University of Edinburgh

Highly Commended

Supporting local action for a better Edinburgh

Since 2017, the University of Edinburgh has provided grants to local community organisations for projects which have a positive social impact for people living locally. The emphasis is on supporting groups who have the least in a city which is one of the most unequal in the UK (Edinburgh Poverty Commission, 2020).

While partnership between community organisations and the University is encouraged, the ethos is that communities know what they need and how to achieve it. Four years in, the longer-term positive impacts of some funded projects are now being seen. The Y2K ‘180’ project, seed-funded by the University in 2018, is going strong and has been in even more need by young people due to the pandemic.

The University is one of very few globally to make community-led funding awards and offers the most funding out of all. Still, conscious that £50,000 per year is still modest, the University has both doubled this figure in practice and provided other support alongside it.

What the Judges Thought

This application was a fantastic example of grassroots development that can be replicable and scalable across many institutions. We were really impressed with how the institution were using their financial opportunities to support the local community to reduce inequalities. The application was clear, comprehensive and demonstrated well how they measured both impact and performance to a high standard. 

What it Means to Win

“Our mission is to deliver positive impact for society, by discovering, developing and sharing knowledge. The University is committed to supporting a lower-carbon, healthier, more sustainable and equitable future. The Green Gown Awards provide an opportunity to recognise the efforts of our staff and students to help us achieve this.”

Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Top 3 Learnings

  1. We’ve learned that awarding the grant is just the start of the relationship.
  2. We trust community organisations to spend money well and avoid bureaucracy.
  3. We remind ourselves of the bigger funding and societal picture within which our grants exist.
1- No Poverty 3 - Good Health and Well-Being 16 - Peace Justice and Strong Institutions 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
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