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OCF’s Future-Building Fund takes a ground-breaking approach to supporting the local charitable sector, providing large grants to help ambitious charities significantly scale up their operation. The fund has recently awarded grants to Trax and Yellow Submarine, with more in the pipeline.

The Future-Building Fund brings together a group of like-minded individuals who share a big idea: investing in the long-term sustainability of local charities. Realising that small grants only provide temporary ‘sticking plasters’ for social problems, they decided to collaborate with OCF to create a named fund that would meet staffing or infrastructure costs for a portfolio of promising local charities.

With this fund, we don’t just hand the money over and run. Once an applicant is successful, OCF’s Future-Building panel appoints an experienced project manager to work with the charity to help them get the most out of the funding. Two recent examples are groups that have been leading the way for some time in making genuine improvements to people’s lives in Oxfordshire:


Trax was one of the first motor projects to be set up in the UK and has now been successfully supporting young people in Oxfordshire for 23 years. Originally set up to provide an alternative to custodial sentences for young car crime offenders, it now offers a far more comprehensive level of education and support. Their courses are based around mechanics and other practical skills such as catering and gardening. Alongside gaining a practical qualification the young people who access Trax get support and qualifications in English, Maths and ICT.

Using a grant from the Future-Building Fund, Trax plan to grow and expand the services and products that can be sold. Early stages of the launch in professional catering and bicycle repair services have proved – and in some instances exceeded – Trax’s financial model predictions. The Future-Building panel has agreed to fund capital expenditure and salary for a social enterprise leader.

Yellow Submarine

Award-winning charity Yellow Submarine has a clear objective to deliver services to high functioning people with learning disabilities. Its central-Oxford café employs several young adults with learning disabilities as apprentices. Within the same building, utilising both income and volunteers generated through the café, the charity runs additional clubs and activities. Yellow Submarine has developed a formula that is allowing it to create life-changing opportunities and become completely self-sustaining as a charity.

Ready to scale up the model, with an ambition to open similar enterprise centres across other parts of Oxfordshire, but without the staffing and structures to achieve it, Yellow Submarine’s Director Toby Staveley approached the Future-Building panel, who agreed to fund this organisational development. A project manager has been allocated to work with Toby to help him define the milestones and put a detailed plan of action in place.

Future-Building panel member Marion Stevenson DL commented: “The Future-Building project now has real momentum and we are seeing the exciting possibility of making a significant, long-term difference to the sustainability and core strength of some excellent organisations. For the Future-Building donors, this really is what good philanthropy looks like: giving intelligently to charities in our area.”

Read the full case study on the Future-Building Fund

Apply to the Future-Building Fund