Running the UK Portfolio which was the focus of my second role and part of my third role at the Fund meant looking after a whole range of Funding programmes, which I wrote about here.
In April 2020 when I took on this role we only had a few funding programmes open — the Climate Action Fund, the Digital Fund and Leaders With Lived Experience. We underwent a redesign of the funding strategy across our open and responsive programmes, as well as in response to the pandemic. Different members of the team led aspects of this and we also worked closely with the UK Funding Committee, the previous CEO and Chair of the Fund, and through extensive engagements with external partners and networks. Programmes that were developed and then launched during this time included:
Growing Great Ideas
The Growing Great Ideas programme provides significant, long-term funding (over a period of up to ten years) to organisations working closely within their networks and ecosystems to build generative, transformative infrastructure for the public good. This is infrastructure to support a transition from now to next. The work we did to design and develop this programme happened over many months, drawing on the expertise of a brilliant International advisory group and taking the UK Funding Committee on a journey too. Alliance Magazine featured an article on the programme. The work we did to get decision-makers on board is found here, including some of the frameworks we used. The initial 9 grants are found here.
Bringing People Together
The Bringing People Together programme was designed to focus on “bold and experimental responses to bringing people together using new, or new combinations of approaches.” We wanted to move away from one-off events and instead invest in longer-term change, community infrastructure and collective action.
The IKEA partnership — the Fund’s first ever funding partnership with a corporate — saw the launch of Places Called Home — to inspire and enable activities that build more connected, more resilient and more sustainable communities and places. What I found most exciting about the partnership is the ‘everyday-ness’ of the two brands within social infrastructure. Both are prominent in the public consciousness — in peoples’ homes and on street corners across the UK— making it possible to raise awareness and encourage action at a mass public scale. It was also great to work with Participatory City on the programme.
The Emerging Futures Fund
The Emerging Futures Fund was established to invest in communities to bring forth their collective imaginations, to seed and centre new narratives and projects that could pattern entirely different futures. It was launched in response to Covid-19, which irrevocably transformed the ways we live, work, travel and connect with others. The Fund sought to go beyond an emergency response to the devastating effects of the pandemic on individuals and communities, opening up a space for change, for healing and for new possibilities to take root. It was described by the OECD and the Observatory of Public Sector Innovation as a “unique exploratory funding mechanism for proactive policymaking.”
Through the EFF, we funded 52 communities across the UK to ask questions and explore together what renewal could mean for them. Emerging from their work is a web of new narratives, resources, relationships, and ideas — seeds for the future these communities are building today. These include this film based on New Constellations’ work in Barrow-in-Furness, this film on imagining a new future for land in the UK: with land we can, Radicle Civics by Dark Matter Labs, Hilary Cottam’s paper on the need for a new infrastructure for building community capacity, Jessica Prendergast’s blog on attachment economics, Gentle/Radical’s Doorstep Revolution, CIVIC SQUARE’s Department of Dreams, the Design Council’s Design, differently project centring on community-led design and a community foresight resource from WCVA. These are just some of all the brilliant things seeded — more can be found on the website.
The New Infrastructure
The New Infrastructure Programme was created to give critical community infrastructure organisations the opportunity, space and time to plan for the future. We focused the funding on infrastructure organisations who support informal groups, local social action, specialist communities, and voluntary and community sector organisations across the UK, recognising they provide a uniquely systemic lens on what needs to change, where there are gaps and where there is potential.
The Platinum Jubilee
The last programme I designed was the Platinum Jubilee Fund. It’s a pretty standard funding programme so I only mention it because I managed to get caring about ‘future generations’ in there as a frame.