About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

The Future Ready Fund grantees

In October 2018, we launched the Future Ready Fund seeking early-stage, high potential interventions focused on developing social and emotional skills.

At that stage, it was a £250,000 fund. The response to our open call for project ideas was huge, with over 300 applicants - charities, schools, social enterprises, for-profits and colleges - submitting work for projects across the UK.

This demonstrated the significant demand for funding -for interventions that can effectively target these skills, particularly resilience, self-confidence, motivation. For Nesta, improving skills provision to meet future demand is a priority, and with so many high-potential applications in the mix, we made the decision to double the funding available to £500,000.

We are excited to announce the ten successful projects who demonstrated great potential to expand their work, learn more about how it develops the target skills in young people, and achieve long-term, sustainable impact.

Projects will also receive non-financial support from the fund’s evaluation partner at the University of Sussex, led by Professor Robin Banerjee. The team at Sussex has considerable expertise relating to young people’s development, particularly in the context of social and emotional skills. They will support grantees to develop their evaluation approaches to better understand how their interventions improve the targeted skills. Support and guidance will be provided directly to each grantee through workshops and 1:1 conversations, and the University of Sussex will also be producing an evaluation report on the work of the fund as a whole.

This innovative and ambitious cohort represents Nesta’s commitment to developing a broader education system that is serious about supporting wider skills alongside academic success. Over the next year, we’ll be working with our evaluation and research teams, as well as new partners, to develop our Future Ready programme further.

And now for the grantees, the ten bold and promising interventions that we are supporting:

Franklin Scholars

Awarded £45,000


Franklin Scholars run a successful peer mentoring programme, matching Year 10s and at-risk Year 7s to develop key skills and boost progress at school. This includes weekly group activities, academic tuition and coaching. The training and mentoring resources for the Year 10s have been designed around an ABCD Framework including social and emotional skills. Nesta’s grant will allow them to expand to more schools - particularly those in communities with lower educational outcomes - and to conduct a formal evaluation process.

Follow them on Twitter @FranklinScholar

MacMillan Academy

Awarded £50,000


MacMillan Academy, in Middlesbrough, is a secondary school and sixth form college that is the lead school for the HeadStart programme for sixth form students. This is a whole college partnership approach to supporting students’ resilience, and will be delivered across five colleges in Middlesbrough. The programme involves a range of interventions, including training peer resilience ‘champions’, alongside universal interventions to create sustainable school culture change. Nesta’s grant will be funding the programme to expand to more post-16 colleges, having been tested at primary and secondary, and to further evaluate the impact of the programme.

Follow them on Twitter @macmillanschool

CU Trust

Awarded £50,000

Children_s University_logo.jpg

Children’s University (CU) have created a digital platform for students across the UK to track the activities they’re engaging in outside of the classroom, and to recognise the skills they have gained from them. This is an evolution of their original paper ‘skills passport’ for 5-14 year olds. Students log activities in the platform and are encouraged to then reflect on the skills they’re building. Teachers and activity provider partners can also better understand engagement in activities and skill development, and adjust provision as a result. The grant from Nesta will allow them to evaluate and develop this digital offer in secondary schools.

Follow them on Twitter @CU_Trust


Awarded £42,000


Khulisa run ‘Face It’, a 6-8 week drama and arts programme made up of intensive workshops and 1:1 support. It is a personal development programme for young people who are at risk of offending or exclusion, building self-awareness and emotional intelligence. The course is delivered experientially using interactive and creative techniques and activities, with each programme tailored to the specific needs of the participants. The grant will allow Khulisa to expand the work - delivered successfully in prisons - to new schools and Pupil Referral Units across the UK.

Follow them on Twitter @KhulisaUK

Football Beyond Borders

Awarded £47,913


Football Beyond Borders utilises a young person’s passion for football to help them learn key social and emotional skills. They work with Key Stage 3 students, leading project-based classroom sessions alongside character-developing football activities with elements of problem-solving to instill values of resilience, teamwork and leadership. A half-termly transformative trip rewards behavioural change, with the overall aim being to reduce school exclusions and improve behaviour. The grant will be supporting their expansion to Blackpool, helping them to create a replicable model for further expansion.

Follow them on Twitter @fbeyondborders

Sidmouth College

Awarded £50,000


Sidmouth College is a Comprehensive Community College in Sidmouth, Devon, for students aged 11-19. The school has led the piloting of a six-week life skills course called ‘My Big Life’. It uses CBT techniques to help young people develop a toolkit of resilience and coping strategies, targeting students with low attendance and engagement with school life. The Future Ready Fund will be helping them expand the programme to at least 14 more schools across the South West, and to further evaluate the impact of the project in different contexts.

Follow them on Twitter @SidmouthCollege

Voice 21

Awarded £45,986


Voice 21 runs an oracy programme to help enable young people to find the voice they need to succeed in the 21st Century. They will use the grant to expand the programme - previously delivered in mainstream schools - to Pupil Referral Units in London, North-West England and Yorkshire and the Humber, helping students to improve their social, emotional and cognitive competence through developing oracy skills. The fully piloted professional development and whole-school improvement programme addresses both curriculum and pedagogy.

Follow them on Twitter @voice21oracy

Mind Moose

Awarded £45,000


Mind Moose is a fun, interactive online platform that helps children develop good mental wellbeing, and supports early intervention. They are running a new project specifically targeted at the transition between primary and secondary school, which the Future Ready Fund will be supporting through this grant. Lessons, activities and self-evaluation tools support children to understand how their brain works and learn new strategies to develop self-awareness, resilience and self-esteem.

Follow them on Twitter @mind_moose

Empathy Lab

Awarded £49,800

Empathy Lab_logo.jpg

Empathy Lab run an ‘empathy education programme’ called Empathy Explorers. This is a year-round empathy education programme, involving the whole school community, that builds the capacity of schools to develop young people’s empathy and literacy skills, and their social activism. The grant will help them scale to 8 new schools in Wales. Empathy Lab work with each school to create a bespoke plan to deliver the project, and schools join a year-long learning group with shared target outcomes in both literacy and empathy skills.

Follow them on Twitter @empathylabuk

Foundation for Positive Mental Health

Awarded £50,000


The Foundation for Positive Mental Health, based in Scotland, run a programme called Positive Mental Training, which the grant will help them transfer to a school context. Based on work in the health sector, the intervention involves an app with NHS-endorsed audio tracks on resilience and self-perception, tailored teacher training, peer-to-peer initiatives and workshops co-designed with students. They will be working with a small group of pilot schools in Scotland and England through the grant.

Follow them on Twitter @Dr_A_Dobbin


Jed Cinnamon

Jed Cinnamon

Jed Cinnamon

Senior Programme Manager, A Fairer Start

Jed was a senior programme manager in the fairer start mission at Nesta.

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Hannah Owen

Hannah Owen

Hannah Owen

Analyst, a fairer start mission

Hannah worked in Nesta's education team and focused on helping our education system make more effective use of technology and data.

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