#iwill Fund


The #iwill Fund will enable more young people to take part in social action through high quality opportunities which create lifelong habits.

What’s it all about?

The #iwill Fund is an England wide joint investment. The original funding involved bringing together £40 million in funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and The National Lottery Community Fund to create a central investment pot. It was launched in November 2016, to support the #iwill campaign’s goals in England, which is aiming to make social action the norm for young people aged 10-20. The #iwill Campaign is run by the charity Step Up To Serve and runs throughout the UK, whereas the #iwill Fund only funds projects that are delivered in England.

The #iwill Fund distributes its investment through working in partnership with other funders. A collaborative group of 25 Match Funders have joined the #iwill Fund to date by match funding the investment on at least a £1:£1 ratio, developing funding programmes that enable more young people, particularly from less affluent communities, to take part in high quality social action that builds a habit for life. The four investment drivers that underpin our investment are:

  • Creating high quality opportunities that connect young people authentically to causes they can address
  • Engaging the younger age group to build a habit, with a focus on primary age
  • A continued focus on reaching young people from less socio-economically affluent communities
  • Prioritise sustainable solutions that can be scaled cost effectively by embedding social action opportunities where young people already are and connecting young people to solving key challenges across society.

All original #iwill Fund monies were awarded for use through 25 Match Funders.

Additional #iwill Fund monies are now available

DCMS and TNLCF are now pleased to announce that there is further funding available to build on the successes of the #iwill Fund, and support the design of a longer-term approach, by working in partnership with other funders to deliver this vision. This means we are again looking for new Match Funders to work in partnership with the #iwill Fund.

This additional funding of approximately £9.3m fund will be delivered through the existing structures of the #iwill Fund. It will provide funding for youth social action opportunities provision (both general/universal and targeted provision) and will build on our current work on reducing the socio-economic participation gap and continue to share learning on how to do this.

We are primarily looking to award funds to Match Funders who are new to the #iwill Fund and who are developing their own youth social action funding programmes which will themselves go on to award funding to other organisations (we are not looking to award funds directly to organisations in order for them to undertake direct delivery themselves).

If you’re organisation is interested in entering a Match Funder partnership with the #iwill Fund please get in touch with either Helen Whyman, Head of Funding (#iwill Fund) helen.whyman@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk or Jason Flynn, #iwill Fund Manager jason.flynn@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk

If you are looking for funding for direct delivery, rather than investing as a Match Funder, you will need to apply directly to one of the #iwill Fund Match Funders. Each Match Funder will have different approaches to awarding funding. Please see more information on the Funding Partnerships tab. To stay up-to-date sign up for the #iwill campaign newsletter. You can also see the latest news by following #iwillFund on twitter.

Funding partnerships

These values below are the #iwill Fund and Funder match funding values:

Pears Foundation have used £10 million to support activity within education, health, social care and environment. They have identified a number of NHS Trusts, which will receive initial grants to develop youth volunteering programmes, as part of NHS70. They are also soliciting grants from Colleges through a partnership with the Association of Colleges, which has identified 8 colleges to start the partnership. In addition they have supported Scouts & Guides who will join forces to open units in new and existing areas to tackle waiting lists and extend reach to deprived communities. The environmental section is working with the Woodland Trust to develop a Young People’s Forest in Derbyshire, which used to be a former open cast mine. This will see some 260,000 trees planted, with young people playing an integral part of the design, maintenance and activity generated on the site for decades to come.

Comic Relief have committed their £2 million grants programme. Working in co-productionwith young people to develop opportunities for young people from areas and backgrounds currently least likely to participate. They have awarded 13 grants to organisations across England, as well as committing additional investment to support youth social action across the UK.

UK Community Foundations are using £13.5 million to give small grants for local social action opportunities through their network of 43 Community Foundations across England. By December 2018 they had made more than 900 grants across the country. In 2019 and 2020, local Community Foundations will continue to award grants of up to £10,000 to local organisations to deliver small-scale youth social action projects in their area. For more information please contact your local Community Foundation. Details of your nearest Community Foundation can be found here: https://www.ukcommunityfoundations.org/our-network

Virgin Money Foundation took a place-based approach to enabling young people across the North East to get involved in social action through their “#iwill take action” fund (which has now closed). They have awarded five strategic grants totaling £743,000, to organisations including Middleborough FC Foundation, The Key, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Youth Focus North East and Groundwork North East and Cumbria. They also had a small grants programme that closed at the end of 2018.

