Community grants guidance notes
The National Express Foundation is a key element of National Express Group’s support for the wider community in which we operate.
The Foundation was created following the public order disturbances in July 2011, which highlighted the issues facing young people living in inner-city areas. The disturbances involved a disproportionate number of people in the 15-24 year age group, with unemployment, boredom and lack of motivation all cited as factors. Ten years on, these factors are still as relevant now as they were when the Foundation launched, particularly as local authority spending on youth provision has continued to fall.
Since early 2020, Covid 19 has had a significant impact on the delivery of services which support young people. Delivery was either suspended or moved online which proved challenging to access for some young people. The pandemic has been particularly difficult to young people with special needs - many of whom rely on face-to-face support.
As we build out of the pandemic, the trustees of the Foundation have decided to refocus our support on initiatives which will help young people to ‘make-up’ for time lost due to Covid.
They want to help young people gain the qualifications they need, to build the skills that will help them get jobs, and to help them develop constructive social networks outside of education or work. Initiatives which seek to support young people with special needs, will be particularly welcome.
Applications are invited for initiatives which groups will begin to deliver in the first quarter of 2022.
Guidance on making an application
We have to reject many applications each year because applicants have not read and applied these guidance notes and the resulting applications are vague.
We review hundreds of applications each year, so you need to ensure you clearly set out what you would like to do with Foundation support. You must not assume that we know what your organisation does, so please make sure you write a clear, succinct executive summary and you answer all the questions on the application form fully.
Who can apply?
Our funding programme in 2021 is open to community groups delivering services within the former West Midlands county boundary* and surrounding districts which are served by National Express West Midlands/Coventry bus routes.
Our definition of community group includes any charity, constituted community organisation or not-for-profit community interest company.
*For clarity, the seven West Midlands council areas within the county boundary are Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
How much can we apply for?
We are continuing to ask community groups to apply for specific sums of money, saying what they could deliver for either £2,500, £5,000, £10,000 or £20,000. Your application should clearly set out what you could achieve if you were awarded the money.
If you are applying for one of the larger value grants, it is very important that your application is robust, comprehensive and clearly sets out how you will deliver your project and how it might benefit a large number of young people - potentially over a longer period than one year.
What sorts of projects are successful?
- Applications which:Focus on young people aged between 15 and 24
- Meet the requirement to support young people as they built out of the pandemic
- Involve or benefit a large number of young people – a minimum of ten
- Deliver a sustained programme of activity over a number of months or years
- Ensure that anyone employed on the projects is paid a minimum of the prevailing Real Living Wage rate.
- Have specific key milestones or dates that allow the Foundation to get involved with the project
- Show how you will seek to minimise your impact on the environment.
- Provide a clear plan on how they will use social media to promote the project
- Are unique to National Express Foundation and we are the sole funding source for the activity
- Set out a plan for measuring the impact of the activity
You can read about the types of projects we have supported on our website www.nationalexpressgroup.com/foundation.
What sorts of projects are likely to be rejected?
- Involve one-off activities – one day/weekend/week, and therefore lack key milestones for the project
- Only benefit a small number of young people – less than ten
- Are seeking part-funding towards a larger project
- Do not provide clear budget information
- Seek sponsorship for an event
- Offer little opportunity for stakeholder or Foundation engagement
- Projects that are unsustainable
- Do not provide evaluation or measurement for impact of the activity
Our commitment to support the real Living Wage
National Express is an accredited Living Wage Foundation employer in the UK. In support of this, the National Express Foundation wishes to encourage the payment of the Living Wage by organisations we support.
We are asking the organisations to consider paying the Living Wage Foundation rate. If you are applying for Foundation funding that will contribute to staff costs, we would encourage you to pay any salaries or wages that our funding will support at the Living Wage Foundation rate or above. However, we appreciate there may be specific circumstances which make this difficult. For 2021, the real Living Wage is currently set at £9.50 per hour outside of London. You should confirm the hourly rate you intend to pay in your application.
We follow a two-step process to consider applications. In the first instance you will be asked to complete our online form to produce an executive summary explaining how the funding will be used to deliver the project as well as information about your organisation.
This will then be assessed by our team and if this meets the strategic aims and values of the National Express Foundation, you will be invited to complete the second stage application form which will ask you to include the following information:
- Background to the organisation, membership and funding
- Evidence of constitution and independent bank account
- Explanation of how the proposed project would benefit the community
- Statement as to how the project will reflect the diversity of the community that you are working in
- Timescale and process for delivering the project - we prefer projects to have key milestones throughout
- Plans for using social media to publicise our support and the activity being delivered, and engagement with stakeholders
- Proposal for how the Foundation could be engaged with the project
- Plans to evaluate and quantify the benefits – an example of the type of evaluation report we would like to receive is available to view on our website
- Evidence of a commitment to safeguarding within your organisation
The National Express Foundation is committed to safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults and therefore request that all second stage applications include a copy of your organisational safeguarding policy. For guidance on writing a safeguarding policy, please follow the NSPCC link below;
Applicants should indicate the size of grant that they are applying for: £2,500, £5,000, £10,000 or £20,000 - and explain what they would deliver for the level of grant applied for.
While we do not propose to set restrictions on how the funding would be applied, we will be seeking evidence of innovation in how the projects will be delivered.
Remember that our trustees may not know anything about your organisation. You should set out clearly in your application form what you intend to do and how a Foundation grant will support that.
You will be required to provide an end of project report explaining how the grant bursary has been used during the year.
You will also need to evidence the delivery of your social media and stakeholder engagement plan that you set out in your application.