The British Science Festival 2023 Community Grants Programme is currently closed for applications. Call outs for applicants to The British Science Festival 2024 Community Grants Programme will go live in Spring of 2024.

The British Science Association (BSA) want to support, grow and diversify the community of people who are interested and involved in science.

About The British Science Festival Community Grants Programme 2023

We are providing grants of up to £600 to community groups/organisations in and around Exeter that work directly with audiences who are traditionally underrepresented and currently not engaged in science activity. We want to empower and support community groups to run their own science activities as part of the British Science Festival, enabling new local audiences to engage with science.  

This year we will be partnering with Exeter Science Centre to provide support to applicants as they prepare their applications. They will also help in selecting the successful applicants and support successful grant awardees in developing and delivering their projects.

Exeter Science Centre is an education charity, based in Exeter, working to better connect people with the incredible science research and industry in the region, particularly around global issues. They are working to create a hands-on science centre in Exeter and are working with local communities in the city and region to help mould the development of the organisation and the building. 

Eight people in a community group smiling and waving. They are standing around a wooden table in a white tent. Their are baking ingredients on the table. The person in the front right holds a bowl and stirs ingredients.

Background to the grants programme

Each year, the BSA provides grants of £500 – £600 to community groups/organisations in the host festival city that work directly with audiences who are traditionally underrepresented and currently not engaged in science activity.  

We want to empower and support community groups to run their own science activities as part of the British Science Festival, enabling new local audiences to engage with science. 

If you have any questions or concerns about this year's grants scheme, please get in touch with our partner organisation Exeter Science Centre, at [email protected]

For any other general enquiries you can reach us on [email protected].

If you are part of a community group or organisation, you might also be interested in joining our Community Engagement Network. Find out more here. 

2023 Grant Guidelines 

The British Science Festival, coordinated by the British Science Association (BSA), is Europe's longest-standing national event which connects people with scientists, engineers, technologists and social scientists. Thousands of people come together to celebrate the latest developments in science and to engage in open discussion about issues that affect our culture and society. This year the Festival will be in Exeter from 7-10 September, hosted by the University of Exeter. 

What are the criteria? 

To be eligible for a grant, you must represent or have connections to a community-based group or organisation that works directly with audiences who are traditionally underrepresented and currently not engaged in science activity. For this scheme, groups that are underrepresented in science include: 

  • People from minoritised ethnic backgrounds  
  • People in faith/religious communities  
  • People living in communities which face deprivation  
  • LGBTQI+ people  
  • People with disabilities  
  • Women (if the project is linked to physics or IT in particular)   
  • People uninterested in science  
  • People who are interested in science but do not engage 

We are particularly interested in applications from groups or organisations that also focus on: 

  • mental health and wellbeing  
  • providing food services to their community 
  • people facing homelessness or who are marginalised from their community  
  • community building and placemaking 
  • connecting with or improving green spaces 

We will prioritise events targeting adults (ages 16+), in line with the target audience of the British Science Festival. 

We are keen to support events that demonstrate how science is a wider part of culture. We will also prioritise events that are embedded in the local community and ones that will have legacy, providing a way for those involved to continue their engagement with science. 

We are looking for events taking place within 5 miles of Exeter city centre. Please contact Exeter Science Centre to check your eligibility before applying.  

What type of event/activity could you run? 

This grant scheme aims to recognise the expertise of community leaders in working with their local audiences. We are therefore keen to hear what activities you think would work best for engaging your audiences with science.  

If you’re stuck for inspiration, you can read case studies from British Science Week Community Grant recipients. In addition, here are a few examples of previously funded events to demonstrate the range of activities that we support: 

  • a table tennis club used table tennis to engage disadvantaged young people with maths 
  • a community allotment space ran observation and survey sessions, helping local residents understand what lives in and around their ponds 
  • a community organisation ran scientist-led seminars for local refugees and asylum-seekers 
  • a community arts organisation invited participants to make their own shampoo from recycled materials, flowers and plants from around local estates. 

What can the grant money be spent on? 

Grant money can be used for the following: 

  • Materials and equipment 
  • Refreshments and room hire 
  • Publicity 
  • AV hire 
  • Reasonable volunteer expenses 
  • Speakers, trainers and freelancers 
  • Project specific staff costs – salaries or fees for people who are essential to the project and whose salaries aren’t already covered by another grant 
  • Transport or other costs associated with planning, promoting and delivering your activities.  

However, the majority of the grant cannot be spent on refreshments or project specific staff costs. 

Grant money cannot be spent on: 

  • Large competition prizes 
  • Large non-consumable equipment (e.g., purchasing microscopes or computers) 
  • On-going staff costs 
  • Costs that are already covered by other funding 
  • General running costs and overheads that are paid for by other income. 

