The Community Grants programme offers Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations grant funding from £10,000 to £20,000 to deliver local projects that make a difference within local communities in the South East Midlands.

The programme is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). Unlike many other grant funding schemes, Community Grants do not require ‘match’ funding so grants can cover 100% of the project cost.

The Community Grants programme is managed by SEMLEP. Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire and the Social Business Alliance provide dedicated and free support to help local organisations understand and complete the application process. 

Projects funded through Community Grants should support individuals who are currently unemployed or economically inactive to take up training, volunteering or get back into work.

The grant programme is keen to receive applications from organisations that can create bespoke ways to engage with people from the hardest to reach communities. Projects should support people to develop confidence, self-esteem, enhance employability skills and transferable life skills.

Examples of projects could include those that:

  • provide training, advice or counselling to support with a job search
  • assist with financial numeracy and literacy
  • develop digital skills
  • provide work experience or volunteering opportunities with a clear path back into employment

It’s anticipated that each project will support around 15 to 20 individuals.

Grants will be paid in up to four instalments, 25% will be paid upon the signature of the contract. Then, the remaining 75% will be paid in up to three instalments, in line with project performance monitoring. Each project should run for a maximum of 12 months.

If you are successful in your application, it is crucial that your organisation is ready to implement and manage the project.

Priority will be given to projects that work with people who live in areas with higher levels of deprivation.  

Applications are encouraged to support these target groups:

  • People with disabilities, health conditions & neurodivergent traits
  • Households on a single income with dependent children
  • Individuals who are homeless or in temporary accommodation
  • People aged 50 or over
  • People from ethnic minority groups
  • Ex-Offenders [not receiving HMPPS support]
  • Women returning to work e.g. from maternity leave, a long period as a carer or parent or women whose circumstances have changed

Are you eligible to apply for a grant through SEMLEP's Community Grants project? 

    1. Does your organisation support people in the South East Midlands?
    2. Does your organisation have less than £300,000 annual income? 
    3. Does your organisation have fewer than 50 full-time equivalent paid employees? 
    4. Are you able to demonstrate complete autonomy from any organisation that has in excess of £300,00 annual income or 50 or more full-time equivalent employees? 
    5. Do you have a constitution of rules saying how your organisation is managed and what it does? 
    6. Do you have a UK bank account? 
    7. Do you have professional, employers and public liability insurance and public indemnity insurance?
    8. Is your organisation legally constituted?
    9. Do you have a legal structure that demonstrates that you are a VCSE organisation?


If you can answer 'yes' to all of the above questions, then you are eligible to apply for the funding. To register your interest, please fill in the Google form below and a member of the Community Grant's team will be in touch within three working days.


If you answered 'no' to any of the above questions, we're afraid you are not eligible for funding through the Community Grants project. But we do recommend contacting SEMLEP's Growth Hub Gateway to get connected to free, impartial business support: 01604 212696.


When applying for a Community Grant, you will need to check your eligibility. The eligibility criteria can be found in the previous section, alongside a register of interest form.

Once completed either Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire (VIN) or the Social Business Alliance (SBA) will contact you to provide information about the application process.

To support you to submit a high-quality application, VIN and SBA can provide dedicated and free support. This may include workshops, one to one advice, support to fill out your application and conducting initial due diligence.

Applicants can apply for funding during open funding rounds.

We are welcoming applications for round two, please see below key dates for this round:

  • Round two Calls Open: 17th June 2019
  • Round two Calls Close: 19th July 2019

Contracts will be awarded by 5th September 2019

*Applications can only be submitted during the open calls.

For more information view the guidance for applicants document here.

If you have any further questions, please contact communitygrants@semlep.com.

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