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Aspiring Communities

In Focus

The Scottish Government’s new two year £18.9 million Aspiring Communities Fund is currently inviting applications for the first funding round.  This funding round closes on the 7th April 2017.  There are two stages that organisations should consider applying for, and we intend to run several funding rounds for both stages.  This challenge Fund is being delivered by Social Justice and Regeneration Division, with the Scottish Government as Lead Partner for the 2014-2020 European Social Fund (ESF) Programme.

About the Fund

The Fund will help enable community bodies and third sector organisations in our most deprived and fragile communities to develop and deliver long-term local solutions that address local priorities and needs, increase active inclusion and build on the assets of local communities to reduce poverty and to enable inclusive growth.  Successful projects will put communities first by involving local people in the process and support the aims of the Fairer Scotland Action Plan to change deep seated, multi-generational deprivation, poverty and inequalities.  Through this fund we will explore partnership approaches between statutory bodies and local communities with a shared interest in exploring new and sustainable ways of working to improve local outcomes. 

The fund will contribute to the achievement of the Scottish ESF Operational Programme targets for:

  • Community based or community services supported

  • New childcare places available

  • Deprived or fragile communities supported

and Aspiring Communities Fund targets for:

  • Increase in earned turnover of supported organisations

  • New or improved community owned assets (capital for acquisition from other non ESF sources).

What It Will Fund

The aim of this funding is to strengthen and empower communities, increase levels of economic activity, stimulate inclusive growth, local service provision and inclusion by:

  • Enabling communities to design and establish new or enhanced services addressing poverty and inequalities;

  • Supporting staff posts within community organisations to increase levels of economic activity, local service provision and inclusion, and enhance community resilience.

  • Accelerating the implementation of projects and services delivering longer lastingsolutions that empower individuals and communities to shape their futures by involving local people in the process.

Empowering communities can be achieved by:

  • delivering on community-led solutions that tackle priorities that matter most to communities,  or

  • for more vulnerable and harder to reach groups, through local interventions that act as a catalyst for engagement and offer opportunities and pathways for social and community integration.

Following a flat rate cost model, the Fund will contribute to direct staff costs and indirect costs associated with delivery of approved Structural Funds activity.

The Fund supports new or enhanced activity only, and cannot be used for activities previously or currently funded under any other ESF funding programmes.

Further Information

The application and guidance note can be found at the links below.

Completed applications must be submitted to AspiringCommunities@gov.scot by 5pm on the 7th April 2017.  Applicants must read the guidance and help notes when completing the application form. 

Information Events

We will be holding a series of information events around the country to enable those interested in this fund to learn more about it from Scottish Government officials and network with other groups interested in the fund.  The events will consist of a presentation from Scottish Government officials followed by a Q&A session.  There will be time after for tea, coffee and networking.

The events currently scheduled are:





Booking Link

Booking Deadline



Victoria Quay

14:00 – 15:00

Session Full




GCVS, Albany Centre

10.00 – 11.00

Session Full




GCVS, Albany Centre

14:00 – 15:00

Session Full




Maryhill Burgh Hall

14:00 – 15:00

Session Full




Longman House

13:00 – 14:00

Session Full




Aberdeen Science Centre

14:00 – 15:30

Click Here

17:00 23/02/17


Castle Douglas

Castle Douglas Town Hall

11:30 – 12:30

Click Here

17:00 27/02/17

02/03/2017 Arbroath Angus Carers Centre 11:00 – 12:00 Click Here 17:00 01/03/17



Galashiels Rugby Club

11:30 – 12:30

Click Here

17:00 02/03/17

Depending on demand, more events may be added at a later date.  Please check this page or for the most up to date information.

If you are unable to attend an event we will share information stemming from these sessions, including a list of frequently asked questions.