What will we ask for in your application? 

You will be asked to provide the following information in your application: 

  • your organisation’s address and postcode; 
  • a brief description of your organisation, including the audiences/users you work with (200 words maximum); 
  • your event date and location; 
  • a general description of the event (300 words maximum); 
  • a description of your event objectives, including how your event will meet your audience’s needs and how you will ensure their engagement (300 words maximum); 
  • If this event connects with any other longer term projects or goals (300 words maximum); 
  • If there are any potential conflicts of interest, for example if you are already contributing to the British Science Festival or are connected with the University of Exeter or Exeter Science Centre (100 words maximum); 
  • a rough budget outline (ideally in bullet points) of costs associated with the event and how the grant money will be used (200 words maximum); 
  • whether your organisation has a bank account (if you do not have an account please get in touch as we can still support you);  
  • Your organisation’s bank details (if your organisation has a bank account), including account name, number and sort code.  

Deadlines and payments 

The deadline for applications is Wednesday 5 July, 11.59pm.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by email in early-mid July. If successful, applicants may be asked to confirm their bank details as part of our ongoing due diligence checks. If you receive an email requesting confirmation, you must respond and confirm your bank details within 5 working days. Grant payments will then be paid directly into the nominated bank account in late July. 

If you do not have a community bank account, we encourage you to set up an account with The Social Change Nest CIC here. They have developed a safe, hassle-free way for foundations, organisations and philanthropists to fund grassroots groups and we can pay fees to successful grant applicants through this CIC. Any fees incurred from setting up an account will be reimbursed within the grant, in addition to the size of the grant you request. It is the responsibility of the grant holder to set up an account with The Social Nest CIC, Exeter Science Centre and the British Science Festival are unable to support with this at this time. 

Financial information is stored on a secure cloud-based service and will only be used to pay successful grant applicants. Unused details will be deleted. Providing your account details at this stage allows us to pay successful grant applicants immediately, making it easier to organise events. 

How to apply 

All applications must be made online via a short application form. 

When completing the application form, please ensure that your email address and telephone number are correct. As we will communicate with you primarily by email, please ensure you give an email address that is checked regularly by the person who applies for the grant. 

We encourage applicants to contact Exeter Science Centre if you have any questions regarding the application procedure or are looking for support in developing your event idea. Please email [email protected]. 

Below are descriptions of the 2021 BSF Community grant recipients

  • City of Chelmsford Mencap supports families, carers and people with learning disabilities through education, social opportunities and specialist advice. Working with Anglia Ruskin University researcher, Olivia Norfolk, the Mencap students learned about biodiversity and sustainable gardening, including how to support their local pollinators. They surveyed the pollinators who visited their garden allotment and challenged themselves to improve their pollinator counts by the British Science Festival 2021.
  • Ace Music Therapy CIC is a social enterprise based in Chelmsford that provides music therapy and community music services to people of all ages and abilities. For their community grant, Ace Music Therapy provided a special class for local people who are experiencing chronic health conditions. This session, called ‘Rhythmic Breath’, explored the science behind how breath work and music can help people with the psychological and physical effects of their conditions—with a chance to learn these techniques and practice in a supportive space.
  • Essex Multicultural Activity Network (EMAN) supports and empowers Black and Minority communities in Essex through developing skills and providing opportunities to overcome social isolation, with a special focus on South Asian communities. EMAN ran a one-day textile workshop during the British Science Festival that brought together one of their local women’s groups to explore the materials and maths involved in textile making. While developing their textile projects, they will dove into the physical qualities and sustainability of their fabrics, as well as the maths behind their pattern-work.
  • The Ideas Hub Chelmsford aims to support the wellbeing of Chelmsford residents through mental health, fulfillment and belonging. One of their projects is ‘supported volunteering’, supporting people with a range of challenges—such as mental health conditions, alcohol and drug recovery, and time on probation—to participate in local volunteer opportunities. For this event, supported volunteers and their families walked through a local Chelmsford park to learn how to identify nature, including flowers, trees, berries and birds. 
  • Essex Steam Factory runs science, technology, education, arts and math activities with local Essex and Chelmsford community groups. For the British Science Festival, they will ran a series of three workshops with their established community connections to show how creative science can be, creating animations with coding in Scratch, music with Sonic Pi, and an interactive gesture-based musical instrument with a Microbit glove.
  • Chelmsford Arts and Cultural Festival worked with a group of 15 young people facing socioeconomic difficulties to learn new skills using digital platforms and technologies. First established to bring more arts and culture to the people of Chelmsford, the Cultural Festival will work with these young people to explore how to digitalise art, expanding their digital and creative skills.
  • Hamptons Sports and Leisure is a community centre that has served the people of Chelmsford for decades. For the British Science Festival, they held a special science fair to demonstrate science experiments and give their young adults, including those from Black and Asian communities and those facing socioeconomic difficulties, an opportunity to get hands-on with science after a year of social restrictions. This science fair included testing food for protein, sugars and lipids, testing the pH levels of different substances, and even looking at cheek cells under a microscope.
  • Chelmsford LGBTQ+ is a community-grown network that supports the LGBTQ+ residents of Chelmsford to gather and share experiences. For the British Science Festival, the group hosted three highly requested talks and workshops on gender and gender expression, historical gay figures in the arts and sciences and the biology of being intersex.   

