The Aspirational Awards scheme is a young people-led individual grants fund aiming to empower care experienced young people aged 21-26 to think big about their future and transform their lives with a significant 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
- Supporting their personal development and reaching as high as possible in life
Providing Care Experienced Young People with the opportunity to determine what will make a positive difference to their own lives is a key aim which underpins both the Trust’s Corporate and Programme strategies.
The Trust’s Individual Grants pilot allowed us to hear directly from our beneficiaries just how powerful a relatively small financial intervention can be when it is chosen and controlled by them. For many of our beneficiaries, simply being entrusted to make the decisions which affect their lives was in itself hugely significant. This direct feedback, coupled with external research of the impact of individual grant schemes, has informed this development of the Aspirational Awards Scheme.
The evaluation of the Individual Grants pilot concluded that the initiative had a positive impact on the lives of Care Experienced Young People that went beyond the immediate financial benefit. One of the key findings of the evaluation was the need to create a similar individual grants programme which would support highly aspirational applications from Care Experienced Young People aged 21-26. And so we did!
We understand that aspiration can mean different things to different people and that everyone has their own aspirations. However, we believe that an aspirational idea must be based on these principles:
- an ambition or dream which will create a long-term impact on your life
- something which will help you achieve a long-term goal
- something that you could be working towards over a long period of time (and would have proof of doing so)
Here, Saffron and Rosie explain what Aspirational Awards are:
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 from a total of 21. Applications were wide and varied, ranging from business start-ups, to volunteering abroad, as well as some specialist vocational courses to support career development.
Our second round, launched in April 2017, resulted in 18 successful applicants from a total of 29. Again, there was a great deal of variety in applications, which included business start-ups, international trips for training, internships, volunteering, studies, specialist equipment, and a PhD, among others.
In January 2018, a further twelve care experienced young people were given an Aspirational Award in a third round of funding. Awards included funding to volunteer abroad, to support Master’s courses, specialist music equipment and funding to start businesses.
We launched round 4 of Aspirational Awards in April 2018, and made 15 awards. Round 5 was launched in November 2018 and round 6 in June 2019. AND... Round 7 was launched in November 2019.
After seven rounds of Aspirational Awards we have funded oer 80 young people across Scotland. This has resulted in just over £175,000 being awarded directly to young people with care experience since Aspirational Awards launched.
As mentioned above, we understand that aspiration can mean different things to different people and that everyone has their own aspirations, as such Aspirational Awards funding is flexible and designed to meet the needs of individual people. This flexibility has meant that we have received a really exciting variety of applications to date, including:
- startup business costs
- courses such as art and design materials or cookery classes
- volunteering or work placement abroad
- specialised qualifications to support work in specific sectors, e.g. as a mechanic, tree surgeon, beauty therapist or life coach
- specialist equipment for music or competitive sport
- funding towards University courses, including Master’s and a PhD!
We don't want to limit anyone's thinking by offering a prescribed list of what's on offer but hopefully the list above gives you a flavour of what could be applied for.
One recipient was Jimmy Paul, who received a Life Changes Trust Aspirational Award to undertake a Diploma in Executive Coaching through the Academy of Executive Coaches (which he has now officially passed). Jimmy kindly wrote a blog on his experience of applying and receiving an Aspirational Award. Read his blog here
An essential aspect of Aspirational Awards is that the development of the project is led by young people with experience of care. The Life Changes Trust worked with our Advisory Group (whose members are young people with care experience who volunteer their time to inform the work of the Trust) to develop Aspirational Awards and they continue to work on its ongoing development. As part of their role in Aspirational Awards, members of the Group assess all of the applications we receive, and as part of a panel they make the decision on which applications will be funded.
We run two Aspirational Awards rounds per year and we advise all applicants to read our FAQs and Guidance very carefully and to get in touch to discuss their application before submission. You can download the FAQs and the Guidance to learn more. If you want to be the first to know when Aspirational Awards will next open, keep an eye on the trust’s Twitter page or sign up to our newsletter here.
Please contact us on 0141 212 9600 if you have any questions.
Outcomes we'd like to see
- care Experienced Advisory Group members experience developing an end-to-end funding initiative
- care experienced young people applying for awards are supported to develop an application and manage a budget
- care experienced young people benefit from making decisions about their own futures
- care experienced young people are able to achieve their ambitions in life
- care experienced young people have access to education and training opportunities
- care experienced young people have improved employment opportunities
- care experienced young people are supported to start their own business