ESFA Community Training Grants – updated deadline 22nd March 2021

Article date
8 February 2021
Primary interest
Voluntary sector

Grants of £5,000 – £20,000 are available for projects in the Thames Valley Berkshire area that help people improve their employment prospects by either moving them into employment or by establishing a route towards employment.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), and European Social Fund (ESF) are co-financing the grant scheme to help projects which develop both tangible and emotional skills.

Who can apply?

Smaller organisations that are grassroots and closest to those who face barriers to employment and training.

Your organisation must have a bank account to be eligible.

Your organisation can apply more than once but applicants who have not already been funded may be prioritised.

Applications will be accepted from:

  • Third Sector organisations (charities, Community Interest Companies, Charitable Incorporate Organisations, Social Enterprises, community groups etc.)
  • Small organisations with fewer than 49 equivalent staff and a turnover or balance sheet of less than €10 million (around £8.9 million).
What are the funders’ priorities?

The ESFA has highlighted four priority groups that it wishes to engage with*:

  • Participants over 50 years of age;
  • Participants with disabilities;
  • Participants from Ethnic Minorities; and
  • Participants who are women.
What can you apply for / use the grant for?

The focus is to fund projects which support individuals who are either unemployed or economically inactive, through advice, guidance, education and training opportunities. Proposed participants to your project must be 16 or over, have the right to work in the UK and be economically inactive or unemployed.

The aim is to benefit those who are furthest away from the labour market, and start participants’ progress back to employment. In addition to formal skills training this can also be activities which have softer benefits, such as work readiness, confidence or anger management.

In addition to these programme wide priorities, the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP has the following priority:

  • Thames Valley Berkshire: residents in areas of multiple deprivation and people in particular communities of interest (rather than geographically focused), who share common barriers to economic and social inclusion.

* NB: this does not mean that projects which do not have those participants are ineligible.

Is there a deadline?

This is a rolling programme. Applications can be made at any time and will be considered at panel meetings taking place approximately every two months. The next deadline is 22 March 2021, 9am. Applicants submitting by 15 March, 9am, can get feedback on their applications to make final improvement before the deadline.

It takes up to four to five months for organisations to receive a decision on their application and Groundwork recommends that organisations apply as soon as possible as it expects competition to increase as the programme continues.

They regularly offer applicant workshops which are an opportunity to learn more about the programme and ask questions. Sign up to one below:

Further information and support

 Visit the Groundworks website here for more information, guidance notes, FAQ’s and to apply online.   

If you have any queries please do get in touch with the team on

Groundworks have also published a promotional video introducing the programme and featuring some of their existing projects.

You will need to have specific governance in place such as a constitution, accounts, a safeguarding policy, and a well considered budget breakdown. If you require support with this, please contact Herjeet at