The Listening Fund’s Advisers’ Fund

The Listening Fund’s Advisers’ Fund is now closed to applications. Thank you for your interest.

Our advisers – 10 young people from across England – will be assessing applications over the next two months before deciding which work to fund. After a period of reflection, they will then launch a callout for grassroots organisations towards the end of Autumn 2022.

Breaking down the language

What do we mean by injustice?
Young people who are or have been disadvantaged because of poverty, social exclusion, discrimination or any other contributing factors. We are particularly interested in work which supports young people who have been affected by a combination of different factors.

What do we mean by youth leadership?
We want young people to be able to hold organisations to account: for their services, for their ways of working, and for how they advocate on young people’s behalf. As the power and resources needed for this accountability are typically only accessible to those in leadership positions, our advisers’ want to:


  • Support young people and organisations to work together, re-examining and redefining what skills, qualities and experiences are valued in leadership roles, and thereby challenging ideas about who can be a leader.
  • Invest in work which explores different leadership models and structures, strengthening organisations and improving their work by including young people’s experience and expertise
  • Help to build a pipeline of opportunities which gives young people access to long-term leadership roles.
Who we want to fund

This funding is for:

  • Youth-focused charities and non-profit organisations in England that are supporting young people (aged 10-30)
  • Organisations with the skills to deliver the work alone, or in partnership
  • Either new work to create leadership opportunities for young people, or ongoing work where additional funding will accelerate impact and progress

This funding is NOT for:

  • Work whose primary objective is to train young people in leadership skills with no defined, long-term opportunities to exercise them
  • Work which does not recognise the need for change within organisations and/or systems, expecting young people to operate within structures which simply uphold the status quo
  • Tokenistic work which exploits young people
  • Organisations with a turnover under £200,000 per annum or in excess of £2m per annum. There will be a follow-on call for grassroots organisations in Autumn 2022

We are particularly looking to fund work that:

  • Has meaningfully involved young people in its development
  • Improves organisations’ accountability to the young people they exist to serve
  • Focuses on working with young people who have experienced injustice to bring their experience and expertise into leadership roles
  • Is ambitious about realising changes in an organisation’s existing leadership to create better opportunities for young people, and is excited about where that might lead
  • Explores new leadership approaches which are grounded in young people’s strengths and interests
  • Centres creativity and joy in both the process of change and the final outcome
  • Is rooted in an organisation’s existing relationships with young people and past experience of involving them in the organisation’s work
  • Creates ideas, opportunities and learning which have the potential to have influence beyond a small cohort of young people
  • Has potential for longer-term impact by, for example, influencing organisations’ and/or systems’ cultures and ways of working
  • Is progressive in values and willing to challenge the status quo
Questions we want to explore

Learning from funded work is an important part of our collective impact. We will work with all partners to define our final learning goals, but some of the questions we are interested in addressing through this funding include:

  • What are the emerging or established forms of youth leadership which do not currently get the funding they need?
  • In the different organisations and systems which affect young people across society, where is youth leadership most absent and how can this be addressed?
  • What support, structures and approaches are effective in supporting young people into leadership roles?
  • How does increased and improved youth leadership affect an organisation and its activities?
  • How are the young people who step into leadership roles affected by these opportunities?

Our learning partner – Collective Discovery – will work across all funded work, supporting organisations with their reflections and working with them to share their knowledge.

Assessment criteria
  • We will be scoring applications according to the organisation’s listening culture, the need for the proposed work, the potential for learning, and the application’s potential for joy
  • We will also be assessing the mix of partners within the cohort, with an ambition of funding a range of partners across England, working with different groups and ages of young people, in a variety of different ways.
Q and A

How much funding is available?
We have allocated a total budget of £500,000 for the lifetime of this funding programme. The maximum grant for which you can apply is £40,000 p.a.

What are the timescales of this funding?
Funding is available for 2 years.

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.

Can I apply if I am already receiving a grant from one of the Listening Fund’s funders?

Can I apply if I am already receiving a grant from the Listening Fund?

