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Inspiring Futures

Inspiring Futures

The COVID-19 Inspiring Futures Programme has been developed in partnership with Youth Futures Foundation.

The Inspiring Futures Programme is now closed .

You can view the grants that have been awarded through the Inspiring Futures programme here.  You can also read here about our Evaluation and Learning from the programme.



BBC Children in Need and Youth Futures Foundation are partnering to deliver Inspiring Futures, a £6 million programme to fund positive activities which support children and young people to achieve their potential on their journey towards employment.

The COVID-19 pandemic is heightening existing challenges for children and young people looking to access further education, training, and work.

There are concerns that the impact of lockdown and prolonged social distancing post-lockdown will have a particularly detrimental effect on those who are already struggling to gain employment, and it will also reduce the opportunity for others to learn the skills and gain experiences that would help them gain employment when they are older.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, there were over 760,000 young people not in education or employment in the UK.  There are fears that the economic impact of the pandemic will lead to an additional 640,000 unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds this year alone.

More than one in three young people aged 18-24 are earning less than before the outbreak, around a quarter of them have been furloughed and a further 9% have lost their jobs altogether. Young people are already twice as likely to be unemployed than older adults in the labour market and some young people from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds have higher rates of unemployment than their White counterparts. Meanwhile, disadvantaged children and young people with fewer opportunities are disproportionately likely to be out of work or education.

We are proud to partner with Youth Futures Foundation for this £6 million programme, aligning our work to improve employment prospects of children and young people who face discrimination or disadvantage to achieve our shared ambition to transform young lives by unlocking their potential and addressing the root causes of youth unemployment.

How much can we apply for and for how long?

Eligible organisations will be able to apply for between £10,000 and £80,000 for work commencing in October 2020.

Funding will be for project and organisational costs, including planning and development for the future, and will support:

  • Between 12 and 18 months of delivery
  • Working with children and young people aged:
    • 10 to 24 in England
    • 10 to 18 In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Please note that funding for 19 to 24 year olds is being provided by Youth Futures Foundation, which only operates in England.

Who can apply?

The Inspiring Futures programme is for not-for-profit organisations within the UK. All applications must meet our Minimum Standards for Grantmaking. These standards are on safeguarding, governance and finances. Not meeting these standards is the most common reason organisations do not get assessed.

Your organisation must be registered with the appropriate regulatory body, such as your nation’s Charity Commission or Companies House (unless your organisation currently holds a BBC Children in Need grant).

Wherever possible we want to fund organisations led by people with lived experience of the issues faced by the children and young people they are helping to support. 

BBC Children in Need and the Youth Futures Foundation are committed to ensuring that the needs of Black, Asian and minority ethnic children and young people are specifically addressed as we recognise racial injustice and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on them.

We will not be accepting applications from prisons, hospitals or other statutory bodies.

*Whilst BBC Children in Need do not currently fund schools and educational bodies – we believe that the aims of this fund mean that these organisations are key to reaching those children and young people most affected. Applications from schools or educational bodies will be expected to demonstrate:

  • Strong relationships with the local community and young people’s sector
  • Clear evidence of them being best placed to deliver rather than within the wider community
  • Clear evidence of how the funding request is not a statutory duty (we will not fund anything considered statutory duty)
  • The ability to evidence the restriction of funding and local decision making and governance. E.g. that the people spending the grant have the delegated authority to make decisions and deliver according to their grant request and that the wider organisation cannot control this

Is this the right fund for your organisation?

Funding is available for not for profit organisations working to improve prospects of children and young people who:

  • Face discrimination or disadvantage by supporting them on their journey towards or into employment.
  • Experience discrimination or disadvantages which create short- or longer-term barriers to employment, especially those whose journeys towards employment have been further disrupted by COVID-19.

We would like to understand the specific experiences of the children and young people you plan to work with that are facing barriers to accessing future employment. Barriers may include, but are not limited to:

  • children and young people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, particularly those most at risk of facing disparities in the labour market (e.g., Pakistani; Bangladeshi; Black; Mixed; Gypsy, Roma and Traveller heritage)
  • not in employment, education or training (NEET)
  • young people who have experience of the care system
  • young parent, or have a caring responsibility
  • being economically disadvantaged (eligible for free school meals) or living in an area of high deprivation
  • disabled children and young people and children and young people with learning disabilities
  • being affected by experience of the criminal justice system
  • being affected by exclusion from education or alternative education provision
  • being affected by of homelessness
  • being affected by mental health issues
  • being affected by long-term health conditions
  • being affected by substance misuse

Applicants may be asked to discuss and review their proposal with a BBC Children in Need assessor. Applicants must be available in August for an assessment. As we want funding to reach children and young people as soon as possible, we cannot extend this assessment period.

We are a current BBC CiN grant-holder. Can we apply?

We will only accept and process one application for our COVID-19 response programmes at a time. This does not include our recent Booster grants. We know that we will be heavily over-subscribed in both programmes. We recommend you apply to the programme that you feel has the best fit.

I have applied to Next Steps but want to change to the Inspiring Futures Programme?

If you would like the exact application you have submitted to the Next Steps programme to be considered for the Inspiring Futures Programme instead, please contact us and we will divert your application.

If you wish to submit a different application than that which you submitted to Next Steps, please contact [email protected] to withdraw your application to Next Steps and re-apply to the Inspiring Futures programme.

What can we apply for?

