The Act for Change Fund

Act for Change Fund was a £3.6 million partnership between Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for organisations supporting young people working for change. The Fund, which ran from 2018-2022, provided resources for young people to challenge social injustice, find ways of overcoming inequality and give voice to issues they are experiencing. The Foundations worked in partnership with the #iwill Fund (a £54 million joint investment between National Lottery Community Fund and The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport).The Foundations acted as match funders and awarded grants for Act for Change Fund on behalf of the #iwill Fund.

The high-level outcomes of Act for Change Fund were:

  • More opportunities for young people with experience of disadvantage to lead social change.
  • A greater understanding of how youth-led social change impacts individuals and their communities (geographical or community of interest).
  • Organisations supporting young people to lead social change are in a more sustainable position.

Campaigning has always been identified as part of youth social action (YSA) from an early stage by the #iwill Campaign, set up in 2013. Act for Change Fund was the most prominent example to date of a youth social action fund that specifically supports young people to take action to change systems and address issues that young people themselves identify as underpinning social injustices and inequalities, based on their lived experience. Our learning partner, Renaisi and the Centre for Youth Impact, looked at the relationship between youth social action and youth social change in this early report.

32 organisations were supported by the Fund. You can read more about the funded organisations and their work here. Many of the examples we’ve used here to illustrate our learning come from work and conversations with organisations, and the young people who they support to work for social change.

Through the fund, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation sought to understand better the impact for young people of the sorts of skills, capabilities and well-being leading change delivers.  We also began to explore ways in which the benefit to communities and organisations of youth-led social change might begin to be recognised.

1 The #iwill Fund was made possible thanks to £54 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities.