Rocket Fund: Stage 1 review

In January 2017, we completed the first pilot of Rocket Fund. Ten pioneering teachers helped us test the idea of a crowdfunding platform just for schools. We were encouraged by the results and are now planning a second, larger scale pilot. 

Below is a summary of the results of our first pilot. We're now on the lookout for organisations that would like to help us support schools nationwide, if you're inspired to get involved or have any questions, then please get in touch with us here.

The inspiration for Rocket Fund came from a highly successful charity in the USA called Donors Choose. Over the last 16 years it's raised over $500m for school projects across the country and is still growing strong (last year it raised $114m alone). Nesta is always keen to transfer good ideas to new contexts, so we approached Donors Choose and the team has been very supportive of us bringing the concept to the UK. 

So we know the model works well in the US, but would it work in the UK?

Due to the budgetary pressure that schools are currently under, we had a hunch that it would. However, before we could justify raising investment, we had to test some key assumptions for the UK...

Some of the projects that were funded

Newington Green Primary School (Islington, London)

Raised £1,523 for VR headsets to support learning across the school and enable students to experience places beyond their normal routine.

  • Students that benefited: 350
  • Age: 5 - 11
  • 73 per cent on free school meals


The Hyde School (Barnet, London)

Raised £1,484 for a 3D printer, to transform their lessons and prepare students for the future workplace.

  • Students that benefited: 365
  • Age: 5 - 11
  • 36 per cent on free school meals

All the successful projects...


A comparison​

As you can see from the table above, we’ve still got a long way to go before we reach anywhere near the success of Donors Choose. But the early signs are promising.


Other interesting stats

Total amount raised: £5,000 + £3,000 match funding (from Nesta)

Total number of donors: 162

Average donation: £30

Smallest donation: £5

Largest donation: £500


Key learnings

  • Teachers in the UK are willing to crowdfund and people are willing to donate towards school projects online.

  • Teachers at schools in poorer areas (defined by the percentage of students on free school meals) are still able to fundraise from their extended networks.

  • It’s a great way for schools to engage their wider community.

  • There is educational value in the crowdfunding process itself​.

The next steps

We’re now busy planning stage two and looking for support to take this concept nationwide.

We’ve just launched a joint campaign with EdSpace called the 1 Mile Project, aiming to bring the schools and businesses together around Tech City. Register here if you'd like to get involved:

If you're a teacher not in the Tech City area, then you can still launch a project by going to the Rocket Fund homepage and clicking 'get started'.

If you're an organisation that would like to help us support schools nationwide then get in touch with us here.

Any questions or comments, then feel free to leave a message below.


Ben Gill

Ben Gill

Ben Gill

Senior Programme Manager

Ben was a Senior Programme Manager in the Innovation Lab's Education Team.

View profile