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Applications for support in 2024-25 have now closed. The details below are being shared for the benefit of applicants who submitted their forms by the deadline on 29th February 2024.

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Education – Early Years Grants Programme 2024-26

Education – Early Years Grants Programme 2024-26

The details below are being shared for the benefit of applicants who submitted their forms by the deadline on 29th February 2024.

The Leathersellers’ Foundation and Merchant Taylors’ Foundation are delighted to launch a two-year grants programme, to support early years education projects in the London Borough of Lewisham. Applications are now open. 

Grants of £10,000 – £20,000 per year will be provided for up to two years.

Applications Close: 6pm, 29th February 2024

We appreciate the time and effort that fundraising takes. We aim to be as clear as possible about what we do and do not fund, how to apply for a grant and how long the process usually takes. Please look at the information in each of the tabs below before you apply.

Criteria and Eligibility

The Programme aims to support organisations to provide or increase access to early years development opportunities for young children* from low-income households in Lewisham through:

  • expanding their existing reach or current work and/or
  • testing a new approach that has been shown to work elsewhere

*For the purposes of this programme, ‘young children’ refers to children aged 0-3 years, with consideration to support projects working with children up to 5 years if sufficient need/impact can be demonstrated.

To be eligible to apply, projects must:

  • Be based in the London Borough of Lewisham
  • Plan to offer activities to help a child’s development in at least 1 of the 7 areas of learning within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and/or improve children’s access to such opportunities. Further details on these definitions are provided in the relevant tab.
  • Be able to demonstrate an evidenced need for the proposed service or project
  • Be applying for a minimum of £10,000 and a maximum of £20,000 per year for a maximum of two years for a relevant early years education project
  • Be applying from an incorporated organisation that will provide the activities detailed – this could be a registered charity, CIO, CIC, nursery, school or similar early years education provider.

Please note:

  • We welcome applications on behalf of groups of providers, but there must be one lead applicant for the duration of the project, with whom all communications will be made.
  • If you have been awarded a grant previously, by either the Leathersellers’ Foundation or Merchant Taylors’ Foundation, you are still able to apply. However please specify the name(s) and date(s) of the grant award(s) in the relevant part of the form (regarding connections to either Livery Company).
  • Applications will be prioritised that focus on particular areas of need geographically within the borough, or with low-income or marginalised groups within the community, but do not need to provide services exclusively to these groups.

Process and Timing

Applications opened at 10am on Tuesday 9th January 2024
Applications closed at 6pm on Thursday 29th February 2024

These will then be reviewed and you will be contacted regarding any follow up questions.

Applicants were informed as to whether they had been shortlisted or not by the 28th March 2024.

Shortlisted applicants were contacted to arrange a visit in April/May by representatives of one or both Foundations for the application to be discussed in more depth. The findings from that meeting will be considered by representatives of both Foundations, with a final decision made by 28th June 2024.

You will receive immediate confirmation of receipt of your application via email from (please check your junk/spam folders as this is an automated system and so may get caught).

Applying online

You must make your application via our online form which will be linked here when the programme is open.

You can download an offline version of the form in Word by clicking here to prepare and save your answers in advance.

Please note:

  • You don’t need to do it all at once – you can save your progress and sign back in at anytime until you submit.
  • We ask you to supply a budget and forecast income for the project in simple table format (uploaded as a separate document).
  • Once you have submitted the form you will receive an immediate email acknowledgement from you know it has been received safely (please check your junk/spam folder as this is an automated email and so may get caught).
  • We notify all applicants via email on the outcome of their application.


Unfortunately, as we have only small Grants teams at both Foundations it is not possible for us to provide feedback to all applicants. Applicants that have been shortlisted and taken part in a meeting will be offered feedback.

No, this grants programme has an open application process and you do not need to have an introduction to be able to apply. If you do have a particular connection to either the Leathersellers’ or the Merchant Taylors’ Company, you can note that in your application.

No, if your requested sum is larger than the Foundations consider appropriate, they may grant a smaller amount. Your funding request is not an all or nothing consideration.

Yes, applications can be made on behalf of a partnership or group, whether you are a member of such a partnership or group or whether you represent a group of providers but do not provide funded activities directly. Please make clear on the relevant section(s) of the form who your delivery partners are, or which providers you are representing.

Definitions and further detail

For the purposes of this programme we have defined a number of terms we are using and provided further detail below. If you have any other questions please contact us on

Young Children refers to children aged 0-3 years, though we will consider supporting projects working with children up to 5 years if sufficient need / impact can be demonstrated.

We are aiming to support projects that offer activities to help a child’s development in at least 1 of the 7 areas of learning within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and/or improve young children’s access to such opportunities.

The seven areas of learning within EYFS are

  • communication and language
  • personal, social and emotional development
  • physical development
  • literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world
  • expressive arts and design

We are looking to support projects that provide opportunities and activities for young children from low-income households.

In general we would anticipate most projects would use eligibility for free school meals as a measure, however if applicant organisations use a different measure already that they see as more valid, we are happy to have that explained in the application and used for the project.