One-of-a-kind fund putting young people in charge of positive change launches today

November 16, 2023 | Press Releases

Co-op Foundation, Co-op, and #iwillFund are today launching a radical £4.5m fund to put young people right at the heart of change.

The Young Gamechangers Fund will offer grants of up to £20k directly to individual young people aged 10-25 – the first of its kind in the UK.

Funding will help individual young people to catalyse their ideas for turning their communities into safer, more sustainable and more inclusive places to live. Grants from the fund will also support youth led groups and organisations working to improve their communities.

Not only is the fund for young people, but it’s also been designed by young people. A youth steering group of 13 young people aged 18-25 built the fund from the ground up – from design to influencing grant decisions – to completely reimagine how youth-led funding is delivered in the UK.

The ground-breaking initiative is funded by Co-op Foundation, the #iwillFund and Co-op. As a result of Co-op’s unique naming rights partnership with the new Co-op Live arena in Manchester, Co-op Live will also drive youth social action through the Young Gamechangers Fund with a donation of at least £1m a year to the Co-op Foundation when it opens in 2024.

The #iwill Fund supports the aims of the #iwill Movement – to make involvement in social action a part of life for young people, by recognising the benefit for both young people and their communities.

The fund will be delivered by Global Fund for Children and Restless Development, who will work with successful applicants to provide peer support networks, training and mentoring to bring their vision to life.

Applications are now open. The steering group will prioritise support for young activists, co-operators and entrepreneurs who are committed to creating communities that are prosperous, safe, diverse, equitable and inclusive, healthy, and sustainable.

Young people aged 10-25 interested can apply here. Applications close on 14 December at noon.

Mariama, 20, steering group member, said: “There are loads of things that excite me about the Young Gamechangers Fund! One aspect of the fund that excites me is that it’s youth-led!!! From designing the fund to the marketing of the fund – it’s the young people who get to have the first and last say of the decisions being made – and I find that so empowering!”

Mya, 21, steering group member, said: “I think this fund has immense potential to implement youth-led change and impact. Age isn’t a barrier for agency. This isn’t just designed for young people – but it’s by young people!”

Nick Crofts, CEO of the Co-op Foundation said: “For too long, young people have been left out of the decisions that affect them the most. Built by and for young people, our £4.5m partnership with Co-op and the #iwill Fund will fund individuals to make a real difference in their communities. The Young Gamechangers Fund is transforming how youth-led funding is delivered and will empower young people to build communities of the future together.”

Rebecca Birkbeck, Director Community & Membership Participation at Co-op, said: “The launch of this unique fund will enable young people across the UK to act on the issues they care about and make a real impact in their local communities. A huge thank you to all of our Co-op members whose contribution has helped make this difference possible, showing true social value in action.”

“Additionally, we’re thrilled our partnership with Co-op Live will help to unlock funding through the Gigs that Give Back initiative when it opens next year, demonstrating our joint commitment to making a positive impact in the community, especially for young people.”

Helen Whyman, head of the #iwill Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players and DCMS, the work of the #iwill Fund continues to have an incredible impression on young people. This £66 million joint investment supports them to develop their skills, reach their potential and access high quality social action. It’s inspiring to see young activists co-designing a new initiative to put young people at the core of change to create better, fairer communities.”

Hayley Roffey, Global Managing Director, Global Fund for Children, said: “Global Fund for Children (GFC) has been putting children at the heart of change for nearly 30 years. But youth-led change is chronically under-resourced. This is a chance to change this on a UK-wide scale. What the Steering Group has already created is inspiring and we are looking forward to seeing the creativity, joy, and passion young people across the UK bring to creating sustainable social change.”

Alex Kent, co-CEO, Restless Development, said: “The Young Gamechangers Fund is an incredible opportunity to shift real power to young people – moving money, resources and decision-making to lead us through the challenges our communities face. Never has this fund been needed more, we’re so excited to be delivering it this year.”


For more information please contact:

Leona Everitt or Katie Abbotts at Sonder Communications

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Notes to editors

About the Young Gamechangers Fund

The Young Gamechangers Fund is part of the Co-op Foundation’s wider support for youth activism and shared power. A group of 100 diverse young people helped the Foundation develop its vision of future, fair communities and now the team is working with young people and others to bring this to life.

