Funding new solutions to real world social, economic and environmental challenges

Foundation News

Funding new solutions to real world social, economic and environmental challenges

14 Mar 2020

This week we completed our latest Community Innovators programme with 18 groups pitching for a share of £140,000 of seed funding. The teams presented their ideas and proposed solutions to a panel of judges representing programme funders – The Hospital Saturday Fund, Department for Communities and Trustees of the Community Foundation.  


This is the fourth round of Community Innovators.  Delivered in partnership with Work West, the programme supports the development of new solutions to real world social, economic and environmental challenges in the community. A series of innovation workshops taking a creative approach to problem solving was designed to put end users at the centre of the solution and focus on experimentation, prototyping and evidence-gathering as key methods. At the end of the workshops, all teams were eligible to apply for the Social Innovation NI Seed Fund to enable them to start delivering their solution. 


Fifteen teams were awarded funding of up to £10,000 with continued advice and support to bring their solution to life. Project ideas ranged from: community festivals to celebrate youth, programmes targeting rural young people and the production of artisan foods such as chilli apple jelly, relishes, chutneys and jams. 


Gilford Youth even presented the judging panel with special glasses so that they could see through the eyes of young people as they judged their pitch!


Groups awarded funding were wide-ranging and from across NI including: 

Marie Curie NI, Lagmore Community Forum, Breastival Belfast, Ballynafiegh Community Development Association, Women’sTEC, LightworkNI Ltd, Far and Wild CIC, Lettershandoney & District Development Group, Raglan Community Development & Renovation Society, Gilford Youth, The Hummingbird Project, Aurora Counselling, Seacourt Print, Focus on Family and Mid & East Antrim Age Well Partnership (MEAAP). 


Paul Braithwaith, Head of Community Innovators at the Foundation commented “Each year we have more Community Innovators teams developing strong solutions to community challenges. It is amazing to see the transformation of ideas as groups progress through the innovation workshops. Unique project ideas are created attracting attention, raising awareness and snowball into an even greater initiative!” 


“Of course, none of this would be possible without our funding partners and delivery partners and on behalf of all the groups and projects involved, we would like to thank the Hospital Saturday Fund, Department for Communities and Work West.”  


Mark Davis, Hospital Saturday Fund Trustee said, “Groups pitching clearly demonstrated their passion and motivation for change in their communities. The Community Innovators programme has changed their way of thinking to result in the creation of a unique project to overcome their community challenge. The Hospital Saturday Fund are delighted to be a part of this change.”  


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