Black Country Chamber of Commerce - ‘Lifeline’ Foundation Doubles Funding Opportunity to £300,000

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‘Lifeline’ Foundation Doubles Funding Opportunity to £300,000

Youngsters across the Black Country could benefit from an increased £300,000 of funding from the National Express Foundation.

In 2017, the charity increased its funding support to £150,000. This year the Foundation has doubled that amount again to support even more young people across the region.

Since its launch in 2012, the Foundation has awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds which has helped over 14,200 young people enjoy positive and engaging activities in their local communities and to continue with their education.

The charity has now opened for 2018 applications and is offering local educational institutions and community groups the opportunity to bid for grants out of the £300,000 funding available.

The Foundation previously invited local community groups to bid for grants of £2,500 or £5,000. This year groups can also bid for larger amounts of £10,000 or £20,000 to support sustainable projects that provide positive and engaging activities for young people in deprived areas.

Community groups are not the only ones to benefit from Foundation funding. Local colleges and universities can also apply for grants of £10,000 per year towards innovative bursary schemes that help students from disadvantaged backgrounds continue in further or higher education.

Applications for funding must be received by Thursday 8 March 2018. However the Foundation will be running another funding programme later this year.

Smethwick Youth and Community Centre used a Foundation grant to support numeracy and literacy classes for youths aged 11-19, helping to improve their skills and provide them with a better chance at accessing the jobs market, while also increasing their educational knowledge. As of February 2018 the group had 60 registrations, with 45 young people actively attending each week.

Luke Darbey, Community Centre Manager at Smethwick Youth and Community Centre said: "The National Express Foundation funding truly has been a lifeline in helping us to create a platform to engage young people in the local community. We have been so pleased to see so many of our young people using our facilities. As a Community Centre Manager it has been refreshing to see youngsters attending our numeracy and literacy sessions with a passion to learn."

BME United in Wolverhampton used a Foundation grant to deliver a bespoke Youth Employment Skills (YES) programme, focused on skills and unemployment advice for young people. It also encouraged volunteering within the local community to help young people integrate into and improve their local area. 50 young people completed the programme, with a number going on to full or part-time employment, regular voluntary work with local organisations, or further education and training.

Shiv Parekh, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of BME United said: “We are very grateful to the National Express Foundation for providing a grant and supporting our YES programme. We have been able to engage and empower a number of young people by building their confidence, developing their knowledge and skills, overcoming language and culture barriers, and reducing their feelings of isolation. We’re very proud that a number of young people that attended the YES programme have successfully moved on to full or part-time employment, training or voluntary work.”

Anthony Vigor, Chairman of the National Express Foundation, said: “We are extremely proud that over the last six years, the National Express Foundation grants have helped over 14,200 young people enjoy positive and engaging activities and helped them to gain qualifications and learn new skills. This year we’re really pleased to have been able to double the amount of funding available to help even more local young people in the communities that we serve. I would urge all local educational institutions and community groups to submit an application for funding.”

To be eligible, groups or educational institutions must be based within the West Midlands. Full guidelines on how to apply and application forms can be found at www.nationalexpressgroup.com/foundation.

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