Is accessing a grant to fund educational improvements to your school something that interests you? Gill O’Donnell explains the scope of the Foyle Foundation and how it could benefit your institution

When you think of Foyles you probably think of the famous bookshop in London, or you might connect it with the Poetry Society’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. However, its association with education and creative arts is considerably more complex as can be seen by the work of the Foyle Foundation. This is an independent grant-making trust that distributes grants to charities whose core work is in the areas of learning, the arts and health. As schools are increasingly accessing funding from the Foyle Foundation, this article will explain what they fund, as well as giving practical advice on making a successful application.

The Foyle Foundation was formed to implement the terms of the will of the late Christina Foyle. She was the daughter of William Foyle who, with his brother, founded the family owned bookshop Foyles in Charing Cross Road, London in 1904. Christina joined the business at the age of 17 and continued to manage it until her death in 1999 at the age of 88. The foundation came into existence in November 2001, since when it has disbursed over £2.6m in grants. Most of these grants range between £10,000-£50,000 and all are UK based, as the foundation specifically does not fund international work.

Application criteria
It is important to bear in mind the following when applying for grants from the Foyle Foundation:

  • Applications will only be eligible for consideration if they are aimed at benefiting people within the UK. International projects cannot be considered.
  • Only organisations which have recognised charitable status can be considered. For schools this means either declaring their charitable status conferred through their affiliation to a church, or applying through a PTA or friends’ group which has gained charitable status. Gaining such status is a lot less complicated than most schools expect.

These are the two main grounds for ineligibility. Similarly, retrospective funding will not normally be considered, nor will funding for projects that have already started (except for capital projects still under way, that will not be completed for some time).

Organisations and projects which provide direct benefits and services to the public, rather than to special interest groups, will be favoured in the decision-making process by the foundation. The trustees will also show particular interest in those groups which find funding difficult to obtain. It is important to note that, as part of the project appraisal process, the level and purpose of the applicant’s reserves will be taken into account. The foundation will consider funding for revenue and capital projects. However, it is essential that applicants demonstrate how the project will be sustainable – if this is an ongoing activity – after the grant expires. An organisation may only apply for one grant in any year. In situations where the applicant is part of a wider national organisation which is supported by the foundation, then no other regional branches or affiliated groups will be supported during that year.

Support for learning
The foundation provides funding under the category of ‘support for learning’ and within this area key priorities are:

  • libraries, museums and archives
  • special educational needs and learning difficulties.

Support, however, will be considered for state funded schools and special schools (within the guidelines outlined below), although projects relating to citizenship, esteem-building, training, skills acquisition to aid employment, early learning projects or playgroups will not generally be considered.

Funding details
Any grant offered by the trustees should be able to be used in full within two years of being awarded, otherwise the foundation may withdraw the grant. In the majority of cases the funding will be in the region of £10,000-£50,000. Only rarely will an application for less than £10,000 be considered. In those situations where a grant of over £50,000 per annum has been awarded, the foundation will not normally accept any further applications from the same charity within three years from the date of the award or final instalment.

Applications are accepted all year round and there are no deadlines. Following an application it takes on average four months for a decision to be made by the trustees and therefore applicants are advised to apply at least six months prior to requiring funding. When applying for a grant it is important to allow sufficient time to allow the trustees to make a full study before reaching their decision. Normally applications are acknowledged within two weeks, including those which are rejected. Once an application has been acknowledged and accepted as valid the applicant may be contacted for further information by the chief executive and, in some cases, a visit might be arranged in order to carry out a more detailed appraisal prior to presenting the application to the trustees.

Additional guidelines for state schools
The key factor in making an application is that the project must demonstrably be of direct educational benefit and the application must clearly show why the project cannot be funded from statutory or other funding. Where the school has a PTA, friends association or other fundraising arm which is a charity then they should make the application on behalf of the school.

In the case of these applications, the grant awarded is unlikely to exceed £20,000 but the lower limit remains at £10,000. It is unlikely that the foundation would fund major school building projects, community or sports projects. However, library and literacy projects would be more likely to attract attention.