The Young Gamechangers Fund is delivered in the UK will be and delivered by partners Global Fund for Children and Restless Development. This means that in addition to long-term funding, successful applicants will also get access to peer support networks, training and mentoring to help their vision come to life. Learnings will be shared along the way so more funders, charities and co-operators can confidently give power to young people.

About the Co-op Foundation

We’re the Co-op’s charity and we’re co-operating for a fairer world. We believe co-operation is at the heart of strong communities and this makes us a different kind of funder. We work closely with communities, we listen and we learn. We unlock communities’ power by focusing on those who have most at stake. We asked young people to shape our vision, and now we’re co-operating with them and others to turn this into reality.

Let’s build communities of the future together.

About Co-op

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance, and legal services, recognised as an industry leader for its sustainabilit4 and community-led programmes. Owned by over 4 million UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 800 funeral homes and provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited.

Global Fund for Children (GFC) partners with community-based organisations around the world, helping them deepen their impact and develop their capacity for social change. By offering flexible funding and a range of capacity development services, GFC centers children, young people, and their communities as drivers of systemic change. Since 1997, we have invested over $56 million in more than 1,000 organisations worldwide.

Restless Development is a non-profit global agency that supports the collective power of young leaders to create a better world. Every year they train, mentor, nurture and connect thousands of young people to use their youth power in their communities. Restless Development believes that how they do their work is as important as what they do. To recognise this, they have embraced a power-shifting approach that recognises the growing inequalities and injustices in our world and intentionally shifts power; enabling young people and communities who have previously been marginalised to lead change.

About Co-op Live

Oak View Group (OVG), City Football Group (CFG), Harry Styles, and Co-op are joining forces to create Co-op Live, the biggest and best arena in the UK. Based in Manchester, the project is injecting £365m of private investment into the Northwest. Co-op Live will be one of the world’s premier music and entertainment venues, rivalling New York’s Madison Square Garden, The Forum in LA and The O2 in London.

World class, planet friendly and at the heart of the local community, Co-op Live will deliver one of the world’s most pioneering, sustainable, and socially responsible venues, delivering Co-op’s vision of a fairer world into the entertainment industry. The project will create 3,350 constructions jobs, full-time jobs and apprenticeships, and over 2,000 casual jobs ahead of opening in 2024, as well as giving over £1m back to national and local good causes.

Co-op Live will be located on the Etihad Campus, and will host live music, sport, comedy, award shows and family entertainment. Co-op Live’s smart ‘bowl’ design means it is big but intimate with cutting edge visual technology, incredible acoustics and 32 bars, restaurants, lounges, and club spaces.

#iwill Fund

  • The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £66 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities.
  • The #iwill Fund brings together a group of organisations who all contribute funding to embed meaningful social action into the lives of young people.
  • The #iwill Fund supports the aims of the #iwill movement – to make involvement in social action a part of life for young people, by recognising the benefit for both young people and their communities.
  • By bringing together funders from across different sectors and by making sure that young people have a say in where the funding goes – the #iwill Fund is taking a collaborative approach.

The #iwill movement

  • The #iwill movement is a collaboration of over 1000 organisations and 300 young #iwill Ambassadors from across the UK. They are united by a shared belief that all children and young people should be supported and empowered to make a positive difference on the issues that affect their lives, their communities, and broader society.
  • #iwill was launched in November 2013 after an independent review into how different sectors could help more young people to make a positive difference.
  • The #iwill movement is supported by an independent coordination hub, hosted by Volunteering Matters & UK Youth.
  • Take the lead by signing up to the Power of Youth Charter at or follow us @iwill_movement on twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

The National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest non-statutory community funder in the UK – community is at the heart of our purpose, vision and name.

We support activities that create resilient communities that are more inclusive and environmentally sustainable and that will strengthen society and improve lives across the UK.

We’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to work closely with government to distribute vital grants and funding from key government programmes and initiatives.

As well as responding to what communities tell us is important to them, our funding is focused on four key missions, supporting communities to:

  • Come together
  • Be environmentally sustainable
  • Help children and young people thrive
  • Enable people to live healthier lives.

Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, we distribute around £500 million a year through 10,000+ grants and plan to invest over £4 billion of funding into communities by 2030. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

National Lottery players raise over £30 million each week for good causes throughout the UK. Since The National Lottery began in 1994, £47 billion has been raised and more than 670,000 individual grants have been made across the UK – the equivalent of around 240 National Lottery grants in every UK postcode district.


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