The following questions and answers provide a summary of the Q&A webinar we hosted on 29th June 2022. The full video of that session will be posted shortly.

Are you happy to support new and emergent work in this space as well as existing projects?
Yes, we are happy to support both new and existing work. However, we know from our experience with Listening Fund partners that organisational culture is a key element in good listening and effective accountability. For new projects, and for organisations who are just starting to develop their work in this space, we would look to see clear evidence of how the applicant organisation is committed to improving their accountability and listening, and an understanding of what a good, safe listening culture looks like.

How rigid is the guidance on financial eligibility?
We want to fund the best possible work in this space. The advisers want to focus this round of grants on small-medium size organisations and the guidelines on financial eligibility provide some parameters on what we believe fall within this definition. However, given the context of changes in income brought about in the pandemic (e.g. recent annual accounts might show a smaller income than existed pre-pandemic), and the different organisational structures which might be put forward (e.g. collaborative working between organisations of different sizes), we will seek to interpret the guidelines as generously as possible. It is worth restating that there will be a second round of funding in Autumn 2022 focused on smaller, grassroots organisations.

Could a grant be used to provide support for a post-holder to help a young person to succeed in a leadership role and thereby improve the work’s sustainability?
We don’t want to provide detailed prescriptions for how grants should be spent, but from our own experience at Blagrave, we recognise how important it is to provide proper, tailored support to young people which enables them to maximise the opportunities they’ve earnt. It could be a positive outcome of this funding stream if collectively we develop a better understanding of what support is effective in supporting different young people into positions of leadership.

Could this be extended to a support role within an organisation e.g. Participation/Engagement Officer?
Yes. However, we would want to understand how this role supports genuine, bold youth leadership opportunities within your organisation/work. We do not want to fund anything which is tokenistic.

What is your definition of ‘long-term’ opportunities for young people?
We don’t want to fund training programmes which, post-completion, leave the onus on the young person to find a permanent role or opportunity. Instead, we want to fund organisations who are going to use their grants to actively embed youth leadership within their own work.

Would you consider funding an apprenticeship?
We are unable to respond at this stage to the criteria of different apprenticeship schemes offered by the government. Our main question for any applicant applying for funding for an apprenticeship role would be whether the grant is going to support a genuine leadership opportunity for a young person.

Is this funding available to young people wanting to establish their own organisations, or is it focused on changing adult-led organisations?
We anticipate this call-out focusing more on changing adult-led organisations, whereas the grassroots call-out in the Autumn will likely be more appropriate for youth-led organisations.

Would you be willing to fund work which supports young people onto boards?
Yes. However, given the relatively limited funding pot and thus the small number of grants we anticipate making, as well as the existing work around diversifying boards – e.g. the Young Trustees Movement – it would require a very compelling application, with the potential for particularly valuable learning, to secure a grant for bringing young people onto the board of one organisation.

In terms of improving accountability, does this only apply to the youth organisation who is applying? Or can we branch out to work with e.g. local government and other service providers?
We’re interested in supporting work which improves accountability in the organisations and systems which have the biggest impact on young people’s lives. However, our experience from The Listening Fund is that it is rare that organisations are effective at supporting young people into positions where they can hold e.g. local government to account, if they don’t have good listening and accountability cultures and processes themselves. We therefore anticipate that any successful applications for improving external accountability would either already have very good listening and accountability cultures and processes themselves, and/or be seeking to improve them whilst influencing other organisations and systems.

Do you have a sense of target numbers e.g. of individuals/cost per head? Should we provide a budget?
At this stage in the application, we don’t need any more information than detailed on the online form. If we require more during the process, we will contact you. We don’t have targets for cost per head.

How to apply

Applications for the Advisers’ Fund are now closed. Thank you for your interest.

Key dates

  • Open for proposals: Tuesday 21st June 2022
  • Online Q and A webinar: 29th June 2022
  • Deadline for proposals: 6pm Thursday 28th July 2022
  • Further questions and clarifying conversations: we will set up phone calls/video calls as necessary with shortlisted organisations in August and early September 2022
  • Final decisions: mid-September 2022
  • All funding agreed: end of October 2022