After seven rounds of Aspirational Awards we have funded 96 young people across Scotland. This has resulted in £246,121 being awarded directly to young people with care experience since Aspirational Awards launched.
Providing young people with care experience with the opportunity to determine what will make a positive difference to their own lives is a key aim which underpins our work. The Aspirational Awards scheme is a young people-led individual grants fund aiming to empower young people with care experience aged 21-26 to think big about their future and transform their lives with a grant to help them reach their best potential.
The scheme provides the opportunity for young people to apply for a funding award aimed at thinking ‘big’ and achieving their ambitions, and supporting their personal development and reaching as high as possible in life. We understand that ‘aspirational’ can mean different things to different people, but we believe an aspirational idea should be based on:
- an ambition or dream which will create a long-term impact
- something which will help achieve a long-term goal
- something that could be worked towards over a period of time
Our first round of Aspirational Awards was launched in November 2016, and since then we have held two application rounds per year. Round one resulted in 13 successful applications, and our second round, launched in April 2017, resulted in 18 successful applicants. In January 2018, a further twelve young people with care experience were given an Aspirational Award in a third round of funding and in April 2018, we launched round 4 of Aspirational Awards and made 15 awards. Round 5 was launched in November 2018, with 14 subsequent awards being made, round 6 launched in June 2019, resulting in 8 awards AND... Round 7 was launched in November 2019. 16 awards were made.
We have funded a wide range of applications over the years. These have included funding for:
- start-up businesses
- help with vocational courses such as art & design materials or cookery classes to support career development
- volunteering abroad
- specialised qualifications such as mechanics and tree surgeons
- supporting a Master’s course
- specialist equipment for music/DJ-ing and writing
- international trips for training
- funding towards a PhD
Our key aim with this initiative, though, is to help young people with care experience to achieve their goals, whatever their aspirations are in life. The Aspirational Awards Scheme was the brainchild of our Care Experienced Advisory Group members. This was their first experience of developing an and-to-end funding initiative and it has been one of our most popular to date. This is also a really powerful example of co-production.
In September 2020, we produced an Aspirational Awards Briefing Paper, looking at the power of investing directly in young people with care experience. Even small amounts of money can make a huge difference, with long term impacts. It contains some amazing stories and evidences the power of direct investment, trust, support and co-production.
We also hosted a webinar in September where we heard more about what has been funded through Aspirational Awards, what the impact of this has been, and what we’ve learned so far. We heard from our Advisory Group on the importance of co-production, and some of our awardees reflected on their experience of receiving an award. One of these awardees was Anthony, who spoke to Mhairi Reid from the Trust on what his award meant to him.
If you would like to watch the full webinar, which has some fantastic content, you can do so below.