Funding for grassroots sport: ERASMUS+ Sport rebooted for 2016

Leigh Thompson, Policy Adviser, blogs about the 2016 funding opportunities for sport as part of the ERASMUS+ programme.

Regular readers will recall I discussed the funding opportunities available under the EU programme ERASMUS+ Sport in a blog back in March. To recap, the ERASMUS+ Sport programme is a specific EU funding stream designed to support cross-border European projects aimed at, among other things, tackling threats to the integrity of sport, supporting good governance and promoting participation in sport and its associated health and social benefits.

2016 Call for Proposals

Last week the 2016 ERASMUS+ Call for Proposals was announced which sets out the 2016 deadlines for project bids under the various available ERASMUS+ funding streams, principally Education and Training, Youth and Sport.

An important change to ERASMUS+ Sport for 2016 is the introduction of a limited amount of funding for a new class of ‘Small Collaborative Partnership’ projects. The inclusion of specific funding for these smaller projects is a welcome step and reflects work undertaken by the Alliance, in collaboration with our European Partners EOC and ENGSO, over the past year to try to make the funding available through the ERASMUS+ Sport scheme more accessible to genuine grassroots sports organisations.

How much money is available?

For the 2016 call, ERASMUS+ Sport has been allocated a total of €27.4 million. Of this total, around EUR €3.4 million is allocated to Small Collaborative Partnerships and each individual project can access a grant up to a maximum of €60,000. In the context of grassroots sport these sums are much more appropriate to the size of organisation the funding is intended to reach.

How many overseas partners are required?

An important aspect of the new Small Collaborative Partnerships is that only three partners from different countries are required to put together a project bid. Alongside the reduction in funding thresholds this is a very welcome development as, under the previous rules, a minimum of five partners from different countries was required in order to bid. This made it virtually impossible for small grassroots sports organisations to bid as they tend not to have access to large cross-border networks of potential partners.

What are the aims of Small Collaborative Partnerships?

Small Collaborative Partnerships should meet one or more of the following objectives:

• Encourage social inclusion and equal opportunities in sport;
• Promote traditional European sports and games;
• Support the mobility of volunteers, coaches, managers and staff of non-profit sport organisations and;
• Protect athletes, especially the youngest, from health and safety hazards by improving training and competition conditions.

Overall Small Collaborative Partnerships should promote the creation and development of lasting transnational networks in the field of sport. This reflects the collaborative, cross-border design behind ERASMUS+ funding arrangements. In addition, Small Collaborative Partnerships should foster links between local, regional, national and international policies to promote sport and physical activity.

What activities are supported?

Providing they are relevant to meeting the project objectives, funding for Small Collaborative Partnership projects will support a broad range of activities including:

• Networking among stakeholders;
• Promotion, identification and sharing of good practice;
• Preparation, development and implementation of educational and training modules and tools;
• Raising awareness of the contribution sport and physical activity can make to personal, social and professional development;
• Activities to promote links between sport and health, education, training and young people;
• Activities to improve the evidence-base of sport as a means of tackling societal and economic challenges (for example the collection of data, surveys, consultations, etc.) and;
• Conferences, seminars, meetings, events and awareness-raising actions to support the above activities.

Who can apply?

Small Collaborative Partnerships are open to public institutions or non-profit organisations active in the field of sport and physical activity and should be comprised of:

• A lead applicant/coordinator – this is the organisation that submits the project proposal on behalf of project partners. If the project is successful, the applicant/coordinator will become the main grant beneficiary and will sign a beneficiary grant agreement.
• At least two additional partner organisations – these organisations must be from eligible countries and contribute to the preparation, implementation and evaluation of the project.

For the purposes of the above, eligible organisations may include, among others, organisations such as:

• A public body in charge of sport at local, regional or national level;
• A sport organisation at local, regional or national, level;
• A sports club;
• An organisation or union representing athletes;
• An organisation or unions representing professionals and volunteers in sport;
• An organisation active in the field of physical activity promotion.

Deadlines and more information

For more information on the project criteria and eligibility rules please see the ERASMUS+ Programme Guide. The deadline for project bids under the Small Collaborative Partnerships is 12 May 2016 at 12.00 (Brussels time).

This new form of project is a great opportunity for smaller grassroots organisations to access European funding and we’d encourage all our members and their clubs to start thinking now about project ideas and potential partners.