Sport England closed their grant £3 million Potentials Fundround in April 2017. They are targeting young people through the power of sport to engage young people who have expressed an interest in social action but are yet to make it a habit. They have awarded grants to 16 successful organisations

In September 2019 Sport England were awarded an additional £353,989 of #iwill Fund monies, which they will match with £530,984 of their funds (a 1:1.5 match). This will provide further funding to three of their existing #iwill Fund projects in order to sustainably scale the successful youth social action work that they are doing and will allow their delivery to continue until December 2022.

Spirit of 2012 closed their £2 million grants round in October 2017 with the appointment of UK Youth (working in partnership with British Red Cross and the Young Women’s Trust) to deliver a programme enabling girls and young women to change their communities through social action, for the benefit of other girls and the wider community. This programme called EmpowHER aims to help young women and girls lead change in their communities, increase their self-esteem and build wellbeing by providing inclusive and meaningful social action opportunities. Building on its success with cohorts in the North West, South West and West Midlands, the programme will expand into the East of England in 2020, with a further £600,000 of funding to deliver the EmpowHER programme.

Coop Foundation launched their partnership of £2.2 million in May 2017 and are working across the country to address isolation in young people through social action. Through this they have awarded 16 grantsThey released their report into youth loneliness in the Spring of 2018.

Further funding of £3.3 million was made available in June 2019 to expand provision via a three-strand approach, and a participant pathway through each which is based on three forms of ‘lived experience’ social action. This provides a closer to home view of youth social action, using the ‘My World, Our World, The World model’. This approach puts young people at the very heart of activity and connects them authentically to causes they can address.

The three strands that programme activity will be delivered under are:

  • Community spaces
  • Schools – Primary to Secondary transition
  • Bereavement support for young people.

In September 2019, £245k of additional #iwill Fund monies were awarded to Coop Foundation to run an extension to their #iwill Fund scheme. This will launch in 2020 and will use a crowdfunding model to offer young people the chance to take part in meaningful fundraising activities to improve community spaces. The scheme will see young people come together to form an idea of how to improve a community space in conjunction with a supporting organisation. A crowdfunding campaign will then be created to fund these ideas.

An #iwill Fund grant of up to 50% of the overall target will be available. The #iwill Fund money is pledged upon evidence of community commitment and verification of the idea and will be available once the final overall target has been reached.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, This £3 million partnership, using their investment from their Diamond Jubilee fundraising, aims to reach an extra 20,000 young people by 2021. The DofE will work with established DofE centres in schools, clubs and other organisations across the UK to ensure the funding supports more disadvantaged young people in their DofE journey. Beneficiaries include Paignton Community & Sport Academy

Young Manchester’soriginal £4 million programme, the ‘Youth and Play Fund’, launched on the 30 November 2017. It aimed to make youth social action business-as-usual for organisations across Manchester by 2020. Young Manchester used strengths and place-based approaches, delivered through a network it created of voluntary and community sector organisations, businesses, schools, universities, health bodies and housing providers. All these partners were committed to embedding social action within open access youth and play provision, and into the lives of young people. Building upon its success, a further £3.2 million is available through its Youth and Play Fund, which has been launched for 2020-22 and is open for applications (opened in November 2019, deadline for applications 04 December 2019). Details can be found here: https://www.youngmanchester.org/

Team London, the volunteering part of the Greater London Authority (GLA), created a £1.7 million ‘Young London Inspired’ programme. They are delivering much of their work in both primary and secondary schools through the ‘Team London Young Ambassadors’ scheme, reaching young people who aren’t currently participating in social action. Alongside this a small grants fund (now closed for applications) for the delivery of projects using youth social action to bring about positive mental health and other wellbeing outcomes for young people, whilst also benefiting their community. GLA will build on existing learning from their targeted approaches to close the socio-economic participation in youth social action and an additional £740,000 will see GLA continue its ‘Team London Young Ambassadors work’ in 2020 to 2022. This will include an enhanced programme for pupil referral units, alternative provision and SEND schools; a universal offer to schools; continued personal development for teachers and sector support and advocacy.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation & Esmée Fairbairn Foundation’s£3.6 million partnership will see both organisations work in partnership to create and deliver the ‘Act for Change’programme. The fund will provide resources for young people to challenge social injustice, find ways of overcoming inequality and give voice to issues they are experiencing. They have completed their first grant round and have also released additional investment in Spring 2019. Grants will build on existing work, with the aim to support organisations to build on what they do, develop quality and sustainability and embed practice.

