Fresh Ideas Fund reopens for applications under new foundation

Management of the £3m fund, set up by the Northern Rock Foundation, has been passed to the Northstar Foundation, offering grants to charities in Cumbria and north-east England

Fresh Ideas Fund: offers grants to charities in Cumbria and the north east
Fresh Ideas Fund: offers grants to charities in Cumbria and the north east

A £3m fund set up by the Northern Rock Foundation to help charities develop new ideas has been handed to a new foundation and reopened for applications.

The Fresh Ideas Fund, which has been funded by the Northern Rock Foundation since 2011, offers charities in Cumbria and north-east England grants of up to £50,000 to develop ideas for new income streams and services.

The foundation, which is expected to close next year, said that it had passed the funds to a new regional foundation called the Northstar Foundation, launched by the venture capital firm Northstar Ventures.

The programme, which is expected to run until 2017, will be administered by the Community Foundation for Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.

The programme’s latest funding round will be open to applications until 26 June.

Applicants must be registered charities, community interest companies, charitable incorporated organisations or community benefit societies that work in the areas of homelessness, financial inclusion and debt and poverty reduction, health and social care, mental health provision, domestic violence and sexual exploitation, support for refugees and asylum seekers, offender rehabilitation, the regeneration of deprived communities or reducing unemployment.

Each applicant must have a regional office or some other form of representation in north-east England. Their proposals must put forward ideas that will help their organisations to grow and explore new ways of generating income and achieving greater impact. These might include developing new social enterprises, supporting more beneficiaries, expanding into neighbouring towns or building partnerships with other charities.

Successful applicants will also receive the support of mentors from Northstar Ventures.

One mentor, Michelle Cooper, investment manager at Northstar Ventures, said proposals that had secured funding in previous rounds were extremely diverse and included e-learning projects, a community farm and vintage retail outlets.

Funding can be spent on feasibility studies, expert advice and start-up costs for such schemes.

The fund has made 64 grants to 60 organisations since 2011.

Susannah Birkwood

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