What funders can do

Clear and ongoing pathways for young people’s changemaking.

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Invest in future infrastructure to help build a field of youth changemaking.

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Funders need to be comfortable with uncertain outcomes and flexibility.

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Adults need to look at where they can act as allies to young people.

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Consider long-term, unrestricted funding to cover core costs.

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Consider what resources you can offer beyond funding.

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Young people need clear and ongoing pathways to develop their changemaking and activism

4Front Project

Young people are already ready to make change, but school and youth work don’t always equip them with the resources, knowledge and know-how to take this forward. Adults too often hold ideas about young people needing to be ‘ready’ to make change. Equipping young people with political literacy, including knowledge of how to campaign and work for justice can happen at the same time as youth development and leadership.

At the 4Front Project, in Barnet in London, young people who have experienced violence have ongoing, progressive and supported opportunities to create change in their communities and society.

Invest in this infrastructure for the future, bringing together young people’s organisations, to help build a field of youth changemaking, providing skills and networks, sharing knowledge.

Young people and staff at Comics Youth, Chilypep, Northern Ireland Youth Forum, The Warren of Hull and Irise International came together to work on a Manifesto for Change calling for decision makers and those with power to centre young people’s action and voices in responses to the pandemic. They had met at Act for Change Fund online drop-ins, leading to further relationships across their shared interests and goals.

Manifesto for Change

Funders need to be comfortable with uncertain outcomes and flexibility.

Young people and organisations need time and space to learn about power, delve into societal issues, collaborate, work out what matters to them, identify who they need to connect with and create targets to make change happen. The initial outputs and outcomes on an application form need to be understood as an overarching ambition and work in progress.

The Act for Change Together Festival of youth changemaking took place in Summer 2021, showcasing how young people tackle injustice. A steering group of young people worked on the festival with cultural co-producers Molly ScarboroughZahra Hoccom and the Arts Development Company. The coproducers prioritised the energy and imagination of the young people, supporting them to produce their own festival, to pivot plans as needed and liaise with funders.

“Social action work cannot be described with programmatic constraints. These need to be removed for youth-led work to truly be promoted and for young people to do what they want to do” Funded organisation, Act for Change Fund

Phoenix Education Trust

Phoenix Education Trust worked responsively with their youth-led campaigners, following their energy. Their successful campaign ‘Not A Trend’, arguing that racial justice must remain front and centre in education and society, was not developed in their original application to Act for Change Fund: rather, it emerged once funding was secured and young people engaged and identified what they wanted to focus on.

Adults need to look at where they can act as allies to young people and explore the different forms this takes.

Coventry Youth Activists

Coventry Youth Activists, at Grapevine Coventry and Warwickshire, are disabled young people organising with allies to stop disability hatred online – their campaign is ‘Facebook Has No Standards’. They build their power through allyship with other activists working on disability rights and beyond, with local and national politicians, with the adult members of their wider community at Grapevine. The community organisers working with them lift up the young activists’ voices and power.

Consider long-term, unrestricted funding to cover core costs.

Moving away from short-term, project based work gives young people the time and space they need to work out what they want to change, and how – to make mistakes and restrategize. It also gives supportive staff the security to give young people that time and space.

“We wanted to scale up and this funding enabled us to consolidate the work and improve staff capacity and pilot a new initiative on youth-led advocacy.” Funded organisation, Act for Change Fund

Consider what you can offer beyond funding – greater support for individuals, collectives, alliances, movements.

Young people make change through bursts of energy, and this won’t always, or even primarily, be through charities alone. While institutions are essential for young people to feel held and supported in changemaking, we will be looking at ways we can fund differently to respond to young people’s own ambitions and capacity.

Young leaders with lived experience of the UK asylum system from The Hummingbird Project and Kent Refugee Action Network joined forces to advocate for changes to new asylum legislation.

‘We joined together with another migrant group and we trusted each other, this has been a great network because it has improved our knowledge and skills when we speak to others about the issues we are facing’- Young person at organisation supported by the Fund.

“We wanted to scale up and this funding enabled us to consolidate the work and improve staff capacity and pilot a new initiative on youth-led advocacy.” Funded organisation, Act for Change Fund

Consider what you can offer beyond funding – greater support for individuals, collectives, alliances, movements.

Young people make change through bursts of energy, and this won’t always, or even primarily, be through charities alone. While institutions are essential for young people to feel held and supported in changemaking, we will be looking at ways we can fund differently to respond to young people’s own ambitions and capacity.

Young leaders with lived experience of the UK asylum system from The Hummingbird Project and Kent Refugee Action Network joined forces to advocate for changes to new asylum legislation.

‘We joined together with another migrant group and we trusted each other, this has been a great network because it has improved our knowledge and skills when we speak to others about the issues we are facing’- Young person at organisation supported by the Fund.