Clarion Futures (working alongside Housing Association Youth Network) are jointly investing with the #iwill Fund £1.6 millioninto developing their existing model of Community Ambassador programmes for social housing residents (aged 11-19) to be expanded across the country. To deliver the programmes on the ground, other housing associations and non-profit youth organisations will have the opportunity to apply for a £10,000 start-up grant. This sits alongside the work of Peabody Housing who will deliver Young Leader programmes in London, which will support 720 people to design and deliver events, workshops and activities which will benefit 1,600 of their peers and the wider community.

In September 2019 additional #iwill Fund monies of £290,550 were awarded which will be matched to provide £581k of additional funding to extend the scheme which will:

  • Engage younger age groups through a Mini-Ambassadors model.
  • Provide high quality transition opportunities from the Community Ambassadors Programme and Leaders through becoming Lead Ambassadors and Lead Advisors.
  • Embed sustainable solutions that can be scaled through investing in the training of social action connectors who will signpost over 1,000 new young people into future social action opportunities.

Delivery began in December 2019 and is scheduled to be completed by December 2021.

Ormiston Trust are working through Ormiston Academies Trust to develop a model which will make social action a central part of a young person’s journey through school, using their network of 34 academy schools as well as the multiplier effect of engaging feeder and local partner schools. Their proposal is made up of five elements has been put together with the aim of embedding high quality youth social action in the academy network. Their aspiration is that every Ormiston student (27,000) will have a fresh experience of youth social action.

The Premier League Charitable Fund is the charitable arm of the Premier League. They have launched a £3 million fund working with Club Community Organisations to deliver Premier League community programmes using sport and football as a way of engaging hard to reach young people. As part of the skills development aspects of these programmes, opportunities will be provided to engage young people in social action. This incorporates a primary school programme, a skills development programme for young people with risk factors at key transitional points and a sports outreach programme which is delivered in community settings.’

Children in Need This £1.17million fund will be delivered over three years. It compromises three distinct but connected strands of work that will promote and enable youth social action, all of which will be led by young people. The three stands are:

  • A funding pot to support young people who face disadvantage or barriers to inclusion to take part in social action projects
  • An initiative to embed youth social action into schools, using BBC Children in Need’s unique position and reach into the sector
  • A youth leadership programme that will provide young people with the skills and meaningful opportunities to lead but will also provide learning for the sector about best practice in this area.

Ernest Cook Trust This £3 million Green Influencers Scheme is a three year programme which aims to assist young people to create deep, lasting and meaningful connections with the natural environment and to embed a culture where youth social action becomes the norm. Over the three years they estimate that 5,400 young people will benefit as green influencers, with a further 15,000+ being involved in youth social action in the green action project teams.

Dunhill Medical Trust This £1 million partnership will support My Home Life (MHL) in collaboration with The Linking Network to deliver a three-year programme of work. This funding will expand the reach of the Care Home Friends and Neighbours (CHFaNs) initiative; with a view to transforming the lives of young people, particularly those from more disadvantaged backgrounds through volunteering with older people in care homes across England. CHFaNs seeks to inspire, guide and make it easier for young people in primary schools, clubs and community organisations to connect with residents, relatives and staff in care homes. MHL will help young people kick-start the habit of community volunteering and other forms of social action early in life, developing skills for the future and supporting them to feel part of a national effort to connect generations for mutual benefit.

In addition, the #iwill Fund has also made a number of direct grants:

Mumsnet received a £66,000 investment to support research into the attitudes of parents to youth social action. This found that 9 in 10 believe it’s important for their child to get involved in activities that help others or the environment, while more than 8 out of 10 agree that voluntary activities should be part of their child’s education.

One Million Mentors received investment of £30,000 to support a pilot to test the potential of the business community in the West Midlands to promote and support young people to take part in youth social action via mentoring. Investment was used to recruit and train mentors, update an online platform to include and track youth social action, create training and communications materials for mentors to showcase the value of youth social action, and how to signpost young people to opportunities. Materials will be available online, with case studies and content widely available to support others who engage young people.

