by Author Zoe Kilb

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Trailblazer Fund and Catalyser Fund Questions and Answers

These are questions we have received about our Trailblazer and Catalyser funds. This includes the questions that were asked (and answered!) at our recent Trailblazer Q&A session on Thursday 21 April.

The application process

When does our project need to start?
Your work needs to start between 6 weeks and 3 months of notification. For Trailblazer Round 1 notification is 22 July 2022 so your project would need to start between 02 August 2022 and 22 October 2022.

For Catalyser round 1 notification is 14 October 2022 so your programme needs to start between 22 November 2022 and 14 January 2023.

How many funding rounds do you have each year?
Trailblazer has three funding rounds per year. Catalyser has two funding rounds per year. All funding round dates for 2022 are on the Youth Music Network.

How long until you hear results after making an application?
For the Trailblazer Fund you will hear whether your application has been successful or not, around 3 months after the funding round deadline.
For the Catalyser Fund you will hear whether your Expression of Interest has been invited through to Stage 2 (the full application form) around 2 months after the deadline. And you will hear whether or not your application has been successful 2 months after the Stage 2 (application form) deadline.

What are the dates for future funding rounds?
All funding round dates for 2022 are on the Youth Music Network.

Where can I see a list of your funding priorities?
You can find out our latest funding priorities for the Trailblazer Fund and the Catalyser Fund on the Youth Music Network.

We were successful at the Expression of Interest stage of the Catalyser Fund, however our situation has changed and can no longer put in an application for Stage 2. Do we have to start over for th enext round or can we defer our application? 
Unfornately, appliations cannot be defered. You will need to submit a new EOI in future rounds for your application to be considered. You are however welcome to submit the same proposal, but make sure you chat to the grants team before re-submitting. 


Will my application be looked at by someone who understands my organisation and the work I am doing or has an understanding of the barriers/challenges I am facing?  
Who makes decisions about what to fund at Youth Music?

At Youth Music, we believe that a greater diversity of views, skills and lived experience leads to better decisions.

That’s why we appoint a unique group of decision-makers for every funding round. Each group comprises internal and external experts with lived experience relevant to applicants, the organisations they’re from, and the young people they support.

Applications are reviewed by multiple people, and decisions are always made collectively.

How many times can we reapply to Youth Music if we are unsuccessful?
There are no limits to how many times you can apply to any of Youth Music's funds. We provide feedback on all applications recieved, which can help you decide wheter you'd like to re-apply or not. 

Who can apply?

Your guidance says that the Trailblazer Fund is targeted at small organisations – what counts as a small organisation?

Organisations who could be considered as small are likely to have:

  • A turnover less than £500,000 per annum
  • A small staff team (and in some cases, no permanent or full-time members of staff)
  • Limited fundraising capacity (e.g. no dedicated fundraiser or fundraising team)

These are just a guide, not strict rules.

We’ve never applied to Youth Music before - can we apply for a Catalyser Fund grant or do we have to apply for a Trailblazer Fund grant first?
You can apply for a Catalyser Fund grant provided you meet all the Catalyser Fund criteria – you don’t need to have received a Youth Music grant previously.

We’re a small grassroots organisation. We don’t feel ready for a Catalyser Fund grant, but I’m not sure we meet the Trailblazer Fund requirement to test, trial or disrupt the status quo – what should we do?
The Trailblazer Fund is there to support organisations to test, trial or disrupt the status quo. If you still need to explore your project or an aspect of your organisation’s work further, then the Trailblazer Fund could still be a good fit for you.
If, however you want to deliver work that that you are confident and experienced at doing, then we would encourage you to take another look at the Catalyser Fund, as you could be ready to sustain or scale-up this work.
Still unsure? Contact us on or 020 7902 1060.

Can local authorities or statutory organisations apply?
Yes, provided you meet all the criteria for the fund that you want to apply to. Please note that we cannot fund activities that are a statutory responsibility.  

I am an artist/musician – can I apply?
Soletraders and individuals cannot apply to the Trailblazer Fund or the Catalyser Fund. We only fund constituted UK based organisations. If you are an artist/musician who is interested in delivering this work, then you could consider partnering with a constituted organisation, who could then apply for the grant. 

The Trailblazer Fund seemed to be mainly focussed on small, new organisations. But one of your examples if a Music Education Hub – they’re not small or new. What are the conditions for a larger organisation successfully applying?
The Trailblazer Fund is here to support organisations to test or trail something new or disrupt the status quo. Generally we are looking to support small organisations with their new ideas. Sometimes, Trailblazer will invest in more established or larger organisations, but we’ll be looking for projects that are focussed on doing something different, it’s not about supporting your ongoing delivery.

