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County Durham Community Foundation (the Foundation) is now seeking bids from third sector  organisations  to provide  community projects that support a range of activities  to help disadvantaged or excluded people in County Durham move closer to the labour market through increasing their skills.

The project is funded through the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) & ESF (European Social Fund) financing organisation.

Funding of up to £10,000 is available to organisations to engage with participants aged16+, who are unemployed and eligible to work in the UK. The funding aims to:

  • Support participants into employment, search for jobs, engage in education, train or gain a qualification
  • Engage with participants who are more distant from the labour market and who may face multiple disadvantages and complex barriers to work, or moving towards employment

Funding should target the hardest to reach communities and individuals and delivery must take place within County Durham.  The focus of the Fund is to support those from deprived communities to move closer to the labour market in the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area by improving their access to mainstream employment and providing skills training. 

Projects can include:

  • Engagement activities, for example running training courses in places participants feel more comfortable visiting.
  • Improving confidence, motivation or social integration and can include sport, gardening, music, art and other creative activities.
  • Developing local networks and groups to support people to get a job or access learning e.g. job clubs or ‘Learning Champion’ type activity
  • Softer skills development e.g. assertiveness, anger management and motivation.
  • Innovative approaches to attract under-represented participants groups into learning

Within your application you must specify that you will be working with one or more of the following target groups:

  • Participants over 50 years of age            
  • Participants with disabilities                      
  • Participants from ethnic minorities                                              
  • Participants who are women        

Size of Grant
Grants of up to £10,000 are available for first time applicants to this programme.

Grants of up to £20,000 are available for groups who have successfully completed an previous ESF Community Grant funded project. (Please contact us for specific details before applying.)

When to apply

An additional round of funding will close on Sunday 20th March 2022. (Applications must reach us by 11pm on the closing date.)

Applicants will receive a decision by 11th April 2022, and the delivery period for funded activity will be May 2022 to January 2023. (It should be noted that no extensions beyond January 2023 can be granted for this programme.)

If you have questions about the ESF Community Grants Programme you can arrange a time to speak to one of our team who will discuss the funding in more detail by emailing

Please note – recipients of this funding will be required to meet record keeping requirements in line with ESFA and ESF funding guidelines.  Support, including templates and regular one to one meetings, will be provided to help organisations comply with these requirements. Below are examples of the records required for each participant.

Example Registration Form & Example Individual Learning Plan