by Author Zoe Kilb

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Introducing the Trailblazer Fund and the Catalyser Fund

A photo of happy young person holding a microphone, staring directly into the camera.

We’re excited to officially launch our Trailblazer Fund and Catalyser Funds. These replace Funds A, B and C, supported through our National Lottery Arts Council investment.

This process of change has been informed by a range of experts including leaders and young people from the organisations we invest in. We’ve refreshed the guidance and made the application process more user-friendly. We’ve also designed a new collaborative decision-making process that includes peer consultants and young people too!  

We’ll continue to support organisations working with young people facing barriers to make, learn and earn in music. Trailblazer offers grants of up to £30,000 to people wanting to trial innovative ideas. Catalyser offers established organisations grants of up to £300,000.


What is Trailblazer and who is it for?

Trailblazer will support organisations to test a new way of working or disrupt the status quo. This can be a piloting a new programme, working with new technologies, or changing up how things have always been done.

We’re looking to support small organisations with their new ideas. To be eligible to apply, organisations need to have been formally set up before the application deadline. If you have just started offering a music programme for young people, then Trailblazer is the fund for you.

Sometimes, Trailblazer will invest in more established or larger organisations. But we’ll be looking for projects that are focused on doing something different. It’s not about supporting your ongoing delivery.

Click here to find out more Trailblazer


What is Catalyser and who is it for?

The Catalyser Fund is for more established organisations with a track record, who want to sustain, scale up delivery or create change in sector practice. We’ll be giving out larger amounts of money so there is a more detailed application process than Trailblazer. But we’ll only ask for full proposals for those who have a high chance of success, after a short expression of interest.

We’ll expect you to have things like an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policy in place, to be confident in setting outcomes and developing an evaluation plan. You’ll need to be able to raise more match funding and show that you are working in partnership with other organisations. We’ll also want to see a good track record in the work you’re planning.

Click here to find out more Catalyser.


Changes to the application process

Our guidance has been tested and streamlined, with easier language and a range of support resources. These cover areas where you’ve asked for more help, including budgets, youth voice, and evaluation.

We’ve worked hard to make the Trailblazer application form shorter and quicker to complete. We’ve reduced questions by using existing information where possible. For example, we’ll look at your social media, website, and other links you provide to find out about who you are, what you do and who you work with.

You can now present parts of your proposal in different formats. If you prefer speaking to writing, you can submit a video or audio recording. If writing is more your style – then you can do that too. You can also combine words and visuals in a presentation deck. This multi-format option is to make the process more accessible for you. We won’t be assessing your videography or PowerPoint animations skills!


Focusing on what’s important

There’s more emphasis on the most important part of your work – children and young people. You’ll see an increased focus on: 

Youth voice: We want to know that young people have co-designed and influenced your work. Our new Youth Voice hub explores this further.
Equality, diversity & inclusion: Ensuring your organisation reflects the communities and young people you work with is essential to creating an inclusive space for young people. Our EDI resources can help, whatever stage of the journey you’re at.
Safeguarding: Partnering with those who are actively working to create safe spaces for young people. Our Safeguarding Hub is here to help.


Shaking up decision-making

We have explored how to open up our decision-making with funded partners and young people. We’ll be involving peer consultants with different lived experiences in our decision-making. They will work with our team to review applications and make recommendations about what to fund. Our most exciting news is the creation of a children and young people’s steering group. This group of eight- to 12-year-olds will feed into our grant making practices in a variety of ways. This blog describes the work we've already done with children and young people. 


Being transparent

To help you make an informed decision about whether to apply, we’ve created a one-stop webpage. We’ll publish and regularly update:

  • The regions and funding themes we are prioritising.
  • Our latest success rates and where competition is highest.
  • Recent grant awards.

A friendly team

Our team has always worked hard to be friendly and open. Consultation has demonstrated that contact with funders, in particular during the application process, is important. We'd recommend watching our Q&A session before emailing with any queries

We’ve also changed up all our relationship and reporting processes. Watch this space for more information!


The Future….

This isn’t the end. We’ll continue to listen, reflect, and collaborate with children and young people, experts, funded partners and applicants.

We look forward to working with the future Trailblazers and Catalysers.