#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. From the end of 2020 The #iwill Campaign became known as the #iwill Movement. The #iwill Movement is supported by Volunteering Matters and UK Youth who have formed a consortium to host an independent #iwill Coordination Hub that will support the #iwill Movement until 2026. The #iwill Movement is UK wide 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 30 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.

In early 2020 DCMS and TNLCF announced further funding 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 additional funding of approximately £9.3m fund is delivered through the existing structures of the #iwill Fund. It is providing funding for youth social action opportunities provision (both general/universal and targeted provision) and is building on our current work on reducing the socio-economic participation gap and continue to share learning on how to do this.

The programme is not currently accepting any new Match Funder applications.

If you would like further information on 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 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 totalling £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.

A new award for £270,000 was made to Virgin money Foundation in December 2020 a second round of their “#iwill Take Action Fund” which launched in early 2021.

Sport England closed their £3 million Potentials Fund (PDF 1.4MB) 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 (PDF 236KB)

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 expanded 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 grants. They released their report into youth loneliness (PDF 1.7MB) 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. This activity was due to start in early 2020, but due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, plans for this are unable to be realised. The #iwill Fund are currently in discussions with Coop Foundation in regard to alternative plans.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, This £3 million partnership, using their investment from their Diamond Jubilee fundraising, aims to increase the involvement of disadvantaged young people in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award programme by supporting individuals and the youth groups or schools that they attend, as well as training the adults who will support them. Beneficiaries include Paignton Community & Sport Academy

In March 2021, DofE were awarded an additional £200,000 from the #iwill Fund, providing a combined pot of £400,000 to extend their Resilience Fund. This initiative is an emergency response to the impact that COVID-19 has had on young people who live in IMD areas 1 – 3, and those facing additional challenges (including SEND). It will provide funded places to individuals, while also supporting delivery of the DofE Award in youth centres in the target areas.

Young Manchester’s original £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 was made available through its Youth and Play Fund, for 2020-22 Youth social action will remain at the heart of this fund, as Young Manchester work towards their ambition of making Manchester the ‘City of Social Action’. The Youth and Play Fund is now closed for applications. 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 delivered much of their work in both primary and secondary schools through the ‘Team London Young Ambassadors’ scheme, reaching young people who weren’t currently participating in social action. Alongside this a small grants fund (now closed for applications) delivered projects using youth social action to bring about positive mental health and other wellbeing outcomes for young people, whilst also benefiting their community.

With successful delivery of this programme, further funding commitments have been made for its continuation. From 2021, the Team London Young Ambassadors work will deliver an enhanced programme to target and support Alternative Provision, Pupil Referral Units, and Special Educational Need and Disability (SEND) Schools, as well as its universal school-based social action programme, which will focus particularly on primary schools serving in areas of higher deprivation. ‘My London’ will build on the previous small grants fund and will provide capacity building support and multi-year funding to 15 youth focussed community organisations to collaborate in designing local models to engage vulnerable young people in social action and volunteering. The programme will increase social action opportunities for targeted groups of young people, amplify youth voice and embed the community designed models in targeted areas in London, these are Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge, Ealing and Hillingdon, and Greenwich and Lewisham. This stream opened for applications in early December 2020 closing 27 January 2021.

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 million into 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.

In June 2020 Clarion received further #iwill funding of £310,950 which they will match, to deliver a regional impact programme providing further opportunities for youth social action where it may not currently be happening. Additionally, it will part fund a youth exchange programme in partnership with the Royal Commonwealth Society.

The regional impact programme will explore how they can work with community groups, social enterprises and charities to embed youth social action. The programme will develop new strategic partnerships with organisations who will provide young people with resources and encourage social action around the themes of intergenerational connections, mental health and the environment.

The exchange programme will be an international exchange between young people in the UK and Cyprus. Ten young social housing residents, many of whom are likely to have never been abroad before, will travel to Cyprus to meet peers and share their experiences of how young people can make a difference in their communities through social action. They will then return home to share what they have learned with peers and youth organisations.

Ormiston Trust was awarded £962,480 from the #iwill Fund in November 2017, which was matched by £1,037,480 of their own funds. They 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.

In June 21 The Ormiston Trust was awarded a further £995,238 (matched by a further £995,238 of their own funds) for an additional two year programme. They will use the key learnings from their existing programme to further demonstrate and test social action practices across new institutions to; achieve ‘sector leader’ levels throughout; test and document all key resources and approaches in an education toolkit; enable up to 150 non-Ormiston schools in the next two years to start on their social action journey; and showcase to the whole education sector how to start up social action in their settings.

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.’

BBC Children in Need (CIN) This £1.17 million 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.

In December 2020 the #iwill Fund Leadership Board awarded BBC Children in Need a further £1,757,575, which CiN are matching with £1,727,575 of their funds.

