1. We are looking to support activities in England by innovative organisations and programmes that:
- Are able to demonstrate that the benefits of their proposals will be in England only.
- Are passionate about the opportunity to use social action as a mechanism to build parents' and carers' confidence, knowledge and skill in supporting children aged four and under to meet developmental milestones.
- Are already operating a proven social action programme, supporting achievement of developmental milestones for children aged 0-4, and have the capacity and energy to scale into new areas across the UK.
- Have a track record in mobilising the time and talents of volunteers.
- Can demonstrate that they have appropriate networks or channels to reach out to people in the identified areas for scaling the existing initiative.
- Have a commitment to measuring their on-going performance and progress against our Standards of Evidence.
2. Nesta can only fund projects which advance our charitable objects for public benefit. The Early Years Social Action Fund is able to support public services, charities, social enterprises or partnerships led by these organisations.
For-profit organisations may apply if there is a strong argument for public benefit and if they can demonstrate that they require public funds to scale, or if they do so as a partnership with a not-for-profit organisation as the lead applicant.
We may impose conditions and restrictions on private benefit and profit derived from our funding. In particular, if you are a for-profit business, we may require you to make technology developed using the grant freely available, to reinvest profits from commercial exploitation back into your project to deliver greater public benefit, or to return a share of profits to Nesta. If you have any questions about this, please contact us on [email protected].
3. We can support incorporated entities and unincorporated associations with formal membership structures, but not individuals.
4. A number of organisations can apply together, but one must act as lead and take responsibility for the others. For-profit organisations are only able to apply individually if they demonstrate a strong case for public benefit and the need for public funds to scale.
5. As the Early Years Social Action Fund is financed by the Office of Civil Society (OCS), grants will come from public funds and must not be used in a way that constitutes unapprovable state aid.
6. While applicants can be established in any part of the UK, the benefits of their proposals should be in England only.
7. We cannot fund innovations which are party political - or which support or promote religious activity - and can only fund limited paid for marketing or advertising
Organisations or partnerships must be able to demonstrate:
- A clear plan to reach many more children, especially from families who are ‘just about managing’.
- The culture and ambition to scale their emergent, impactful approach.
- The ability to achieve ambitious volunteer recruitment targets, including mobilising at least 250 volunteers who will likely give at least 10 hours a month.
- Clear existing evidence of impact for beneficiaries (e.g improvement in developmental milestones for children aged 0-4, as well as an increase in parent/ carer confidence and knowledge in supporting children to develop).
- Capacity to deliver in the timeline of the fund.
- Match funding (including in kind) of at least 33 per cent.
- Existing connections/a pipeline of leads in the local areas they wish to scale to.
- A clear plan for scale and sustainability beyond the lifetime of the fund.
Selection for the final stage will be based on:
Impact/public benefit: We are interested in supporting organisations with a track record in improving development for children aged 0-4, and in particular in working with parents /carers to achieve this.
We are interested in understanding the nature of activities you (and partners) deliver currently, as well as those you intend to run through this fund (should it differ).
Reaching and retaining volunteers: We are looking for innovations that are ready to scale. They must already have an innovation that has been tested and developed, and is now ready to grow to benefit many more people.
Capacity: We need to understand the capacity of the organisation or partnership to deliver a scaling programme. This organisational capacity will rely on having the right skills and capabilities, good and reliable systems that track and monitor volunteers, as well as buy in from senior leadership.
Sustainability: Proposals will need to demonstrate that they do not create ongoing demand for grant funding. We want to understand how the innovation will achieve sustainability and the applicant’s assumptions about how the idea will grow, as well as risks and challenges in developing and scaling the concept.
Innovation: Proposals will need to demonstrate how they are innovative. For a fund of this kind, we are seeking ideas that have achieved evidence of impact and are operating, but are not ubiquitous or common practice across England.