Funding Alerts

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

by | Feb 21, 2017 |

Of interest to organisations dealing with the social, emotional and learning needs of young people aged 0-25 at greater risk of being left behind educationally.

They fund work that challenges the public policies and practices that reinforce educational inequality.


They are interested in early intervention and long-term support. They welcome unorthodox approaches, work that looks at the whole picture and does not ‘treat’ its users in isolation. They believe this is best done by backing organisations that challenge, as opposed to alleviating the symptoms in, the system. For this reason they do not fund routine delivery in schools but rather prioritise work that interconnects school, home and the community and challenges inequality in the system. Where they see a particular gap we may partner with a specialist funder or solicit a cluster of applications.

What For?

Funding priorities:
Social and emotional development of disadvantaged children and young people:
They are interested in the social and emotional development of disadvantaged children and young people as well as their learning. They are particularly interested in work that addresses this development in the earliest years, and also in work that helps young people make successful transitions throughout their childhood and into adulthood. They also support work that offers opportunities to those who did not get the most out of the education system (such as care leavers and pupils with special educational needs).

The rights of vulnerable children and young people:
They aim to protect the rights of vulnerable children and young people and provide investment to tackle persistent inequalities that are difficult for others to support. They are interested in ambitious, expansive and innovative programmes of work that level the playing field for disadvantaged children and tackle inequalities in the system.

Addressing the root causes of low educational attainment and challenging behaviour:
They are interested in early intervention and in ambitious schemes that identify and address the underlying issues in children and young people’s lives which prevent them from achieving their full potential. They are looking for holistic approaches and long term impact (e.g. not just getting young talented people into university but also equipping them with the tools to thrive once there).

Civic and political participation for young people under-represented in decision-making:
They are interested in organisations that can nurture and provide progression routes for young people who are under-represented in decision-making. We support organisations able to help create young leaders and empower them to influence change. They are looking for work that inspires leadership, enables social mobility and social action and encourages enterprise.

Young people leaving care:
They have a focused funding stream for work which secures a better future for care leavers. They want young people leaving care to be supported by the system and by their networks to feel emotionally stable and be financially secure, and ultimately to make a successful transition to independence.

How Much?

The Foundation does not set limits and makes grants across a fairly wide spectrum of sizes. The Foundation rarely makes grants that are smaller than £5,000.
Their grants support organisations’ core or project costs, including staff salaries and overheads. They do not fund building or equipment costs, or individuals. 2015 grants ranged from £5k to £1.5m (median average £100,000), with support lasting 1 – 5 years (45% 3 years).


There are no deadlines – you can apply at anytime.