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YIF Learning Project

The Youth Investment Fund (YIF) was a £40 million investment in young people from the Government and the The National Lottery Community Fund which ran from April 2017 - December 2020.

Click here to access the interactive YIF dashboard to get an overview of our shared evaluation and to explore our findings.

The Youth Investment Fund (2017-2020) provided new opportunities for young people to get involved in their communities, and aimed to support the personal development of hundreds of thousands of young people across England, building their confidence and supporting their transition to becoming happy, healthy and economically active adults. In total 90 grantees were funded for three years to deliver a range of activities including traditional open access provision, sports, arts, social action, support services and training. The grantees were based in six regions - East London, Liverpool City Region, West Midlands, Tees Valley and Sunderland, Bristol & Somerset and Eastern Counties. The YIF Learning Project was led by NPC (New Philanthropy Capital) in partnership with the Centre for Youth Impact and a range of specialist learning organisations who led on specific elements of the work.

Aims of the Learning Project

The Learning Project aimed to both develop new approaches to understanding and evaluating open access youth work and contribute to the evidence base within this area. It was a rare opportunity to really get the learning and evaluation tools right for open access youth work. Specifically, the project:

  • Designed, piloted and implemented new data collection approaches for open access youth provision
  • Developed a shared measurement framework and piloted associated outcomes measures
  • Collected and collated data from the grantee organisations
  • Shared learning and methodology
  • Reported findings on ‘what works’ and the impact of open access youth services, including a process evaluation
  • Tested the feasibility of approaches to understanding value for money in open access provision
  • Provided tailored support and capacity building training to grantees in order to embed impact evaluation within ongoing youth work practice.

Methods

It is no coincidence that there has been very little impact evaluation in open access provision — it presents particular challenges to traditional or established approaches to impact measurement.  Open access, non-formal youth provision is often based on relationships or approach, rather than activities or journeys with a defined beginning, middle and end. Additionally, young people are likely to engage in very different ways, or have very different experiences of provision. Recognising these challenges, the Learning Project is taking a broader approach to data collection. We focused on five types of data (beneficiary, feedback, quality, outcomes and counter-factual data), which allowed us to develop a more comprehensive picture of a young person’s experience of youth provision.

In addition, we undertook distinct process evaluation and value for money strands of work.

“We are proud to have played a part - thanks to National Lottery funding- in YIF, a joint investment between us and DCMS, which expanded the delivery of open access youth services across England and enabled funded organisations to invest in their own development to increase the sustainability of this youth provision.”

Elly de Decker, Director of England funding at The National Lottery Community Fund

Insight reports

Throughout the lifetime of the YIF Learning Project, we shared insights and learning with the following key audiences:

  • Grant holders
  • The National Lottery Community Fund and DCMS
  • The wider sector, including service deliverers, funders and commissioners, and researchers.

You can read all of the learning and insight papers published throughout the project below.

Measuring the quality and impact of open access youth provision

This paper is part of the Youth Investment Fund (YIF) learning project legacy resources and proposes an updated shared theory of change for open access youth provision and a set of revised or alternative measures to help understand and improve impact.

Youth Investment Fund: Learning and Insight Paper Eight

As part of the Youth Investment Fund (YIF) learning project, we sought to develop a model that estimates the long-term value of open access youth services for participants and society at large.

In this paper, we present the findings of our tested model, using outcomes data collected as part of the YIF shared evaluation (see Learning and Insight Paper 7). This data set included outcomes data from twelve grant- holders who collected baseline and three month surveys from young people and eleven grant-holders who collected baseline and six month surveys. 

Executive Summary - YIF Insight paper 8

As part of the Youth Investment Fund (YIF) learning project, we sought to develop a model that estimates the long-term value of open access youth services for participants and society at large.

In this executive summary, we present the findings of our tested model, using outcomes data collected as part of the YIF shared evaluation (see Learning and Insight Paper 7). This data set included outcomes data from twelve grant- holders who collected baseline and three month surveys from young people and eleven grant-holders who collected baseline and six month surveys. 

The Youth Investment Fund: Learning and Insight Paper Seven

In this paper we present the final findings from the Youth Investment Fund (YIF) shared evaluation. 

We adopted an innovative mixed-methods evaluation approach, which included a qualitative process evaluation and a quantitative impact and process evaluation. This paper summarises the findings of the latter, the specific aims of which were to:

  1. Understand which young people engaged with YIF-funded open access youth provision.

  2. Understand the types of activities experienced by young people and the ways in which young people engaged with these different activities.

  3. Understand the quality of youth provision funded by the YIF.

  4. Assess the impact of YIF-funded youth provision on young people’s outcomes.

  5. Understand which factors contribute to the impact of youth provision and in what ways.

Executive Summary - YIF Insight paper 7

In this summary, we present findings from the Youth Investment Fund (YIF) shared evaluation. 

We adopted an innovative mixed-methods evaluation approach, which included a qualitative process evaluation and a quantitative impact and process evaluation. This paper summarises the findings of the latter, the specific aims of which were to:

  • Understand which young people engaged with YIF-funded open access youth provision.

  • Understand the types of activities experienced by young people and the ways in which young people engaged with these different activities.

  • Understand the quality of youth provision funded by the YIF.

  • Assess the impact of YIF-funded youth provision on young people’s outcomes.

  • Understand which factors contribute to the impact of youth provision and in what ways.

The Youth Investment Fund: Technical report

This report accompanies YIF Insight Paper 7: Findings from the YIF shared evaluation and provides supplementary information about the Youth Investment Fund (YIF) and the learning project, including the evaluation design and data analysis. It should be used as a reference document in conjunction with the main report, which provides comprehensive information about the methodology used in the evaluation.

