Apply for funding

How to apply

Applications for the Skills & Opportunities Fund are now open and will remain open until midday on Friday 3 March 2017.

Make sure you sign up to our mailing list to receive updates and be the first to hear when the winners are announced. 

To be eligible, your project must focus on a disadvantaged community within the UK or Republic of Ireland, and help people to develop, create or access the skills and opportunities they need to help themselves; skills that will increase their financial capability, or enable them to get into work or start a business, now or in the future. The maximum amount that an organisation can apply for is £35,000. You must be a not-for-profit organisation, a registered charity or state-funded school or college. Remember to look at your region’s priorities and make sure your application meets these before you submit it.

We’ve also put together guides to help you fill in the application form:

"We’ve also put together 4 guides to help you fill in the application form depending on your bank or region"

- RBS guide
- Natwest guide
- Northern Ireland guide
- Republic of Ireland guide
"We’ve also put together 4 guides to help you fill in the application form depending on your bank or region"

- RBS guide
- Natwest guide
- Northern Ireland guide
- Republic of Ireland guide

Are you eligible to apply?

Please read through the eligibility criteria checklist below.

  • About your organisation

    Your organisation must

    • be a not-for-profit organisation or an eligible state-funded education body e.g. charity, social enterprise, community group, school, college.
    • be based in either the UK or Republic of Ireland.
    • be able to demonstrate experience of working in and/or with disadvantaged communities.
    • be able to demonstrate experience in measuring the impact of your projects.
    • have a turnover of less than £10 million or be a state-funded school or college.
    • have been trading for at least 2 years (we can accept applications from schools who have been trading for less than 2 years).

    Definition of disadvantaged communities

    We see this as either a geographical community suffering from a high level of deprivation (this can be checked using the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD)) or a ‘community of interest’ such as young people, lone parents, the BME community and those with disability.

  • About your project

    Your project must

    • have a strong track record of delivering the project activities promised.
    • be able to meet the priorities set for the region in which your project will be delivered.
    • focus on one of the following themes: enterprise and entrepreneurship, or financial capability.
    • not require Skills & Opportunities grant funding of more than 20% of your organisation’s turnover.
  • Timescales


    • Your project must be completed within 18 months of the award.
  • Exclusions

    Your organisation and project must not

    • have received funding from the RBS Inspiring Enterprise programme, Large Grants programme, Skills & Opportunities Fund or the Ulster Bank Community Impact Fund in the last 12 months.
    • compete with existing bank programmes: view a list here to check.
    • be a local authority or public sector body. Councils, ministerial and non-ministerial departments, agencies and public corporations are not eligible for this fund.
    • be sectarian or political.
    • be a university, an ex-service/veteran not-for-profit club, a trade union, fraternal, or professional society.
    • seek funding for costs not directly related to the project, or for excluded activities such as personal appeals, research projects or sports teams (unless the outcomes are related to employability, enterprise or education).
    • be seeking funding for a capital-only project. Funding for capital costs must not exceed 25% of overall project costs.
  • What paperwork you need

    You must be prepared to provide the following documents when you apply

    • your governing documents as evidence you are not-for-profit or state funded.
    • a full set of accounts for the most recent year (not required for schools).
  • Questions about eligibility

    • If you have any questions about the above eligibility criteria, email us at or call on 0191 438 7999

What happens next

When all applications have been received and reviewed, we’ll publish a shortlist of projects being considered for funding in each region. Voting will then be open to the public. The outcome of the public vote will be taken into consideration by the regional judging panels. We’ll give you lots of help and advice on how to gain votes if you reach the shortlist of projects. The chosen projects will receive their funding in June of this year. 

Deadline for application

The deadline for applications for Round 1 2017 is midday on Friday 3 March. If you missed this round, don’t worry, there will be another opportunity to apply in August 2017.