Thanks to the generosity of some key donors, OCF was able to boost the government- and lottery-funded Youth Social Action Fund by 172%, meaning we could make 15 grants totalling £72,870 to local charities leading the way in engaging young people.
Youth social action, such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering, has huge potential to create enjoyable opportunities and skills development for young people, benefitting local people and places. These activities also develop the skills and knowledge of young people that employers look for.
A funding collaboration between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the National Lottery aims to raise the level and quality of youth social action by 50% by 2020, taking the percentage of young people that volunteer from 40% to 60%. Community foundations across the UK are the chosen partners for distributing funding to groups that are making a difference to young people in their local communities.
The fund was also the chance for community foundations to seek additional contributions from donors particularly interested in projects involving young people. As part of the funding process a small number of key OCF donors and fundholders were invited to join the Youth Social Action Fund grant-awarding panel as observers.
During the panel meeting, several of these donors were inspired to provide match funding so that more of the applications could be funded. Seeing the potential of the projects put forward was a brilliant way for OCF to engage donors who were new to grant-making. As Bridget McGing, Deputy Director at The Pears Foundation puts it: “Match funding is like giving [charities] a new superpower, a new weapon, a new challenge to get their teeth into. It can reinvigorate their fundraising.”
The panel also benefited from the participation of several specialists from Oxfordshire’s youth sector: Emmy O’Shaunessey, Sara Fernandez and Richard Colebrook. We owe them our thanks for their expertise and assistance, and plan to replicate this model for future panels, which will have different priority outcomes.
One project funded was OCVA’s “MAD Week”, where 60 students from Bartholomew School in Eynsham will spend a week volunteering with 10 different West Oxfordshire charities. Through the volunteering the students undertake they will be contributing to the delivery of services around homelessness, mental health, physical and learning disabilities, the elderly, refugees and asylum seekers, alcohol/substance misuse and young carers. A team of students will act as ‘journalists’ for the project and will produce a film at the end showing what has been achieved.
Another project from Volunteer It Yourself will engage 20 young people not in education, employment or training in a work experience placement with hardware retailer Wickes. Each young person will complete guided learning sessions and full days on site over the course of project in order to achieve a City & Guilds entry level 3 skills accreditation.
The full list of groups funded from the Youth Social Action Fund and match-funding is as follows:
- Ark T Centre
- Banbury Community Church
- Barnardos, Safer Futures,
- Base 33
- Didcot TRAIN Youth Project
- Hub Ventures
- Oxford Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre
- Oxfordshire My Life My Choice Association
- OYAP Trust
- Real Time Video Ltd
- The Pump House Project
- Thrive Leys
- VIY – Volunteer It Yourself
- Youth Challenge Oxfordshire