Power to Change launches first grants programme

The scheme offers grants of at least £50,000 over six months to community businesses in England to use for working capital and asset purchases

Power to Change
Power to Change

Power to Change, a new grant-making foundation set up with a £150m endowment from the Big Lottery Fund, has launched its first grants programme.

The BLF said that Power to Change, which will fund the development of thousands of community businesses over a 10 to 15-year period and gained charitable status last week, would be the the largest independent grant-making foundation of its kind in Europe.

Power to Change estimates that it can use the £150m endowment to leverage £1.5bn of additional resources to support community businesses.

In its first programme, Power to Change is offering grants of at least £50,000 over the next six months to community businesses that already operate in England. The money should be used for working capital and asset purchases.

It is also seeking what is is calling "community business champions" who will identify existing community businesses that alreayd make a difference in their local areas.

Organisations eligible to apply for funding are charities, social enterprises, cooperatives or companies that are not-for-profit and are owned, led or governed by local people with the aim of improving the social and economic prospects in their areas.

Applicants must also have plans to become self-sustaining beyond grants and public subsidies. It is not yet clear how much money will be available under the programme.

Successful organisations are expected to be offered free publicity opportunities through the programme’s media partner, Trinity Mirror, to promote their work to a national audience. The will also be offered peer learning and mentoring, and support with their business plans.

Asked for more detail on what the support would entail, a spokeswoman said that Power to Change did not want to be a "top-down" funder that prescribed what would happen, but was instead looking to design the opportunities and activities in partnership with the businesses.

"We are looking for the most inspirational existing community businesses across England to help spread the word and inspire others about the potential of community business to make positive change for local people and places," she said. "The key thing is that they are already up and running and making a difference."

The spokeswoman was unable to confirm how much money would be available in total or how many grants would be made, but said that Power to Change was aiming to build a network of hundreds of organisations.

Later this year, Power to Change plans to roll out funding and support for community businesses at an earlier stage in their development.

Community businesses can register their interest in the programme by completing a form on the Power to Change website, which goes live today. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

The foundation announced that it had appointed Vidhya Alakeson, former deputy chief executive at the Resolution Foundation, as its chief executive.

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