User guide: A Theory of Change for Open Access Youth Provision

In this user guide, we present an updated version of the YIF theory of change, taking into account lessons from the YIF learning project, including application of the theory of change in practice, alongside recent research. 

Learning and insight paper six: Looking back, looking forward

This is the sixth in a series of learning and insight papers, published as part of the learning project for the Youth Investment Fund (YIF).

In this paper we reflect on what we have learnt from the experience of the YIF learning and evaluation project, with a view to informing future open access youth provision learning and evaluation initiatives.

Learning and insight paper five: Understanding how open access youth provision works – findings from the YIF case study process evaluation

This is the fifth in a series of learning and insight papers, published as part of the learning project for the Youth Investment Fund (YIF).

This qualitative strand of the YIF learning project aimed to understand how open access youth provision (in its various forms) works, why youth organisations take the approaches they do; how provision is experienced by young people; the effect and relevance of contextual factors; and how this all relates to positive change for young people over time. Through this approach we gathered multiple perspectives (including young people, youth organisations and community stakeholders) in different local and delivery contexts, to provide a deeper understanding of how open access youth provision improves the lives of young people.

Learning and insight paper 4: Emerging findings from the Youth Investment Fund Learning Project

This short paper describes emerging findings from the YIF shared evaluation about the quality and impact of open access youth provision, alongside insights into the development of feasible and meaningful evaluation approaches for this field. It is important to note that the findings presented in this report are emergent and reflect data collected over approximately
22 months of our 24-month data collection period.

Learning and insight paper three: A shared outcomes framework for open access youth provision

This is the third in a series of Learning and Insight papers published as part of the learning project for the Youth Investment Fund (YIF). 

Our insight paper describes the YIF shared outcomes measurement framework and sets out the rationale behind the outcomes framework design. The YIF outcomes framework aims to provide a consistent shared approach to measuring changes in the values, attitudes, knowledge, skills and behaviours that young people develop as a result of participating in YIF provision.

Learning and insight paper two: Background to the YIF economic simulation model

This is the second in a series of Learning and Insight papers published as part of the learning project for the Youth Investment Fund (YIF).  It is aimed at anyone working within, supporting or providing funding and resources for informal and non-formal learning provision for young people in the UK.

Learning and insight paper one: A shared evaluation framework for open access youth provision

The first in a series of Learning and Insight papers published as part of the learning project for the Youth Investment Fund (YIF).

It is aimed at anyone working within, supporting or providing funding and resources for informal and non-formal learning provision for young people in the UK. The Youth Investment Fund only covers England, but we believe that the learning is relevant across the UK.

Resources Developed for the YIF Learning Project

Here you can find general resources that have been produced for and are central to the YIF Learning Project.

Six Characteristic Groupings of YIF Provision

The YIF learning project team worked with YIF grant holders to map types of provision represented in the cohort. From this mapping work, we developed six dimensions that grant holders used to describe their YIF activity.

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Grantee Level Theory of Change

The Grantee theory of change (ToC) was developed as part of the co-design stage of the Youth Investment Fund (YIF) Learning Project in Autumn 2017.

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Funder Level Theory of Change

Through the learning and impact work and the creation of local and national networks, the YIF aimed to support organisations to maintain levels of impact for young people in the long term, after the 3 year funding period ended.

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Sustainability Resources

The National Lottery Community Fund have compiled useful resources to help grant holders become more resilient and sustainable organisations.

Early Warning Guide

A quick and simple financial and governance check from Locality. Designed for use by boards and senior staff of third sector organisations of any size, to help you quickly assess your situation and take action, and avoid any ‘I wish I’d done something sooner’ situations.

Facing Forward: How Small and Medium Sized Charities can Adapt to Survive

This report, commissioned by the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales, aims to provide smaller charities (those with income of £10k – £1m) with information that will help them consider – and take control over – their futures.

Employee Volunteering: A Best Practice Guide

This report, brought to you by Bournemouth and Poole Council and Voluntary Service (CVS) and Hireserve, provides guidance and practical tips for voluntary organisations who want to benefit from a business partnership and support a successful Employee Volunteering Scheme.

Locality Community Cafes

This document provides a brief overview of Community Cafes, including information on gross profit, staffing, VAT and some supporting examples.

Community Cafe Financial Modelling Tool

This model allows you to try out different assumptions for your cafe, and to see what works. It can be used both for existing cafés; for example by entering current performance and looking at what needs to be done to make it viable, or it can be used as part of planning and projections.

Enterprise development

Using trade – the sale of goods and services – to generate profits which will be used to deliver your mission

Social Investment - Access

'Social Investment - What it is and why it might be relevant for you'

A presentation by Neil Berry at the Youth Investment Fund event, 11 July 2019.

Blogs

Read our expert blogs written during the course of the Project.

Cracking the Impact Nut

How the Youth Investment Fund learning and impact strand responds to the challenges of evaluation in open access provision.

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Strength in numbers

Co-development of the Youth Investment Fund’s shared evaluation framework. By Karen Scanlon & Kevin Franks, published on May 2 2019.

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Building the foundations of a data literate youth sector

What we’ve learnt so far.

By Sarah Williams, published on August 8 2019.

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Framing our learning

Reflections on the early findings from the Youth Investment Fund shared evaluation. Published on September 28 2020.

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Finding Common Ground

Identifying shared features of open access youth provision. By Kelly Bradshaw-Walsh, published on November 5 2020. 

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