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.

Young people do science experiment as part of City Year programme

City Year programme

The challenge

Our public services are facing increasing demands while under significant funding pressure. We need radical new models of public service delivery.

Our intervention

The Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund supported 52 promising innovations that mobilised citizen time and skills alongside public services, from Code Club volunteers helping children learn computing, to GoodSAM, an app that alerts trained first aiders to emergencies nearby. The £14 million partnership between Nesta and the Cabinet Office helped innovations like this to grow both their reach and their evidence of impact.

The result

  • More than 70,000 generous people across England gave their time and expertise to help nearly 175,000 people.
  • The innovations leveraged a further £18 million of investment as they grew. Some have reached significant scale, able to deliver their services to any public service in England that commissions them. For example, any local authority can request a Shared Lives Plus caring scheme (matching disabled adults or older people with carers to share their family and community life).
  • We’ve published 30 evaluations to date, including two randomised control trials that empirically show the impact of volunteer-led tutoring on students’ GCSE and A Level scores.