with (or be working in partnership with an organisation that does).
10. Can you explain what you mean by existing partners needing to offer something ‘substantively different’ from their current grant agreement?
We do not want to use this funding stream to expand or bolster existing grant arrangements, so any new funding that we agree should be for a different purpose. Any current partner is welcome to contact Philippa (Philippa.firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss the relationship between their current grant and any potential proposal if helpful.
11. Can we apply for funding as a local authority?
We’re keen that bodies such as local authorities are bought into this work and committed to its outcomes. We would jointly fund an independent partner organisation to support young people to work alongside policy makers within the local authority, however, as a small charitable grant-maker we wouldn’t fund a local authority’s participation work directly.
Timing, logistics and budgets
12. How much funding is available?
We have allocated a total budget of £350,000 for the first year of this funding programme, and so depending on proposals received expect to agree around 10 grants of between £30,000-£50,000 per year.
13. What are the timescales of this funding?
Organisations can request 1, 2 or 3 years of funding depending on the timescales of their influencing work.
14. Can I apply for unrestricted funding?
We expect that most grants will be restricted to specific programmes of work, unless the whole organisation’s mission is aligned to the objectives of this funding programme, in which case we will consider unrestricted funding.
15. Can the work be part-funded by government or another funder?
Yes. We are particularly keen to see work part-funded by the policy-making bodies you are aiming to influence.
16. Can I apply if I am already receiving a grant from Blagrave?
We are open to proposals from current Blagrave partners as long as the proposal is substantively different to the work we are already funding, and/or existing funding is anticipated to end in 2022.
17. When can projects begin? When does the work need to be delivered / completed by?
We are open to funding new or ongoing work and will be led by partners as to the most appropriate timescales for their work. We are aiming for all funding to be agreed and terms and conditions signed by the end of April. Organisations can apply for one, two or three years of funding depending on the time needed to achieve their intended outcomes.
18. Will this funding be available next year, or is this a one-off funding opportunity? Can we apply for more than one year of funding?
At this stage we are offering funding for one, two or three years. We will learn from our experience of this call-out and guidance from our learning partner to shape any additional/future funding but are in principle committed to this area of work in the coming years.
19. Can the work cover the implementation and tracking of impact post policy success?
Yes – we recognise that implementation and monitoring is an important and often neglected part of the policy-making process.
20. You state the funding range is from £30k to £50k per year. Is £30k the minimum per year?
21. Can we apply multiple times for different projects/programmes?
No, we would rather that you apply for the work that is most promising in terms of potential policy impact and where the funding would make the biggest difference to your work.
22. Do you have any expectations in terms of day rates within budgets? And are there types of costs that you will/won’t cover (e.g. whole new job posts, IT equipment costs?)
We would not cover significant capital expenditure, but otherwise will be led by partners as to what budgets allow them to complete the work meaningfully, within our grant offer of £30,000-£50,000 per year. We are a living wage funder.
24. Can you give a steer on the level of management/administrative support you would see as reasonable – for example a policy facilitator/coordinator role which could free up young people to contribute towards, research, training, networking etc?
We fully expect that some budget will be focused on adult support. We will be guided by partners on the split of budget across areas that is appropriate to their work.
25. Are we less likely to be funded if we apply for a multi-year grant than if we just go for one? Also, will it be an all or nothing approval, or might you offer us something (like one year) if there isn’t sufficient funding to fund all the applications you like?
No, we are as open to multi-year proposals as to shorter-term work and acknowledge that impactful policy work can be immediate and reactive, or about building up evidence and pressure over a longer time period. We expect to fund organisations working to a range of timescales in the final cohort. We wouldn’t try and amend or reduce the scope of projects to fit our own budgets, but might have a conversation about costs if they seem unusually high or low for the scope of the project.
26. Is it about influencing national or local level policy? Can the work be at sub regional level? Any region in England?
Yes, the target of influencing can be local or national; sub-regional (e.g. local authorities), and in any region in England.
27. To what extent do you expect to see young people directly affected in this area to be part of the application?
We expect that any proposal would be strengthened by the meaningful involvement of young people, appropriately rewarded for their time, but do not have any specific requirements for this.