WE, with support from Rumi Foundation, the original award is to expand their WE programme with £3 million to scale across England, trying out new technology to reach more primary & secondary schools. This programme will create open access provision for the WE programme in schools across the country and would give us considerable opportunity to influence their programme to really embed the journey of youth social action into their programme.

In December 2018 WE were awarded additional funding to develop their model further by working with 200 schools in the Birmingham and West Midlands areas. The shift to a place based, localised way of working has an eye on sustainability. The whole school approach to delivery will work to embed social action in the lives of students, and across entire schools and communities. The aim is to create communities that buys into and will eventually self-sustain the embedment of social action in their local areas.

At the 2019 WE Day event, three young people from the #iwill Fund Leadership Board explained what the #iwill Fund is about. See their segment and hear from young people participating in youth social action

Careers & Enterprise Companymatched an investment of £45,000 from the #iwill Fund to develop resources and training materials to support Careers & Enterprise Advisors within schools understand the role social action plays in career development and to then support the embedding of this work into schools.

Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade, are jointly investing £1.8 million into this three year project, where JLGB plan to expand and develop their existing Evolveprogramme in order to build a self-sustaining, community-wide, collective impact project that supports young people who face intrinsic barriers to participation. This work will be underpinned by an online platform that provides training, social action opportunities, awards, and qualifications in a trusted and culture sensitive way.

Global Action Plan, the project will involve collaboratively designing a teacher community and support programme called Transform Our World, (TOW) providing classroom and online support to more teachers and students in disadvantaged areas. They will work with partners to extend accessibility of green social action opportunities, expand their award winning ‘Water Explorer’ portal to include online support and signpost a range of high quality green social projects on different topics. It will then expand to include general volunteering topics. The project is based on the delivery of the Water explorer programme, which sets students challenges to investigate global and local water issues before designing a way to engage their whole school in water saving efforts.

Liverpool Football Club Foundation, the original grant so the launch of a £1 million partnership. Over a three-year period, the LFC Foundation will work with 24 Liverpool schools in areas of high deprivation to deliver 348 different social impact projects; all of which will develop the skills and knowledge of those taking part and will benefit wider society as the projects will be developed with their local community in mind.

In September 2019 they were awarded an additional £112,500 of #iwill Fund monies, which they will again fully match with their funds. The scheme launched in November 2019 and sees them expand their current #iwill Fund youth social action work by: including children aged between 7-9 years; piloting their approach in Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools; piloting their approach with alternative education providers; and expanding their work geographically into Kirkby, which is an area of Merseyside that faces high deprivation.

The Learning Hub

The Learning Hub supports, and builds on, the activities of the #iwill Fund. It has two strategic objectives:

  1. To inform the strategic and investment direction of the #iwill Fund. This will ensure that the Leadership Board and #iwill Fund delivery partners are able to target funds into the right areas, ages and approaches, where it is really needed
  2. To strengthen and connect the youth social action sector by enabling and facilitating the sharing of learning, data and insights across delivery partners, including what does and doesn’t work. Sharing key insights and learning more broadly within the wider youth social action sector.

The Learning Hub was commissioned by the #iwill Fund Leadership Board to provide insight and intelligence to inform and shape future decisions. In addition the work of the Learning Hub is designed to provide an invaluable source of information and support to the #iwill Fund delivery partners.

However, the Learning Hub will also reach beyond these – to delivery organisations providing youth social action opportunities and the institutions within which youth social action is embedded; other funders who may support youth social action; and the wider research community seeking to increase understanding of youth social action.

The Learning Hub has developed three workstreams which will support its objectives. This will allow us to support funders in making decisions about how to support youth social action now, and to capitalise on the evidence generated through the #iwill Fund to create a legacy of evidence to support funding and delivery in the future.


This work will develop our understanding of barriers and enablers in building and strengthening sustained youth social action. It will support the identification of emerging practice and the testing of potential new solutions as well as help guide investment decisions.

Sector Evidence Plan

This work will build our understanding of what youth social action achieves, how to reach under-served groups, and how to sustain youth social action.

Quality Practice

This work will deepen our understanding of what it takes to deliver quality youth social action.