Created in 2020 to put racial justice at the heart of COVID-19 pandemic response, the Phoenix Fund supports a network of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic charities and groups in England that are working in the heart of their communities to provide essential and emergency services and tailored support and education.
A collaborative panel of individuals who have understanding and lived experience working with Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities drive the fund’s grantmaking decisions, awarding grants to BAME-centred and -led community organisations.
The Phoenix Fund was established with the support of The National Lottery Community Fund and Global Fund for Children. The National Lottery Community Fund has committed £2.4 million to the Phoenix Fund, made possible thanks to National Lottery players. GFC is providing strategic advice and facilitation, as well as administrative, grantmaking, and communications support.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and protests for racial justice swept the world, the need to decisively support BAME leadership and relief efforts had never been clearer.
April 2020 survey data from the Ubele Initiative, a convening partner of the Phoenix Fund, showed that nine out of ten micro and small BAME organisations in the UK were at risk of closing within three months due to COVID-19. This research helped prompt the convening of BAME-led infrastructure and community groups from across England, leading to the co-creation of the Phoenix Fund.
For years, BAME organisations have faced systemic barriers to accessing resources to carry out their vital work. Adding to these challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected BAME organisations and populations, deepening racial inequality and threatening these organisations’ existence.
While the initial Phoenix Fund grants focused on ensuring that BAME organisations could survive and continue serving their communities, the Phoenix Fund’s goals go well beyond COVID-19 response. Recognizing the need to prioritise racial justice, the Phoenix Fund is committed to supporting historically underfunded groups – and trusting them to know best how to use the funding they receive.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank you and the wider Phoenix Fund team for how you have administered the grant process so far. You have been super supportive while remaining open and giving us the space to evolve and continue to be responsive to our community’s changing needs. We really appreciate this.” – Pride of Arabia, London
From August through September 2020, Global Fund for Children and The National Lottery Community Fund invited organisations in England that are led by representatives of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities to apply for grants of up to £20,000. The Phoenix Fund received 1,347 applications for funding and awarded a total of £2 million to 184 groups, helping them to weather the pandemic, serve their communities, and strengthen their operations.
Phoenix Fund grant winners received flexible, core funding to meet critical needs and continue their organisations’ missions. Core funding more effectively supports local groups with limited access to resources, which are often restricted to specific interventions. Making a grant flexible allows an organisation to make its own decisions about what is most important for its operations and programmes.
“We have been delivering coding, computer science, web design, English, Maths and Science online sessions using Zoom due to the lockdown to children, young people and young adults.” – The Learning Club Community Association, London
“The Phoenix funding has allowed P.H.O.E.B.E to not only continue, but to develop our self-esteem workshops. When our funding application was submitted we only had the capacity to deliver one workshop per week to one age group. However, we are now running two workshops for two different age groups. […] The overall development of our work has allowed us to work towards reaching our main goal of reducing gender-based violence, and improve their mental health, and resilience.” – P.H.O.E.B.E. Centre, Ipswich
The Phoenix Fund was established with the support of The National Lottery Community Fund and Global Fund for Children. The £2.4 million commitment from The National Lottery Community Fund was made possible thanks to National Lottery players and made available £2 million in grants to Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities across England and a further £400,000 to support further development of the fund.
The partnership is expected to inform The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, in developing its approach to equity and inclusion and to funding diverse groups.
Header photo provided by the Ubele Initiative, a convening partner of the Phoenix Fund.
* We recognize the diversity of individual identities and lived experiences, and we recognize that BAME is an imperfect term that does not fully capture the racial, cultural, and ethnic identities that experience structural and systematic inequality. Whenever possible, we attempt to name individuals as they themselves prefer to be named.
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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