Below are descriptions of the 2019 BSF Community grant recipients

  • ILEAP is a charity that runs inclusive activities for children, young people and adults with mild to moderate learning disabilities. They will be holding sessions at a garden space in The Kenilworth Centre to promote understanding around the biology of plants and nature.
  • Ayriss Recovery Coventry is a drug and alcohol outreach/support service that offers support to people experiencing addiction problems. They will be running a session to educate the service users on topics such as the differences that depressants and stimulants have on the body, better vein care and what happens to the body during an overdose.
  • West Indian Heritage Community Action works to support the needs of members of the African-Caribbean community in Coventry, running a range of cultural, social and community-based activities. For the Festival, the group will be working with a mathematician from the community who will run sessions to engage young people with the exciting world of numbers.
  • The Smallpeice Trust supports and inspires young people with STEM. They will be working with the home-education community, running a STEM enrichment day to ensure that children who are home educated can still access science. The day will include a hands-on design and build challenge.
  • Vanny Radio is a community radio station that is run almost entirely by volunteers and caters to the needs and interests of the local community. They will be running a seminar discussing the importance of science in our everyday lives and some of the issues around how science is presented by the media.
  • Coventry Men's Shed provides a place for men to socialise and engage with others in a space where they feel supported. Many of the group experience mental health problems, social isolation and are in recovery from substance abuse. The group will be running four cooking sessions, exploring different elements and learning more about healthy eating and cooking.
  • BLAST Fest is a festival that will be running ‘Caribbean Climate Change’, a series of talks by researchers and local Caribbean people about the impact of climate change. The event is being designed with the local Caribbean community.
  • Food Union uses food to bring communities together, to find healthier ways of producing and eating food, but also to think about and enact, community and civic identity. They will be running an event called ‘How does your garden grow’ at an allotment where participants will learn more about getting involved with the space.

2018 recipients in Hull & the Humber

Read more
  • Community Forward is a not-for-profit organisation that helps hard-to-reach communities with basic catering skills and educational and recreational activities. They held drop-in photography sessions that used creativity to engage young people in science and technology.
  • St Stephen's Neighbourhood Centre offers a wide range of activities and events for the local community. They ran sessions looking at the science behind flight with their regular weekly groups, including those with disabilities, the elderly, and young people.
  • Toranj Tuition is a not-for-profit community organisation that stimulates social mobility and facilitates equal opportunities by providing free educational activities to people from low-income families. They ran scientist-led seminars for refugees and asylum-seekers in Hull, looking at the challenges and opportunities in the science sector for these groups.
  • Seeds of Change, a group run by the student’s union at Wilberforce Sixth Form, ran an event promoting healthy lifestyle choices to the students of the college.
  • Best Hope is an organisation that actively promotes social cohesion, community integration and access to services for disadvantaged people. They ran a two-day project for the young people they are working with to learn more about food science and nutrition.  

2017 recipients in Brighton & Hove

Read more
  • Brighton Table Tennis Club used table tennis to engage local disadvantaged young people with maths. The group showcased PingMaths, an innovative approach to numeracy skills, which they use to support refugees and asylum seekers as well as other disadvantaged young people.
  • Plot 22 is a community allotment space that works with local groups, including a dementia gardening group and local migrant groups. They ran observation and survey sessions to help participants understand what lives in and around their ponds and why.
  • Stay Up Late is a charity promoting the rights of people with learning disabilities. Their user-led advisory group, “The Storm and Thunder Team”, participated in a technology workshop run by a local non-profit arts organisation in which they used electronics to explore sound creation.
  • The Whitehawk Inn is a community centre based in a disadvantaged area of Brighton. They held sessions to promote science-based careers as realistic and viable choices; activities included talks, workshops and 1:1 advice and guidance sessions.
  • Craggers Brighton and Hove Unemployed Climbers Group provides activities to boost the confidence of those who experience social exclusion. Their volunteers ran a day of natural history activities in Friston Forest.
  • Tarner Community Project is a neighbourhood charity supporting those experiencing high levels of deprivation in the Tarner area of Brighton. They held an evening of hands-on science activities for their NEET group.
  • One Church Brighton works almost exclusively with NEETs. Their barista training project ran an event using sensory science and lab testing protocols to explore how coffee is brewed and how people experience drinking it.
  • Kennedy St & Co. supports those recovering from addiction. Their community connections group invited those who were interested or already engaging in a recovery process to attend a workshop on the science behind mindfulness.
  • House of Cultural Curiosity is an arts organisation that brings communities together to express aspects of their culture. They invited participants to make their own shampoo from recycled materials, locally sourcing herbs, flowers and plants in and around local estates, and leftover beer from the local community pub.

