The £2.25 million Adult and Community Learning Fund will allow organisations from across England to bid for new and imaginative adult and community learning opportunities to encourage, in particular, non-formal opportunities and help disadvantaged groups to take up and progress in learning.
The fund, from the Skills Funding Agency and to be administered by NIACE, will contribute to the Government's aspirations for Informal Adult and Community Learning. It will help build the Big Society, through learning to support independence, personal development, mental/physical health and well-being, digital inclusion, democratic engagement, social cohesion and stronger families and communities.
John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, said:
"I really welcome this initiative. Adult and community learning is an extremely important part of our education system, enhancing the lives of individuals and building a better society."
Geoff Russell, Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency, said:
"Skills should be at the heart of every community and the Government is committed to making that happen with its vision for the Big Society. The Adult and Community Learning Fund will help some of the most disadvantaged groups of adults take their first steps to learning new skills, sparking their interest in learning as a way to improving their prospects."
Peter Lavender, Deputy Chief Executive at NIACE, said:
"The Adult and Community Learning Fund is going to help maximise the impact of the Big Society and engage and motivate disadvantaged adults to help them make more of a contribution to their lives, their families and their community. This is exactly what the sector needs. The positive contribution that funds like this can make was proven by the Transformation Fund which helped stimulate new and different opportunities for adults."
"We look forward to hearing from adult learning providers, from the private, public and voluntary sectors, and organisations which reach a whole diversity of adults and communities. The projects will help demonstrate the role adult learning plays in the achievement of a range of the government's wider social policy goals. This might include the resettlement of offenders, inter-generational learning, and support for independent and active later life."
The Adult and Community Learning Fund is offered in two ways - small grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 and larger grants of between £25,000 and £75,000 are available. For bids of £50,000 and over, some additional resources in cash or ‘in kind' are expected. All projects should be ready to start by 1 September 2011 and all activity needs to be completed by 31 March 2012.
The closing date for applications is noon on Friday 10 June 2011. More information, including a prospectus and application form can be at www.niace.org.uk/current-work/adult-and-community-learning-fund-aclf