Future Ready Fund: Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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Got a question about the Future Ready Fund and the types of projects we're looking to support? Read our frequently asked questions to see if we've answered it here, or email us at [email protected] with any additional queries.

What level of grant is available?

Grants of £35,000-£50,000 are available for selected projects. Non-financial support will be provided, focusing on evaluation, with other support provided depending on the needs of the funded projects.

What is the application process?

The process will work in three stages; firstly we strongly recommend you find out more by attending a webinar; secondly by submitting an expression of interest form; and finally the shortlisted ideas will be invited to develop their ideas further through a meeting and final application form. Find out more about our application process.

What is the Future Ready Fund?

This fund is a grant funding programme funded and delivered by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation. Our education work focuses on preparing young people for the future, and research from Nesta has shown that a range of skills, including interpersonal skills, will be important for success in the future.

Nesta is therefore launching the Future Ready Fund to support high-potential, early-stage projects which target these and related skills.

What support will funded projects get?

Projects will benefit from Nesta’s direct support and advice. They will also benefit from being a part of a cohort of grantees, and will receive structured support through events and ongoing contact from Nesta and an evaluator appointed for and funded by Nesta.

Who can apply?

This fund is open to a range of organisations, including schools and colleges, social enterprises and charities in the UK, for projects delivered in the UK. Please see the expression of interest form question under ‘organisation type’ for a complete list.

When will funding be allocated?

Grant offers will be made in mid-February 2019.

What date and time will the call for expressions of interest close?

The call for expressions of interest will close on Monday 10th December at 9am.

What can the funds be used for?

  • Direct project costs
  • Staffing
  • Evaluation (on top of specialist evaluation support provided by Nesta and delivery partners) - at least 10% of the funding will need to be used for evaluation
  • Programme and business development

Which skills? And why target them?

We are seeking interventions that promote young people’s social and emotional skills, focusing on interpersonal skills and resilience. At a more detailed level we define these skills to include the following domains defined in the SPECTRUM framework:

  • Emotional intelligence, in particular how to build good relationships and collaborate effectively
  • Social and emotional competence, particularly in relation to collaboration
  • Resilience and coping
  • Perceptions of self (self-confidence and self-efficacy)
  • Motivation, goal orientation and perseverance

More detail about this framework and the sub-domains can be found in this document. The SPECTRUM framework includes two domains we will not be funding - ‘mental health and wellbeing’ and ‘metacognition’. This is because we feel ‘mental health and wellbeing’ requires a more targeted, specialist approach, and sits outside of the scope of the focus on social skills and resilience. We also feel that ‘metacognition’ sits outside of this scope and there is increasing provision in place to support related skills through the curriculum.

Social and emotional skills have a fast-improving evidence base: showing association between these skills and later life outcomes, and how they can be improved. Many of these skills underpin broader capabilities like collaborative problem-solving, a skill-set on which Nesta has previously focused. The skills, attitudes and behaviours described in the SPECTRUM framework are widely accepted as important, measurable and malleable.

For instance, there is evidence that self-efficacy, self-esteem and self-regulation are linked with long term positive wellbeing outcomes in adulthood. There are also links between these skills and academic attainment, with several meta-analyses reporting that social and emotional learning (SEL) programmes can positively impact school students’ academic performance.

There is also substantive evidence that SPECTRUM skills are malleable, with self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, social skills and resilience all associated with medium to high levels of malleability. Indeed, several large-scale meta-analyses have demonstrated that effective intervention programmes can have a long-term, positive impact on students’ social and emotional skills, with broader positive effects such as enhanced academic attainment and reduced substance use.

While early intervention is always beneficial, adolescence and the teenage years have also been identified as an important time for the development of social and emotional skills.

What kind of project are you looking for?

We are looking for projects that aim to develop at least one of the targeted skills. Projects can be delivered in school/college curriculum time or as an extra-curricular activity within schools/colleges, or be delivered outside of school/college entirely. We are open to the model that interventions use: this may include, but is not limited to, mentoring, social action, employment experience, in-curriculum approaches and project-based initiatives.

We are particularly interested in approaches to supporting these skills that utilise the evidence base in their design and delivery, and have a robust approach to evaluation - and are committed to developing, improving and refining their evaluation approaches. Find out more about our selection criteria.

If we have already begun our project do we still qualify? Or is it just for projects in the development stage?

Projects must have delivered the full intervention in at least one school or location, and have a clear model that can be replicated. Projects will also need to be able to demonstrate how they meet at least level 1 on the Nesta standards of evidence and are committed to growing and further understanding their impact. Find out more about our selection criteria.

What if our project/organisation defines or terms these skills differently?

We understand that there are many definitions and varied language used in this space, and whilst we support efforts to make language more consistent, we are open to different ways of describing these skills. We are keen to generate meaningful insights from our grantees that will support refinement and improvement of the language used to describe these skills.

Through the application process grantees will be asked to describe how they have defined relevant skills, including how they have used evidence.

In the final application form, we will ask applicants to explain how their definitions of skills link to the language used in the research, including as described in the SPECTRUM framework.

What is the expectation regarding evidence and evaluation?

Successful applicants will see evaluation as a strategic priority. They will have a clear and accurate sense of where their project / intervention is on the Nesta Standards of Evidence, a clear plan for how they want to improve their evaluation, and a desire to contribute to the sector’s wider understanding of how to develop these skills.