Skills & Opportunities Fund to make a greater difference in local communities in 2017

RBS is set to give away a further £1.25m in the first of two rounds of Skills & Opportunities funding in 2017.

Since the Fund’s launch in 2015, grants of up to £35k have enabled 186 not-for-profit organisations to support people in some of the most deprived communities in the UK and Ireland. In total, RBS has donated £5m to help people access the skills and opportunities required to gain employment, progress in education or start their own business.

This year, in order to maximise regional impact changes are being made to how the Fund is distributed, as well as to the eligibility criteria, which will ensure that funding reaches the causes that customers care most about.

Changes to how funding is allocated

Instead of one overall Fund, the annual pot of £2.5m will now be divided up proportionately between the three principle RBS brands. From 2017 onwards, £2m will be allocated to projects in England and Wales through the NatWest Skills & Opportunities Fund, £280k to projects in Scotland through the Royal Bank of Scotland Skills & Opportunities Fund, and over €175,000 to the Republic of Ireland and £70k to projects in Northern Ireland through the Ulster Bank Skills & Opportunities Fund.

Changes to eligibility criteria

The Fund will continue to be open to applications from not-for-profit organisations including charities, community groups, social enterprises and state-funded schools and colleges in the UK and Ireland that help people to help themselves. However, the focus for funding will now move specifically to projects that support people in disadvantaged communities to gain financial capability skills, or to start or develop a new business, now or in the future.

Thom Kenrick, Head of Community Programmes at RBS explains more:

“The Skills & Opportunities Fund is all about supporting local projects and charities to help people from disadvantaged communities. We have run this Fund for a couple of years and our community partners and customers are telling us that we can make the most difference by focussing on building financial capability and supporting enterprise, which is what we are continuing to do for 2017. Whilst the overall funding distributed will remain the same, these changes to the Fund will help us have a greater impact – and Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers will be able to vote for programmes that truly support those causes in their region.”

RBS CEO Ross McEwan also commented:

“Since we launched the Skills & Opportunities Fund in May 2015, we’ve had over 3,500 applications; shortlisted 367 of these and thanks to over 110,000 votes, we’ve awarded a total of £5m to 186 organisations.”

“As the Fund has evolved, we’ve taken the opportunity to make some changes. We hope that by giving the three new Funds more focus on enterprise and building financial capability in disadvantaged communities, we will see even more not-for-profit organisations applying and an even greater number of people voting for the causes they care about. It’s going to be a very exciting year, with lots of opportunities for everyone to get involved in making a difference.”

The window for applications is open from midday on Friday 3 February to midday on Friday 3 March 2017. Visit the NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Ulster Bank Skills & Opportunities Fund websites to find out more. 

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