Innovation Fund

Innovation fund for branches, local associations, federations and similar groups

The WEA trustees have set aside £40,000 in the 2020/21 budget to support branches, local associations, federations and similar groupings (Groups) to fund exciting new projects that build on existing strengths, or tries new ways of working that are innovative and imaginative. This could include recruitment, modes of learning, community relationships, events or listening to students. Bring us your ideas!

Groups can apply for a small grant to take forward their bright ideas to make a difference in their community through adult learning. The Innovation Fund can be used as match funding and applications that also include an element of local fundraising to support the total cost of the project will be prioritised.

We hope that these really successful innovations will act as a catalyst for wider growth.

You can read more about the application process below. If you have any queries about the Innovation Fund, please contact

The application process

We aim to make the process for application and approval of grants as simple as possible. Members of the WEA Council will consider applications as soon as possible after submission and seek to provide a timely response.

You can find the application form here.

On completion, this should be emailed to

The first application round will close at 5.00pm on the 31st March 2021 and will be evaluated by the WEA Council.

Groups should plan on the basis that there will be a period of 4-6 weeks to confirm a successful application, although best endeavours will be used to shorten the approval time where possible/necessary.

Further application rounds will be published later in 2021.

Application guidance

Projects should aim to be completed within a maximum of one year from initiation but we welcome activities that take place over a much shorter time frame.

The WEA Council will allocate the funds based on merit but also try to ensure an equitable spread across England and Scotland.

Groups are expected to liaise with regional committees (English groups) or the WEA Scotland Board (Scottish groups) in order to secure their support prior to the submission of their application.

If the project requires contracted tutor or development hours, these must be costed at the full cost recovery rate as identified in the application form and secured through normal WEA employment contract processes via a member of staff.

Estimates of volunteer expenses, venue costs and publicity should be included in the budget.

If successful you must be willing to tell your story by sharing with the WEA any outputs such as film, audio and pictures and provide us with a short case study. We may wish to develop publicity via the national press, specialist publications, the WEA website and social media.

Your final report will need to detail how the money has been spent and receipts must be provided in accordance with WEA Financial Regulations.

Applications should be no more than two sides of A4 plus the budget and can be submitted at any time.

Susannah Forland

Head of Fundraising, Membership & Volunteering