28. What support, if any, will there be pre-application i.e clarifying the bid purpose is well aligned to the fund.
Applicants are welcome to contact Philippa at Philippa.email@example.com if they have any outstanding questions about the priorities of this funding and fit with their own work, or if any other aspect of the application process is unclear.
29. What should we expect in terms of clarifying conversations and what notice we will have to prepare?
Any clarifying conversations needed with shortlisted organisations will be held on the 14th, 15th and 16th March. We will try and give an indication when we schedule specific conversations the previous week as to what topics we want to cover but wouldn’t expect any particular preparation to be required.
30. Do you need to be a registered charity to apply for unrestricted funding?
Yes: we cannot provide unrestricted funding to CICs or CLGs.
Supporting young people
31. Is 16 the youngest age of the young people we can work with?
The 16-25 age group is not a fixed definition for us and groups can include individuals outside of that bracket as long as they are appropriately supported. However, our focus as a funder is on transitions to adulthood so we would not for example support work with groups entirely aged under 15.
32. Your policy is that young people should be paid for their time and expertise. Does this include under 16s and do you have any guidance on this?
We don’t work directly with under 16s and so we don’t have guidance on this ourselves – but if there were a compelling proposal working with under 16s then we would consider it and work with the organisation on the best approach to remunerating the young people involved.
33. Is remuneration acceptable (eg vouchers) or do you mean ‘paid’ as in a wage/day rate?
We believe that young people should be paid so that their time and expertise (e.g. lived experience) is given equal value to other forms of expertise wherever possible and we are willing to fund this work (see more details on our approach to this here). However, we recognize that the nature and level of support will need to be determined by individual organisations based on their own policies, young people’s ages and time commitments etc. Provided the equity and meaningful recognition of young people’s roles is prioritised then we are open to hearing partners’ approaches and rationales for these where they differ from our own.
34. What access do you think you’ll be able to offer as a trust into decision makers to winning grantees?
As small independent funder we do not have the capacity or the connections to broker access to decision-makers.
35. Are there any expectations to partner with another organisation?
No, as long as the organisation has both the policy influencing and the youth participation skills in-house to deliver the work alone.
36. If applying with a partner, is £30k-£50 the total for the project you can apply for, or the amount each partner can apply for?
£30,000 to £50,000 is the total amount available for any proposal whether delivered by one organisation alone or in partnership.
37. Can organisations apply jointly?
38. Are there any youth led or delivery organisations that you already fund and would be keen to get involved in a partnership bid for this fund?
We do not have the capacity to broker partnerships for this funding.
39. Would you consider part funding an existing project?
40. Are you looking for a specific percentage of partnership/match funding? Is match funding a requirement?
We are open to fully-funding projects, though match funding from decision-making bodies e.g. local authorities where their financial support represented buy-in to the outcomes of the work would be an asset.
41. Would you consider part funding an existing project?
Role of young people
42. Were young people involved in the design of the funding, and will they be involved in assessing applications?
This is not a youth-led programme of work in the sense that it was conceived and designed based on our understanding of need and gaps having funded a range of policy work related to transitions to adulthood. However, it is a priority for us that any funded work and the funding itself is accessible to young people and that they can relate to our priorities and assessment criteria for the work. Therefore, we consulted with three young advisers on the design, web copy and assessment criteria for the funding. There will be at least one person with relevant professional experience aged under 25 on the initial assessment panel, and all funding will be signed off by the Blagrave trustee board, which is diverse by a number of metrics and includes four trustees aged under 26.
How to apply
If you need support to draft or submit your proposal, please contact Philippa.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Open for proposals on Thurs 20th January 2022
- Online Q and A webinar at 2pm, Weds 2nd February
- Deadline for proposals midnight Fri 25th February
- Further questions and clarifying conversations: we will set up phone calls/video calls as necessary with shortlisted organisations on the 14th, 15th and 16th March
- Final decisions in early April
- All funding agreed by the end of April
Applications closed on midnight Fri 25th February and we are currently shortlisting down to 10 partner organisations.
Please click here to be notified about future policy funding programmes.
We are currently advertising for a learning partner to support this work – please find more information and how to apply for this role here.