Jane Samuels is Director of Projects and Operations at the Edge Foundation

ANNOUNCING EDGE’S NEW INNOVATION FUND 

The Edge Foundation strives to make education relevant to life and work in the world today. We are big supporters of fresh thinking and encourage innovation and an evidence-based approach to education.

We appreciate that new ideas need to be nurtured to reach their potential which is why I’m very excited to announce that we have launched a new fund, the Edge Innovation Fund to help projects on their way.

What is the Edge Innovation Fund?

Edge is no stranger to funding educational projects; we’ve been doing so since 2014. However, the Edge Innovation Fund is different to anything we’ve done before. Firstly, its focus is on supporting disruptive innovation. In short, this means we’re actively seeking organisations that challenge the status quo around education and approaches to how it’s delivered.

The biggest difference, though, is that our past grant funds have all been open for limited periods. By contrast, the Edge Innovation Fund opened this week for 2021 and remain open until December 2025.

Why the new approach?

Edge understands that innovation can’t happen overnight. New ideas need time to grow. For many organisations including schools, colleges and universities that face funding and resource pressures, application deadlines can become another stressor.

By keeping the fund open-ended, we hope to give institutions time and space to evolve their ideas. This means there’s no rush to get your applications in! Instead, we encourage all applicants to consider their proposals, craft strong ideas and submit an application at any point over the next four years.

What are the application criteria?

All applications to the Innovation Fund must be for innovative projects that challenge current approaches to education. They must also address the need for a broad and a balanced curriculum. And they should meet Edge’s strategic priorities.

These include:

  • making education relevant;
  • empowering young people to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to succeed in life and work; and
  • supporting broad, flexible, and engaging education.

This means high-quality professional and vocational education, and employer- and community-connected learning. Projects must also have, or be able to secure, match funding for at least 20% of the total project costs.

As with our other funding initiatives, we welcome applications from educational institutions (schools, colleges, universities) and charities or not-for-profits. And of course, the full Innovation Fund prospectus and criteria are available on our website.

What kinds of applications is Edge hoping to see?

Edge is open to applications from those we’ve worked with in the past and new organisations with fresh ideas about how education might be done differently.

We’ve previously funded household names like the Barbican Centre Trust and the Eden Project. But we’ve also worked with countless smaller organisations. Baysgarth School, a comprehensive in North Lincolnshire, is one recent example. Given the vocational focus of much of our work, we’ve also funded many FE college projects, from Yeovil in South West England to Ayrshire in Scotland.

However, we appreciate that innovation comes in many forms. We therefore hope that this Innovation Fund will attract new players, including those who might not usually consider applying for grant funding. Beyond this, we’re wide open to suggestions! Be sure to see our recently published impact report for more details of past projects.

How much funding is available and how will it be allocated?

In 2021, Edge is offering a pot of £300,000 of funding. Applications will be regularly reviewed with successful applicants selected by an independent subcommittee of Edge Trustees.

Funding will be refreshed on 1st January each year. In December 2025, we’ll take stock to evaluate the impact of the fund and to consider whether or not to take it forward.

Why work with Edge?

Edge has a broad network which allows us to connect new partners with those working in the same geographic area or on similar projects. We can help you access organisations at all stages of the process, too, from those in the throes of a project, to others that have received their grant funding, completed their work and who have sustainably embedded their work in the longer term.

One stipulation is that successful applicants must participate in Edge’s evaluation process. Each project must carry out individual evaluation but we also commission overarching evaluations to see how each fund has performed. Picking out strengths, weaknesses and lessons learned, this contributes to an invaluable evidence base to support you and other projects moving forward.

I’m so thrilled to be announcing this exciting initiative and cannot wait to see the diverse range of projects that Edge will support over the coming years. If your organisation has considered applying for funding before but it wasn’t the right time… Now’s your chance! We look forward to seeing your ideas.

Jane Samuels is Director of Projects and Operations at the Edge Foundation.

Jane manages all aspects of Edge’s grant programmes and sits on several governing bodies and boards.

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