The Big Lottery Fund is the largest distributor of National Lottery funding and has awarded £8.5billion to projects across the UK since 2004. The most popular programme it runs is National Lottery Awards for All, which receives over 13,000 applications in England per year. Many of these applications are from schools, academies and school-related organisations such as PTAs.
Schools are able to apply to the Awards for All programme for between £300 and £10,000 to deliver community-led projects. We believe that strong, vibrant communities are built and renewed by the people living in them so we are targeting National Lottery funding at grassroots groups that truly involve the people they serve throughout the life of the project.
In light of some recent changes to the programme, here’s some support for schools and some things to be aware of when applying…
National Lottery Awards for All has three funding priorities and all projects must meet at least one of them. These are: bringing people together and building strong relationships in and across communities; improving the places and spaces that matter to communities; and enabling more people to fulfil their potential by working to address issues at the earliest possible stage.
Julie Galano, Head of Central Funding at the Big Lottery Fund, says: ‘It’s important that all groups involve the wider community in their project design, development and delivery. Please tell us how you’ve done this. We believe this will help your project to be better supported by the energy and strengths that exist within your community and it is more likely to be successful as a result. Schools are often at the very heart of the community, so they can sometimes be the best placed organisation to deliver such projects.’
Julie continues: ‘We’ve funded some fantastic projects through Awards for All, however, to make sure that National Lottery funding gets to grassroots projects at the heart of their communities we have changed the focus of our funding. We are especially interested in hearing about projects that are shaped and driven by the people and communities they serve, which means that some of the projects that used to be funded by Awards for All may not be funded now.’
Successful projects from schools will be able to demonstrate significant involvement or benefit to the wider community. Projects that appear to deliver expected activities of schools are not likely to meet our objectives, e.g. improvements to facilities, buildings and playgrounds; staff training; and equipment used in lessons.
Timing and logistics
There is no closing date for National Lottery Awards for All, but we recommend that your application is submitted at least twelve weeks before the project is due to start, as it takes around ten weeks to reach a decision on applications, and a further two weeks to pay out if the application is successful.
Julie adds, ‘We advise applicants to read through our guidance before applying. Schools should take half-terms and holidays into account when deciding on the start dates for their project as we may have questions about the application during the assessment process. If we’re unable to get in touch with you, this could delay how quickly we can make a decision.’
The bank account should be in the name of the school unless they’re using a Local Authority or Academy Trust bank account. Schools also need to provide their Department for Education number on the application form, along with their income from the last year, which we will verify.
Who should apply?
The legally responsible contact needs to be the Headteacher, and the main contact should be someone from the school who can answer any questions that the assessment team may have about the project.
National Lottery Awards for All expects all applications to be completed by the organisation applying. ‘Some businesses promote their services or imply that they are acting on behalf of the Big Lottery Fund, or even complete application forms for schools and community groups,’ says Julie. ‘The Big Lottery Fund do not feel that this is necessary and we have returned applications in the past where we have concerns that the school has not completed the application form themselves. We’re quite strict about this, as we offer lots of support for organisations looking to apply, should they require it, via the Big Advice Line and regular webinars.’
You can now apply to Awards for All online. You’ll be asked to upload a copy of the schools’ bank statement when you apply, so make sure you read the guidance about what needs to be shown on your statement.
Previously funded projects
In the 2016/17 financial year, National Lottery Awards for All made £68,967,510-worth of awards to community projects across England.
The average grant amount was £8,919 and the success rate was 63%. Across the UK in 2016/17, National Lottery Awards for All made £86,382,995-worth of awards to 10,368 community projects.
Newburn Manor Primary School in Newcastle upon Tyne was awarded £10,000 to run traditional outdoor activities for pupils and their grandparents, including wood-fired oven building, outdoor cooking and hen-handling sessions. The project also provided dementia awareness training. Mentoring support and creative outdoor activities helped develop and improve the confidence and self-esteem of pupils, and the intergenerational learning aspect of the project helped to improve the wellbeing of older people.
Batley Girls High School in Batley, West Yorkshire was awarded £9,300 to deliver a programme of support for girls who are identified as being vulnerable to mental health issues. The programme focuses on providing advice, guidance and mindfulness exercises, as well as practical tools to help students deal with mental health issues at the earliest possible stage.
Seaton Sluice First School Parent Teachers Association in Whitley Bay was awarded £9,000 to provide after-school singing sessions for children, alongside singing sessions in community venues such as care homes, where adults and children will be able to take part in sessions together. The project will enable the school to build positive links within the community, and it will improve the wellbeing of those who take part.