We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

Aspiring Communities

This content is not being updated. You can find the latest Scottish Government content on the Third Sector at https://beta.gov.scot.

Aspiring Communities


                                                        European Social Fund Logo

The Aspiring Communities Fund is now closed to applications. 

All applications to the Aspiring Communities Fund have now been assessed and the lead applicants contacted by email with their results.  If you have not received an email, please contact the Aspiring Communities Team on 0300 244 4000 or email aspiring.communities@gov.scot.

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.

NEW – please note that the webpages for ESF Guidance documents have recently moved to here

NEW - Further Information – Presentation Slides and Frequently Asked Questions 

We held a series of information events across the country in February and March, attended by over 1000 people.  You can access the presentation from the events here

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) from the events, you can access it here. The FAQs will continue to be updated to respond to mailbox enquiries (most recent update: 4 April 2017). 

Application Form (For information only)

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.