All projects should be focussed on improving the journey towards employment for children and young people who face barriers.

We will expect applicants to identify the three main differences (outcomes) they aim to make in the lives of the children and young people they work with and show the connection between these differences, and the positive journey towards employment.

We recognise that the outcomes you are able to achieve will vary depending on the characteristics of the children and young people you are working with (e.g. their age, the barriers they face and the stage of the employment journey they are on). The journey towards employment is not linear and everyone’s journey is different – there is not a single factor that guarantees success in achieving aspirations and goals. Individual children and young people may need different kinds of support and external factors also greatly affect a young person’s ability to get and sustain a job, as we are seeing with COVID-19.

Some examples of the types of differences you might achieve for children and young people which could contribute to improving their journey towards employment are:

  • Improved life skills such as listening, speaking, problem solving, creativity, staying positive, aiming high, leadership and teamwork
  • Positive relationships with trusted adults and organisations in order to provide opportunities, learning, advice, mentoring, coaching, experience or jobs
  • Raised aspirations or horizons through new experiences and opportunities
  • Increased appetite for lifelong training and learning that strengthens young people’s ability to adapt and take up new opportunities as they arise
  • Improved core skills such as literacy and numeracy as a passport into training or employment

Organisations working with young people who are further along in their employment journey may also offer:

  • Practical skills for a specific trade or profession, such as IT (e.g. technical support, graphic design, business analyst, web developer), administration, construction (e.g. designer, electrician, brick layer, decorator), health and social care, finance (e.g. book keeping, accounting), childcare, delivery drivers and other ‘jobs of the future’.
  • Work experience placements, traineeships, apprenticeships or internships
  • Paid employment

We want the organisations who understand the needs of children and young people and the specific barriers they face to tell us what already works or to identify innovative solutions. However, some examples of the types of work we might see are:

  • Supporting children and young people towards or into employment, using evidence led approaches wherever possible, which could for example include the following.
    • Delivery of positive activities like music, arts and sport that enables the development of work readiness skills and outcomes
    • Providing a trusted, consistent advisor to help children and young people overcome barriers and achieve their personal goals
    • Delivery of personalised vocational, academic or employability skills, enterprise training, job search, or work experience
    • Addressing barriers to employment such as mental and physical health problems, and housing issues
    • Supporting young people into further education, training or employment that they may otherwise not have accessed
    • Supporting young people through the provision of volunteering, work experience, paid jobs and transitioning to permanent work
    • Connecting young people directly to sustainable employment opportunities

We understand and appreciate that projects may continue to adapt delivery within the changing circumstances presented by COVID-19. We expect that applicants have a clear plan for the coming months, but we recognise that it may have to change over time. We are comfortable with this and would ask that applicants communicate changes that arise during their grant – if funding is awarded.

What can’t we apply for?

Whilst this fund is designed to be as flexible as possible, we are unable to consider applications for the following:

  • Bursaries, sponsored places, fees or equivalent
  • Capital/ building costs
  • Fixed equipment (e.g. boilers, lighting etc.)
  • Vehicles
  • Statutory costs or work which statutory bodies (such as schools or local authorities) have a duty to fund
  • Non-fixed equipment totalling over £20,000 (e.g. play/sensory equipment)
  • Work delivered outside the UK
  • Work with young people over the age of 18 years in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. (This fund can be used to support young people up to 24 in England).
  • Retrospective funding, where the grant expenditure is due to start before the grant award date
  • Costs for which you have also received funding for (duplication)
  • Contributions to your reserves
  • Staff redundancy or re-deployment costs
  • Repayment of loans or debts
  • Investments
  • Pension liabilities and/or contributions to a large number of staff’s pension
  • Feasibility studies or scoping work
  • Projects or work which promote religion
  • Trips or projects abroad
  • Medical treatment or research
  • Pregnancy testing or advice, information or counselling on pregnancy choices
  • Awareness-raising work, except where it is targeted at those children or young people most at risk
  • Political activity or, to party political organisations or for direct lobbying
  • Individuals
  • For the grant to be passed on to other organisations
  • General appeals or endowment funds.

How do we apply?

All applications must be submitted online via our Online Portal. This is open from Friday 10th July 2020. Once you have logged in, you will be able to complete and submit your application for the Inspiring Futures grants programme.

Before applying, we strongly recommend you read our Inspiring Futures Grant Application Form Guidance.

Further general information can be found on the Youth Futures Foundation and BBC Children in Need websites.

The deadline for this programme is 11.30am on Friday 31st July 2020. We expect that this fund will be over-subscribed and only a proportion of applications will be successful.

When will we hear back?

We expect to make all decisions by mid-October, 2020.

As a new fund, it is difficult for us to know exactly how many applications we will receive. We will get in touch with applicants if we need additional time.

If your application is successful you will receive an email informing you of the decision. This email will give you more information on what happens next and the terms and conditions of your grant. There may be some additional conditions on your grant, such as, changes that need to be made or things you will have to tell us before we can award you the funds.

Please contact [email protected] or call 0345 609 0015 if you have any questions.

COVID-19 Funding Streams

To see our other COVID-19 response programmes, designed to deliver support for children and young people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, please click here.


Am y dudalen Cymraeg cliciwch yma.


We want everyone to be able to apply for our funding.  We’re committed to being as accessible as possible, wherever we can. If you need help please contact us on 0345 609 0015 or by emailing [email protected]. This help might include arranging a translator or requesting guidance in other formats.

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