Belfast Telegraph

RBS setting up £2.5m community fund to build skills

By Staff Reporter

A new £2.5m fund has been launched for charities, social enterprises, community groups, state-funded schools and colleges across the UK and Ireland.

The Skills & Opportunities fund, established by Royal Bank of Scotland and subsidiaries Ulster Bank and NatWest, is open for applications now, enabling organisations to support disadvantaged communities by helping people to learn new skills, get into the world of work or set up their own business.

Representatives of qualifying organisations can apply for funding of up to £35,000 for their projects via an online portal.

Funding of £2.5m will be available annually which will be distributed across seven regions in the UK and Ireland. The fund allocation for island of Ireland is £220,000 per year for each of the next three years.

Applications will close on Friday at noon.

Each region has a judging panel that will review all shortlisted applications. Their decision will be combined with the results of the public vote, which will count as one judge. The first round of successful projects will receive their funding weeks starting July 13 this year.

Welcoming the news, Nora Smith, chief executive of Chief Officers 3rd Sector (CO3), said: "CO3 welcomes this new fund from Ulster Bank as a way of supporting innovative projects right across the sector. Third sector organisations help to make a lasting difference in communities right across Northern Ireland, and we would encourage them to avail of this exciting opportunity."

Richard Donnan, managing director of retail markets at Ulster Bank, said: "As a bank, we're an integral part of local communities across Northern Ireland, and we understand the benefits of encouraging entrepreneurship.

"Through the new Skills & Opportunities Fund, we want to help more people learn new skills, get into work or start a business.

"As we work towards our ambition of being number one for trust, customer service, and advocacy, we believe it's important to encourage these great projects right across Northern Ireland."

To learn more about the fund or to apply for funding visit:

Belfast Telegraph