Could you explain what constitutes a track record? Does this mean a track record of working specifically with Youth Music?
No, you do not have to have a track record of working with or being funded by Youth Music. For the Catalyser Fund we expect organisations to have a track record in supporting children and young people facing barriers to make, learn or earn in music. If you do not have a track record in this type of work, then Trailblazer is the fund for you.

What do you fund?

Trailblazer Fund - What does disrupt the status quo mean?
The status quo means ‘the way things are now’. We know that the current status quo is that many young people experience barriers to music making and that music opportunities are not as diverse or as inclusive as they should be. The status quo doesn’t work for many young people. Organisations who are disrupting the status quo are changing this situation – removing barriers, doing things differently, working with different people and sharing power in different ways. Until the status quo becomes a situation that is inclusive, and accessible with no barriers, we need to keep disrupting things!

Trailblazer is focused on new things – does this mean that tried and tested ongoing approaches to successful work with young people will not be prioritised by Youth Music?
Trailblazer is about doing new things – trailing work, testing new ways of working or disrupting the status quo. If your work is tried and tested, then the Catalyser Fund would be more appropriate for you.

We facilitate music production support – will this be considered or is it simply music itself and not the music industry in general that you will fund?
We believe in music in all its forms, whether that’s making music with friends or learning about the music business. Projects/programmes can offer music making, learning, or earning – or a combination of all three.
As well as music production support, we can will also fund activities like music photography, music journalism, music video production, and music radio/podcast production.

Budget & Finance

You say a proportion of the budget must be spent on delivery costs – can you provide guidance on how much is expected?
Provided some of your budget is being spent on delivery costs, and your budget makes sense in the context of your proposal, there is no set requirement on how your budget is split between delivery costs and core costs.

Can you break down what you mean by match funding and how much we need to raise? 
Our Finance and Budgets guidance has further information about what we mean by match funding and the differnece between cash match and in-kind match. How much match funding you need to raise, depends on how much money you are requesting from Youth Music: 

Grant requests between £2,000 and £30,000: 10% total match funding or higher (at last 5% must be cash match funding)
This means if you're applying for £30,000 then you'll need to raise match funding of at least £3,000 of which at least £1,500 will have to be cash match funding. 

Grant requests between £30,001 and £100,000: 20% total match funding or higher (at last 10% must be cash match funding)
This means if you're applying for £100,000 then you 'll need to raise match funding of at least £20,000, of which at least £10,000 will have to be cash match funding. 

Grant requests between £100,001 and £300,000: 40% total match funding or higher (at last 15% must be cash match funding)
This means if you're applying for £200,000 then you 'll need to raise match funding of at least £80,000, of which at least £30,000 will have to be cash match funding. 

For the match funding evidence – how is this presented?
If you are awarded funding, we may ask for evidence of your cash match funding. This could be a letter/email from a funder, or a letter/email from a partner organisation, or evidence of the funding entering your bank account.
if you are awarded funding, you will be assigned a member of the Youth Music team to support you throughout your grant. They will be able to help if you’re unsure what you need to do.  

The guidance says we have to pay the real living wage – does this rule out using volunteers?
You can use volunteers on Youth Music funded projects/programmes. But any paid members of staff (whether freelance or salaried) we expect to be paid the real living wage or above.

We have mentors that donate their time – does this equate to match funding?
Yes – this would count as in-kind match funding.

Can cash match funding come from our reserves?
Yes, cash match funding can come from your reserves.

Does match funding have to be already secured by the time of the application?
No  match funding does not need to be secured by the time you submit your application. In the application form you will be able to tell us whether the money is confirmed or not.

Youth Voice and Co-design                                       

We don’t feel co-design is possible, due to the target group we are working with.
Youth Music strongly believes that co-design is possible with any group of children or young people. We know that you might have to go about in different ways for different groups. Co-design doesn’t have to involve speaking, filling in surveys or taking part in youth forums – it can involve observation, creative activities and what happens in day-to-day interactions with your children and young people. Take a look at our Youth Voice Resource Hub for more support.

We also understand it isn’t always possible to co-design with children and young people before you submit your application, which is why we also ask you to explain how you intend to co-design (if you are awarded a grant). 

I am planning an Early Years project; are you expecting me to co-design the project with babies and toddlers?
We understand that it may not be possible to consult directly with babies and young children. But it is still important that you demonstrate that you have taken into account their views, opinions, and likes etc. For Early Years children this could include co-designing the project with relevant adults e.g. parents/carers, other family members or Early Years practitioners. You probably also have a good understanding of what Early Years children like or need based on their responses to previous work you have done. We are not expecting you to interview early years children or ask them to complete surveys, but it’s still important that you demonstrate how you have included and considered these children in the design of your project. There are resources about youth voice in the early years on our website.