Along with the normal application information, a school based application must provide a summary of the latest Ofsted report, the latest school budget with explanation of any deficit or carry forward and, where applicable, the annual accounts from the PTA. They will also request a range of supplementary information, particularly if you are submitting a request for funding for a project which involves any degree of building work. Full details of this are provided on the website.

Application summaries
When applying for a grant you will be expected to include a further document to summarise the project itself. This should include the actual name of the project, along with a description of it. It should explain in full why the project is needed and when it is envisaged that it will commence. The duration of the project should also be given, along with detailed projections of the project budget and the amount of grant requested and details as to when the funding will be required. You should also include details of how (if applicable) you intend to raise any other funding which will be required and details as to whether the project will be able to proceed if funding is not provided by the foundation. You will also be expected to give details as to how many people will be actively involved in the project and how they will benefit and who, from your organisation, will manage the project. Details as to whether the project will be sustainable in the future will also be required if it is envisaged to be an ongoing project or service. Remember to give consideration to the issue of monitoring the project and always include an explanation about how you plan to evaluate it. Also it is important to be aware that the trustees most probably will also require you to provide reports back to the foundation giving details of progress.

The foundation’s other areas of interest
The other main areas of interest to the Foyle Foundation are health and the arts. While it would not be usual for them to fund projects in these areas suggested by a single school, they are extremely active in funding projects which benefit young people in both of these spheres. It is therefore worth considering the Foyle Foundation as a possible source of funding for larger scale projects which involve young people generally as opposed to school specific projects.

Within the arts an application should make a strong case for support of either visual or performing arts. Improving accessibility to the arts by developing new audiences will be regarded sympathetically as will support for tours, festivals and arts-based education projects. Community arts-based activities, however, are usually not supported, but support is available to encourage new works and to support young and emerging artists. The foundation has also in the past provided grants to support the construction of new facilities and the improvement and re-equipping of existing venues.

With regard to funding health-related projects it must be stressed that the foundation’s preference is to support applications that are linked to a known medical condition. Their funding is generally for projects and work which makes an active contribution to the improvement of healthcare. They favour smaller health charities, such as those for rare and/or distressing health conditions. Traditionally the foundation has not supported projects such as telephone helplines or general information distribution services. Nor will they support counselling, respite or advocacy provision.

Beneficiary Project Amount awarded
Friends of Colnbrook school, Watford Towards a new speech, language and communication unit £25,000
Carcroft Primary School, Doncaster Towards the redevelopment of the rundown Carcroft Learning Library as an updated library and homework area £20,000
Myatt Garden Parent Teacher Association, London Towards the redevelopment of the outdoor playground into a series of learning spaces £20,000
Heysham High School Specifically for new sprung flooring in the performing arts area £15,000
Wrexham Homework Clubs Towards supporting four homework clubs and a club coordinator £15,000
Ely St Mary’s C of E Junior School To purchase equipment for the school theatre £12,000
SS Osmund and Andrew’s RCPS, Bolton For the purchase of modular staging, curtains, lighting and microphones £11,500
Carter Community School, Poole To create a school library in a disused classroom £10,000
Drummore School, Glasgow Towards eight additional smartboards to enhance teaching at the school £10,000
Kenton Bar Primary School, Newcastle upon Tyne Towards the development of library facilities to support out of school hours learning £10,000
Great Wakering Primary School Towards refurbishment of performing arts facilities in school hall £10,000
George Salter Collegiate Academy, Sandwell Towards extending and refurbishing the dark room and providing an ICT suite for the art department £20,000
Springboard Opportunity Group, Clevedon Towards an education and learning resource room at Clevedon Centre of Excellence £15,000

Contact details
Careful examination of the website is advised before application. Contact can also be made directly with the charity at the following address:

David Hall Chief Executive The Foyle Foundation Rugby Chambers

2 Rugby Street, London WC1N 3QU

T: 020 7430 9119