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Funding opportunity: The Cornerstone Fund

Author: Trust for London

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Closing date for Stage 1 applications: 22 March 2021
Workshop for interested applicants: w/c 1 March 2021 (details TBC)
Funder panel considering Stage 1 applications: w/c 12 April (details TBC)

The Cornerstone Fund is a funder collaboration currently involving City Bridge Trust, the GLA, the National Lottery Community Fund, Trust for London and the John Lyons Charity. Now on its second round of funding, our collective vision is for London to be a city where all individuals and communities can thrive. Our mission is to reduce inequality and grow stronger, more resilient and thriving communities for a London that serves everyone.

The Cornerstone Fund aims to bring about systemic change, enabling civil society support organisations to collaborate to achieve the goals of: a thriving civil society that is adaptable, resilient, collaborative, sustainable and driven by communities, with a focus on tackling deep seated structural inequalities to improve outcomes for Londoners.

The Cornerstone Fund was established in 2018 and is now open to a second round of applications. Funding will be provided for collaborations for up to three years. Find out more information about Round 1 and a summary of the projects that were supported.

Obviously, these are unprecedented times and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on civil society and the communities they serve including organisations providing infrastructure support to the sector, cannot be underestimated. This second round of funding will need to reflect the crisis in which we are all working.

We want to support collaborations and partnership approaches aiming to bring about systemic change to tackle structural inequalities and build stronger, more resilient communities. In the spirit of ‘systems change’, we also aim to challenge the traditional funder/fundee power relationship. We will only consider partnership approaches led by voluntary sector organisations delivering civil society support.

We are particularly interested in, and will prioritise, collaborations and partnerships that are led by those with lived experience/are user-led.

We encourage the development of cross-sector partnerships that include public and business sector partners.

We welcome applications from:

We understand that tackling systemic issues takes a long time – often far longer than the three year duration of the grants offered through this Fund. The Fund is an opportunity to develop the foundations for longer term change.

Partnerships that already hold a Cornerstone (Round 1) Grant should initially speak to their existing funder about the possibility of continuation funding, but are not excluded from submitting a Round 2 application.

This is a two stage process:

Stage 1

Submit an outline proposal setting out your idea, who will be involved and what costs and resources you need to develop this from an initial idea into a full ‘Stage 2’ proposal.

The sort of costs you may wish to cover include:

  • the cost (including staff time) of scoping your proposed project
  • developing relationships with your (proposed) partners/collaborators)
  • convening your (proposed) partners/collaborators
  • researching the area of need you have identified
  • testing ideas and consulting with your stakeholders

However, this list is not exhaustive. The principal aim of the development grant is to resource you to develop a successful Stage 2 application that has been co-designed with your partners/collaborators.

Register with the City Bridge Trust portal to submit your outline proposal.

Your Stage 1 application will need to demonstrate that it meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • Is led by those with lived experience/user-led
  • Is locally-led
  • Gives meaningful voice and empowerment to those who are marginalised and under-represented
  • Enables community participation/engagement
  • Works in areas traditionally underfunded and/or with limited infrastructure.

A group of aligned funders will consider the ideas put forward and development grants of up to £25,000 will then be offered to the strongest applicants to work up their Stage 2 proposal. A timescale to work up the second-stage proposal will be agreed between the funder and applicant up to a maximum of 6 months.

Collaborations/partnerships that are ‘ready to go’ can be fast-tracked to submit their second-stage proposal without the need for a development phase (see below).

Stage 2

If you are successful at Stage 1, you will be invited to submit a Stage 2 fuller proposal using the format of one of the aligned funders for funding for up to three years.

Successful candidates will work alongside each other; the group of aligned funders and with the Cornerstone Fund Learning Partner in order to share learning and to help build all our understanding of the challenges, opportunities and impact of these systems change initiatives.

As with Round 1, a Learning Partner will be appointed to work alongside the Round 2 cohort to develop a peer learning network involving both grantees and funders to understand the challenges, opportunities and impact of these systems change initiatives and to help share as widely as possible the learning , as well as the funding approach. It will be important to understand the potential of funded partnerships to contribute to long term systemic change, and the different routes to achieving this.

23 February 2021