The ESF Community Grant Programme is already helping many people in Greater Manchester who face additional barriers in the labour market to improve their employability and gain employment. We are now launching our Step Ahead Round.

The Step Ahead round seeks applications from a wide range of voluntary organisations who are ready to reach out by using approaches which tackle the new and emerging barriers arising from the impact of COVID 19, working both remotely and within social distancing requirements, once restrictions are eased. 

Small grants of up to £20,000 are available across Greater Manchester to eligible organisations in the VCSE sector. 

Projects should look to develop and maintain participant connections to learning experiences. Project activity should support, maintain and improve participant employability and resilience. Activities should develop progression routes into employment, Further Education and training for participants

All project activity must be within the current government COVID restrictions, but should include flexibility to adapt as and when those restrictions change in future months.

The funding can help ALL who are out of work or economically inactive but especially those that:

  • Are homeless or at risk of being homeless
  • Have low or no qualifications
  • Lack literacy and numeracy skills
  • Are lone parents
  • Have disabilities, learning difficulties or health conditions
  • Are from ethnic minorities
  • Are aged over 50
  • Young NEET people [aged 16 and above]

This programme covers the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs, and all eligible participants must live in Greater Manchester.

The deadline for applications is 8am. on Monday 26th April 2021.

Click here to find out if you are eligible and to apply

We will be running three Information Sessions by Zoom where you can find out more. Simply follow the link below to register and you will be sent a calendar invite.

Tuesday 13th April, 10am – 11am

Friday 16th April, 1.30pm – 2.30pm

Wednesday 21st April, 4pm – 5pm

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For any other queries please email