For more information about the work the British Science Association does to support and engage with community groups, please visit our Community Engagement page and follow BSA Communities on Twitter.

Terms and conditions of the grant

1. By applying for the grant with the British Science Association, the organisation named in the application (referred to as ‘you’ in these Terms and Conditions) agrees, if awarded a grant, to the following conditions:

1.1. Your event must fall within the British Science Festival (7-10 September 2023). If for whatever reason you are not able to run an event within the British Science Festival, the grant money will have to be returned to the British Science Association. For these reasons, please ensure you have contingency plans in case of illness or unforeseen circumstances.

1.2. If the provided bank account details, including account name, account number and sort code, are incorrect, your grant payment will be significantly delayed, or your grant offer may be withdrawn.

1.3. You must complete an organiser feedback survey (provided by the British Science Association) after the British Science Festival.

1.4. You must distribute a short feedback form (provided by the British Science Association) to your event participants and return completed forms to British Science Association head office after the event.

1.5. If the feedback forms are not completed or if your event differs greatly to the event specified in your application, the British Science Association reserves the right to ask for the funding to be returned.

1.6. The British Science Festival logo (provided by the British Science Association) must be used on any marketing materials produced, either in print or online.

1.7. You must act lawfully in carrying out your project, in accordance with best practice and guidance from your regulators, and follow any guidelines issued by us about the project or use of the grant.

1.8. You must immediately return any part of the grant that is not used for your project or constitutes unlawful state aid.

1.9. Where your project involves working with children, young people or vulnerable adults, adopt and implement an appropriate written safeguarding policy, obtain written consent from legal carers or guardians and carry out background checks for all employees, volunteers, trustees or contractors as required by law.

1.10. You must comply with data protection laws and obtain the consent of your beneficiaries for us and you to receive and process their personal information and contact them.

1.11. You must keep accurate and comprehensive records about your project both during the project and for seven years afterwards and provide us on request with copies of those records and evidence of expenditure of the grant, such as original receipts and bank statements.

1.12. The British Science Association may publicise and share information about you and your project including your name and images of project activities. You hereby grant us a royalty free licence to reproduce and publish any project information you give us. You will let us know when you provide the information if you don’t have permission for us to use it in this way.

2. You acknowledge that we are entitled to suspend or terminate the grant and/or require you to repay all or any of the grant in any of the following situations. You must let us know if any of these situations have occurred or are likely to occur:

2.1. You use the grant in any way other than as approved by us or fail to comply with any of these Terms and Conditions.

2.2. You fail to make good progress with your project or are unlikely in our view to complete the project or achieve the objectives agreed with us.

2.3. You fail to comply with the BSA’s evaluation processes.

2.4. You have match funding for the project withdrawn or receive duplicate funding for the same project costs as funded by the grant.

2.5. You provide us with false or misleading information either on application or after award of the grant, act dishonestly or are under investigation by us, a regulatory body or the police, or if we consider for any other reason that public funds are at risk or you do anything to bring the British Science Association or UK Research and Innovation into disrepute.

2.6. You enter into, or in our view are likely to enter into, administration, liquidation, receivership or dissolution.

3. You acknowledge that:

3.1. the grant is for your use only and we may require you to pay us a share of any proceeds from disposal of assets purchased or enhanced with the grant;

3.2. we will not increase the grant if you spend more than the agreed budget;

3.3. the grant is not consideration for any taxable supply for VAT purposes;

3.4. we have no liability for any costs or consequences incurred by you or third parties that arise directly or indirectly from the project, nor from non‑payment or withdrawal of the grant, save to the extent required by law;

3.5. the British Science Association will not be held responsible or liable for any consequences, whether direct or indirect to any loss or damage, personal or otherwise, injury or death however arising in grant-funded events and activities. Grant recipients are responsible for taking out any public liability or other insurance necessary to cover the activities;

3.6. these Terms and Conditions will continue to apply for one year after the grant is paid or until the project has been completed, whichever is later. Clauses 1.6, 1.8, 1.11, 1.12, 3.5 and 3.6 shall survive expiry of these Terms and Conditions; and

3.7. if the application and grant award are made electronically, the agreement between us shall be deemed to be in writing and your online acceptance of these Terms and Conditions shall be deemed to be a signature of that agreement.