This further funding incorporates four distinct areas of work, including:

  • Youth Social Action Fund - Additional #iwill Fund monies will enable CiN to double the scale and impact of this funding programme.
  • Through a partnership with the Trussell Trust, CiN will provide a platform for young people with lived experience of food insecurity and acute poverty to share their stories, and to use their unique insight to shape decisions and co-create solutions on a local and national level.
  • Violence Affecting Young People - the youth social action aspect of this strand of work involves young people working together to affect change in regard to solutions for youth violence
  • The Young Black Lives programme covered the following areas of work:
    • Investing in, supporting and celebrating young people’s ideas to enhance their local communities
    • Supporting and providing access to resources to develop young leaders, and promote youth leadership and talent

Supporting young people to tell their stories and provide opportunities to influence change

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.

The Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) is creating a £3.1 million ‘Peer Research Network’ which will establish a national network of local peer researchers and social action research teams in areas with high levels of serious youth violence. The network will help to address the lack of accessible, high-quality opportunities for active youth participation and involvement in this space. It will deepen understanding of the nature and causes of serious youth violence, harnessing young people’s lived experience to inform better practice, programmes and policies at local, regional and national levels. Young researchers’ learnings and recommendations will inform strategic direction and funding priorities, giving participants the potential to impact on how almost £200m of funding is allocated and evaluated.

To establish the network YEF will launch an open, competitive funding programme in April 2021 seeking proposals from expert youth and research organisations who are committed to putting young people in the lead. These ‘delivery partners’ will support young people who have been or who are on the cusp of being touched by serious youth violence, to act as peer researchers, research respondents or changemakers carrying out youth social action projects in their local community. YEF will appoint Delivery Partners in each region of England. YEF will also commission a National Social Action and Peer Research Partner, and a Learning Partner, both of whom will help inform the approach. More information about the work of YEF can be found at https://youthendowmentfund.org... and the funding programme will be advertised here once it opens for applications.

The Dulverton Trust have been funded to deliver a 2 year grants programme which seeks to promote youth voice. The programme will fund charities to deliver youth social action projects, within key focus areas identified through research. Organisations will be funded in sectors which historically have not implemented youth voice or delivered youth social action projects. These are rural communities and the heritage sector, with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic representing an opportunity to change the way organisations in this sector work with and listen to young people. The Dulverton Trust will also design structures to embed youth voice into their own grant making and decision making. An external consultant with expertise in developing good quality and meaningful participative approaches will help to develop a strategy ensuring young people’s involvement in the programme is developed in a meaningful way.

Bite Back 2030 will deliver a programme that empowers groups of young people to lead social action projects in schools to tackle food and health inequalities. The aim will be to build a movement of socially minded young food champions and change agents in their school communities. Young people will lead two extra-curricular campaigns during the programme. A structured campaign lasting two terms will be focused on improving the quality of school food. A self-directed campaign will build on skills and experiences, allowing young people to decide on the focus of activity. Some of the most disadvantaged schools in England will be targeted, in cities or towns where obesity and poverty rates are highest.

The project has been inspired by the threat to young people’s health emerging from the Covid 19 crisis.

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 was to expand their WE programme with £3 million to scale across England, trying out new technology to reach more primary & secondary schools. This programme was to create open access provision for the WE programme in schools across the country and would provide 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 had an eye on sustainability. The whole school approach to delivery worked to embed social action in the lives of students, and across entire schools and communities. The aim was 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

WE have now ceased active delivery in the UK and will be compiling the WE Schools service-learning educational resources, campaign tools, and accompanying content/videos to make a version of the programme openly accessible online. They have invited participating WE Schools teachers to join their global community, whereby they will be provided e-support by one of WE’s North American based programme managers.

vInspired used an investment of £460,000 to support the strategic development of the vInspired offering, to launch the Inspired Card, stimulated by the success of the Young Scot Card and linked to the European Youth Card, and underpinned by enhancements to the vInspired platform.

Careers & Enterprise Company matched 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 Evolve programme 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 involved 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 worked 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.

In March 2020 they were awarded a further £676,700. Specifically for:

  • Expansion of the Transform Our World online hub and teacher training.
  • Regional schools-based social action programme engaging 19,200 young people.
  • Two national high profile events per year.
  • Coordination of youth led campaigns to put priorities for change to climate and nature to government and business leaders.
  • A media campaign to amplify youth calls for climate and nature delivering two million reach.

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 Scouts Association were awarded £1.2m in January 2021. They are increasing youth social action in young children by extending their provision to introduce Scouts groups for early years children, based on an initial idea by some of their Young Leaders. Every new Scout group will be co-led by Young Leaders to support the children to complete social action and develop life skills.

Volunteering Matters were awarded £370,000 in February 2021. They will use the grant to deliver a two year programme which will see key aspects of the #iwill Campaign’s work taken forward and expanded upon, such as the expansion of the numbers of Young Ambassadors and Champions. Volunteering Matters are the lead partner, with the other partner being UK Youth. Volunteering Matters and UK Youth have engaged the Centre for Youth Impact to deliver the ‘Evidence and Insights function’ The proposal will provide three support functions to drive the #iwill Campaign movement forward:

  • #iwill Coordination Hub;
  • #iwill Ambassadors and Champions Delivery Partner; and
  • Evidence and Insights Delivery Partner.
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.

All the #iwill Fund Learning Hub reports to date can be found at the Centre for Youth Impact’s website.