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Our funding themes

We’ll focus all our work around improving the conditions that keep children and young people safe from becoming involved in violence.

The Youth Endowment Fund is here to improve the lives of children and young people. We’re building all of our work around a set of themes – the conditions that we think children and young people need in their lives to keep them safe from becoming involved in violence.

This set of themes provide a focus for the knowledge we want to build about what works to help put these conditions in place for every child and young person.

Each of our themed grant rounds will explore an area of interest linked to one of the themes below.

Our themes

A safe, positive place to learn

Keeping children engaged in their education helps to keep them safe from involvement in violence. We’ll look at making sure schools, colleges, Pupil Referral Units and other forms of schooling have programmes in place to make sure they’re safe, positive places to learn.

Another chance

Sometimes things go wrong. If a young person gets into trouble, is arrested or convicted of a crime, they need a route to take an alternative path and avoid a cycle of re-offending.

A supportive home

Whether it’s through family therapy or parenting classes, we know that helping parents and carers can make a difference to children at risk of becoming involved in violence. This includes specific support for children in care.

A young person from YES Outdoors explains the importance of a supportive home in shielding young people from violence.

A safe neighbourhood

Having a strong friendship network and safe places to go in their neighbourhood means that children and young people can keep safe. That might include opportunities to take part in a sports team or the chance to make art or music. And it involves policing that that is effective, fair and trusted.

A young person from YEF grantee YES Outdoors talks about the importance of safe spaces in communities.

Social skills and good mental health

Children and young people need to develop social and emotional skills. If they can recognise and manage their feelings, they can build strong relationships with other people and overcome the challenges they face. The also need the best possible support, to improve their mental health and self-esteem.

Adults they trust

It might be a teacher, youth worker, sport coach, mentor or friend of the family. Children and young people need adults they can trust to talk through their problems and get help when they need it.

A young person from YES Outdoors talks about the affection he has for staff at his local youth club.


Young people need opportunities – whether it’s employment, training or education. A bright future, with the chance to build their strengths and talents, can protect young people from becoming involved in violence.

A young person from YES Outdoors chats about the need for training and employment opportunities for young people.

A fair society

To make sure that every child gets the same chances in life, we need to work to make society fairer. That means tackling racism, discrimination and poverty.

How were these themes decided?

When we launched our strategy in October 2020, we asked everyone working to keep children and young people safe to shape our future. Over 450 of you – including teachers, community and youth workers, police officers to social workers – shared your ideas and experiences. We made sure that we heard from young people too. Working with our partners at Leaders Unlocked, we spoke to young people with lived experience of violence and the youth justice system. We also looked at the evidence, which shows us some of the things that can help to protect children from involvement in crime.

We know that, over time, evidence might change. And your views – and young people’s – might not always stay the same. So, over the life of the fund, we’ll keep revisiting these themes to make sure they’re right. We’ll keep listening to you and adapting. Because to get this right, we need to work together.

Find out more about how your feedback made a difference. Read our ‘Turning what we heard into action’ report.

© 2022 The Youth Endowment Fund Charitable Trust. Registered Charity Number: 1185413.
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