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Empowering Young People

Funding projects to help young people help themselves to develop skills and the capability to face challenges in their lives
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Update on changes to this programme:

We’re improving our Empowering Young People programme to make it easier to apply.

  • We’re introducing more opportunities for customers to talk to us about their application.
  • We’re changing the grant size - £30,000 to £500,000 - to make it more accessible for groups to apply.
  • The turnaround times from application to decision will be shorter.

To phase in the changes, we are no longer accepting the current Stage 1 application form (after 31 July 2017). The new application form will be available from Monday 4 September 2017. If you have received a stage 2 application, this deadline will not affect you.

Northern Ireland
Funding size:
£30,000 - £500,000
Application deadline:
31 March 2021

What are we looking for?

Four young people around a whiteboard

Through Empowering Young People we will fund projects that give young people in Northern Ireland aged 8-25 the ability to cope with challenges in their lives.

This programme is all about putting young people in the lead. So young people must be involved in the planning and delivery of the project. They must be able to develop the skills to help themselves.  Their support networks and communities need to be involved too.

We will fund projects that meet at least one of the following outcomes:

  • More young people are ready for education, work and training
  • Young people have better relationships with their support networks and communities
  • Young people have improved health and well being.

We've identified three focus areas which your project might target:

  • Young carers
  • Young people with learning disabilities
  • Young people facing barriers to learning and employment.

We will consider projects that support young people outside of these focus areas as long as you can show us that your project is wanted and needed.

Some basic rules

Who can apply?

Voluntary or community sector organisations can apply to Empowering Young People. We will also accept applications from a partnership of voluntary, statutory or private sector organisations as long as the partnership is led by a voluntary sector organisation.

Remember that you will also be involving young people and their support networks and communities in the design and delivery of the project.  Read our blog on putting young people in the lead.

See also our good practice guides on engaging young people in evaluation and consultation and equality matters.

What costs can be included?

The Empowering Young People programme can provide funding from £100,000 to £600,000 for projects that last between three to five years. A grant can cover 100 per cent of your project costs so there is no need for you to find match funding.

We can pay for:

  • revenue costs - such as salary costs for project workers, rent, electricity, heating, volunteer costs, travel costs, a contribution towards your organisation’s overheads in line with our full cost recovery policy. You can include costs for publicising and evaluating your project.
  • some captial costs - such as building or refurbishment work, capital equipment or new vehicles essential to the delivery of your project. Capital costs must be no more than 10 per cent of the total grant you are applying to us for.

But we won’t pay for:

  • general appeals, endowments or fundraising
  • anything you start, spend money on or agree to spend money on before we confirm our funding
  • activities that are statutory obligations or will replace statutory funding, including activities on the curriculum in schools
  • building or refurbishment work costing more than 10 per cent of the total grant
  • routine repairs or maintenance
  • assistance provided to complete the application form
  • feasibility studies
  • loans or interest repayments
  • activities to promote religion or belief
  • political activities
  • second hand vehicles
  • travel outside the UK.

How to apply

It is a competitive application process, with two stages.

  • Read the programme guidance on the website and in the application form.  (We have revised the Empowering Young People stage 1 application form, in response to feedback from customers. You can still use the old application form if you are in the process of completing it.)
  • Fill in the stage one application form and email it to applications.ni@biglotteryfund.org.uk 
  • The programme is open now for applications and will close at noon on 31 March 2021. 
  • We will give you a decision within 30 working days and tell you if you have been invited to make a stage two application.
  • You will have up to four months to complete and send us your stage two application. 
  • Decisions will usually take four months from the date we receive a completed stage two form.

Application tips

We have developed the following blogs which focus on the key programme themes and will help you to prepare a good stage one application:

We also have guidance on working with young people ,  engaging young people in evaluation and consultation and  aims and outcomes.

Check our event page to see if we have any information sessions coming up to discuss your project idea and receive individual feedback / advice from a member of our team.  You can also view a previous webinar that gives tips for applicants.

We have a list of Empowering Young People programme questions and answers and if you have any queries you can ask our outreach team by emailing enquiries.ni@biglotteryfund.org.uk or by phoning 028 9055 1455. We are open Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm.

Information for the projects we have funded

Support for Empowering Young People projects

We have contracted NCB (National Children's Bureau) to provide support to the projects funded through our Empowering Young People programme.  Find out more by visiting their webpage on the LINKS support network

Let the public know that we funded you

Take a look at the resources available for grant holders on our website.  You can download our logo and order branding materials such as acknowledgement plaques.  You can also get information about how to publicise your grant.

You can get further help from the Communications team in the Belfast office by ringing 028 90551455 or emailing: enquiries.ni@biglotteryfund.org.uk 


Organisation Types

  • Voluntary or community organisation


  • Children and young people


  • Young people
  • Carers
  • People who are educationally disadvantaged