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.

SEMLEP manages the Community Grants programme. Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire provide dedicated and free support to help local organisations understand and complete the application process. The Community Grants programme is currently closed for grant funding applications. Please keep an eye on this page for more information. 

*The Community Grants programme will not be affected by the EU Exit timetable.

Projects funded through Community Grants should support individuals who are currently unemployed or economically inactive to take up training 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
  • build digital literacy skills and increase confidence
  • provide work experience opportunities with a clear path back into employment

For round four, we are particularly looking for projects that can deliver learning online or projects that can be delivered in line with the government COVID-19 guidelines – focusing on the development of digital skills.

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, Aylesbury or Cherwell?
  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 when calls are open. 


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, which can be found in the previous section.

To apply, organisations will need to complete a register of interest. During open calls, the register of interest form will also be available in the previous section of the website.  

Once completed Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire will contact you to provide information about the application process.

To support you to submit a high-quality application, Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire 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.

The Community Grants programme is currently closed for applications. However, the programme will open for a final round of applications from 17 August 2020 until 18 September 2020.

If you are interested in applying, we recommend attending one of our information webinars to meet directly with the team. Book below:

  • 9 AM - 11 AM, Thu, 20 August 2020: Book now
  • 4.30 PM - 6.30 PM, Wed, 2 September 2020: Book now

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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