Sport England – Opportunity Fund and Potentials Fund


At Sport England, we work to get more people active across England, regardless of age, background or ability. Within that, the importance of volunteering is immense. Volunteering has the power to change lives for those giving their time, and by helping others get active. As a result of this, volunteering plays a central role in Sport England’s 2016-2021 strategy, and we are looking to work with a wide range of partners to deliver exceptional volunteering experiences. We want to start this journey by learning what works, by investing in new ideas, and working with new partners. We will then use this, alongside existing best practice from across sports volunteering, to grow; to attract more people, better support existing volunteers, and maximise the benefits of volunteering. In addition to this we want to make sports volunteers more representative of society.

In this first stage of our strategy we want to deliver exciting new volunteering and social action opportunities that will positively impact on people’s lives and their communities. To do that, we are going to work with a wide range of organisations.

We have two new funds to make it happen:

The Opportunity Fund targets people, aged 20+, from economically disadvantaged communities.

The Potentials Fund targets children and young people aged 10 to 20 (with a particular focus on 10-14 year-olds) who are interested in doing something to benefit their community, through social action.

The programme is match funded by the #iwill fund, a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund, the Department of Culture, Media & Sport, and Step Up To Serve.

We want to support projects that help create quality experiences for volunteers – particularly for those who may never have considered getting involved in any kind of volunteering. At the same time, we want to learn what works for different people from a range of backgrounds, so we can go on to reach more potential volunteers. These two funds will support projects for groups where we have identified significant untapped potential. We know that those with lower household incomes, young people, women, people with a disability, and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are currently less likely to volunteer in sport, yet they are often keen volunteers in other sectors such as religion or education. We want to see how we can use sport or physical activity as a means to fulfil their motivations.

In turn, communities will see an even greater benefit when there are more volunteers from their own neighbourhood. If you have a great idea about how to use sport and physical activity to get young people or those from economically disadvantaged communities into volunteering or social action, then we want to hear from you. Not only do we want to support great projects now – we also want to use them as the building blocks for future investment. We’ll be investing over £20m into volunteering between now and 2021. The Volunteering Funding Investment guide  provides information about what we seek to achieve through this investment, what kind of projects we are particularly interested in and how to apply. Please read it carefully and in full – your application is much more likely to be successful if you do.

The application process has two steps: 1 Expression of Interest – this asks you to describe your idea and summarise projected costs. At this stage it doesn’t need to be a finalised plan, but should show how you would put your ideas into practice.

2 Full Application – if you’re shortlisted, it means we are interested in your idea. You’ll then be asked to complete a full application – this will be a detailed funding application looking at all areas of your project. There will be support available at stage 2 as you put together your plan.

All Expressions of Interest must be submitted by 12 noon, 24 April 2017.

For more information and to apply please click here.


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