I am planning a workforce and/or organisational development project – do Children and Young People have to co-design the project?
Yes, this is just as important as for any other type of project. We believe that in order to develop your workforce and your organisation that you need to understand the needs of children and young people, you need to listen to them and give them opportunities to influence and make decisions. We would be unlikely to fund a workforce or organisational development project that is unable to demonstrate how children/young people have been involved in its design. They may not help design the project itself, but their needs and interests should inform the contents. For example, if they want more music production activities this may lead to a project to upskill staff in this area of work.

Project Activities

There are activities that used to be a requirement for Fund A applications (e.g. sharing practice, the Youth Music Quality Framework, outcomes). Are you still expecting to see these activities in a Trailblazer Fund application?
We only expect you to meet the criteria that are outlined in the Trailblazer Fund guidance. We have streamlined our guidance and worked hard to make the Trailblazer application form shorter and quicker to complete, that is why there are now fewere questions to answer and the number of criteria and activities you are expected to include has reduced.  

Can we put together a programme addressing more than one funding theme?
Yes. Your application needs to address at least one of our funding themes. But you are welcome to address multiple funding themes.

Support from Youth Music

Do you still offer flexibility as an impact of the pandemic/covid-19?
Yes. If you have a grant with Youth Music – we understand that you may need to make changes to your original plans. These should be approved by your Youth Music contact. You’ll have their email and phone number so you can always contact them directly to discuss. We’ll always try to approve any changes you request, so long as they meet the aims of the fund your grant is from.

What support can I get from Youth Music team in order to support my application?
We have a range of resources to help you plan, deliver, and monitor your project.

Inclusion hub

Youth Voice hub

Trailblazer evaluation guidance

Outcomes evauation guidance

Finance and budgets guidance

Safeguarding hub

The Youth Music Quality Framework

You can also check our Exchanging Notes learning and development programme for details of upcoming events that may help with your application.

If you identify as Disabled and require additional support to make an application to Youth Music, you can apply to our Access Fund. You should apply for this money before you start making your application.

If you still have questions you can contact the Youth Music team on or 020 7902 1030.

Can someone read through my application form before I submit?
No, due to the volume of enquiries we receive we are not able to read through your entire application form before you submit.

We can answer questions about completing your application; this could include how to submit your application form through the online grants portal, advice about answering questions and questions about whether your organisation or project/programme meet the criteria.


It looks like outcomes have decreased in importance in the guidance and application form – do we still need to write outcomes?
We now have a more flexible approach for Trailblazer than we did for Fund A – so we don’t require you to set or track outcomes.  If outcomes work for your organisation and project, then you are welcome to set outcomes and use these to evaluate your project.
We ask you to set outcomes for the Catalyser Fund – but our flexible reporting formats allow you to track and report additional data and outcomes if you want to.

If I am funded what will my progress reports look like?
The Trailblazer Fund reporting templates will be almost identical to the Fund A report templates. And the Catalyser Fund reporting templates will be almost identical to the Fund B report templates. So you can use these to plan your evaluation and reporting. You can download progress report templates from the network.

For the Trailblazer reporting template in the ‘Outcomes reporting’ section you will be able to report on the evaluation and monitoring data you have collected, you won’t have to report on outcomes unless you have decided to use outcomes for your project.

Current/previous grantholders

I am applying to Youth Music for continuation funding – what do you expect to see from me?
The Trailblazer Fund is for projects that are trialling, testing or changing the status quo – so if you’re coming back for a continuation project in this fund– you should make sure your project still fits these criteria. We would expect to see in your application some reflections on what you have learnt, and how this has informed the new application, And most importantly we would want to see how any new application has been shaped by the children and young people you are working with.

Can I  apply to the Incubator Fund if I have a Trailblazer grant or a Catalyser Fund grant? Can I apply to multiple funds at the same time?
Yes, you can apply to the Incubator Fund if you hold a Trailblazer or Catalyser grant. However, if you hold a Trailblazer or Catalyser grant you are unlikely to be prioritised for an Incubator Fund grant if it will be active at the same time.
You can also apply to multiple Youth Music funds at the same time, but we would be unlikely to award multiple grants to any one organisation at the same time.
If either of the above situations apply to you - we recommend that you speak to your Youth Music contact before starting a new application - as there are nuances to these situations, in particular relating to our current funding priorities.

Do I have to wait until our current grant is closed before we can apply?
No, you can apply for a new grant whilst your current grant is active. What we will take into account when making our decisions, is whether or not the new grant will be active at the same time as any existing grant.