Application process

The National Express Foundation is currently reviewing applications for its 2022 funding programme. The deadline for applications is now passed.


The National Express Foundation is a key element of National Express Group’s support for the wider community in which we operate.

The Foundation was created following the public order disturbances in July 2011, which highlighted the issues facing young people living in inner-city areas. The disturbances involved a disproportionate number of people in the 15-24 year age group, with unemployment, boredom and lack of motivation all cited as factors. More than ten years on, these factors are still as relevant now as they were when the Foundation launched, particularly as local authority spending on youth provision has continued to fall. 

The Covid 19 pandemic had a significant impact on the delivery of services which support young people. Delivery was either suspended or moved online which proved challenging to access for some young people. The pandemic had a particularly negative impact on young people with special needs - many of whom rely on face-to-face support.

To help groups build back from the pandemic, the trustees of the Foundation chose to use its 2021 funding round to refocus our support on initiatives which helped young people to ‘make-up’ for time lost due to Covid. Given that our recovery from the pandemic continues, the trustees have decided to continue with the same focus for the 2022 funding round.

They want to help young people gain the qualifications they need, to build the skills that will help them get jobs, and to help them develop constructive social networks outside of education or work. Initiatives which seek to support young people with special needs, will be particularly welcome.

Applications were invited for initiatives which groups will begin to deliver in the first quarter of 2023.

Guidance on making an application

We have to reject many applications each year because applicants have not read and applied these guidance notes and the resulting applications are vague. 

We review hundreds of applications each year, so you need to ensure you clearly set out what you would like to do with Foundation support. You must not assume that we know what your organisation does, so please make sure you write a clear, succinct executive summary and you answer all the questions on the application form fully.

Who can apply?

Our funding programme in 2022 was open to local community groups delivering services within the areas covered by the West Midlands Combined Authority constituent members*, plus outlying districts served by National Express scheduled local bus services and National Express Accessible Transport services.

Our definition of local community group includes any West Midlands based charity, constituted community organisation or not-for-profit community interest company.

*For clarity, the seven West Midlands Combined Authority constituent members are Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

What sorts of projects are successful?

Applications which:

  • Focus on young people aged between 15 and 24
  • Meet the requirement to support young people as they continue to build out of the pandemic
  • Involve or benefit a large number of young people – a minimum of ten 
  • Deliver a sustained programme of activity over a number of months
  • Ensure that anyone employed on the projects is paid a minimum of the prevailing Real Living Wage rate.
  • Have specific key milestones or dates that allow the Foundation to get involved with the project
  • Show how you will seek to minimise your impact on the environment.
  • Provide a clear plan on how they will use social media to promote the project
  • Are unique to National Express Foundation and we are the sole funding source for the activity
  • Provide a clear budget breakdown
  • Set out a plan for measuring the impact of the activity

You can read about the types of projects we have supported on the previous winners pages in this section of the website.

What sorts of projects are likely to be rejected?

Applications which:

  • Involve one-off activities – one day/weekend/week, and therefore lack key milestones for the project 
  • Don’t set out specific details of what you aim to do with participants 
  • Only benefit a small number of young people – less than ten
  • Are seeking part-funding towards a larger project; eg where there are multiple funders.
  • Do not provide clear budget information - a breakdown of what will be spent
  • Seek sponsorship for an event
  • Offer little opportunity for stakeholder or Foundation engagement
  • Projects that are unsustainable
  • Do not provide evaluation or measurement for impact of the activity

How much can we apply for?

Community groups had the chance to apply for specific sums of money, saying what they could deliver for either £2,500, £5,000 or £10,000. 

Please note: For 2022, the Foundation has a total pot of £95,000 to distribute.  As the trustees wish to support the maximum number of groups it is likely that there will be less awards of £10,000 this year.  Applications for £5,000 or £2,500 have a better chance of success. In exceptional circumstances, awards of £10,000 may be made.

Our commitment to support the real Living Wage

National Express is an accredited Living Wage Foundation employer in the UK. In support of this, the National Express Foundation wishes to encourage the payment of the Living Wage by organisations we support.

We are asking the organisations to consider paying the Living Wage Foundation rate. If you are applying for Foundation funding that will contribute to staff costs, we would encourage you to pay any salaries or wages that our funding will support at the Living Wage Foundation rate or above. However, we appreciate there may be specific circumstances which make this difficult. For 2022, the real Living Wage is currently set at £9.90 per hour outside of London. You should confirm the hourly rate you intend to pay in your application.

Application process

We follow a two-step process to consider applications. The first stage of the application process is now closed.

Applications received are being assessed by our team and if they meets the strategic aims and values of the National Express Foundation, applicants will be invited to complete the second stage application form which will ask them to include the following information:

  • Background to the organisation, membership and funding 
  • Evidence of constitution and independent bank account
  • Explanation of how the proposed project would benefit the community
  • Statement as to how the project will reflect the diversity of the community that you are working in
  • Timescale and process for delivering the project - we prefer projects to have key milestones throughout
  • Plans for using social media to publicise our support and the activity being delivered, and engagement with stakeholders
  • Proposal for how the Foundation could be engaged with the project 
  • Plans to evaluate and quantify the benefits – an example of the type of evaluation report we would like to receive is available to view on our website
  • Evidence of a commitment to safeguarding within your organisation


The National Express Foundation is committed to safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults and therefore request that all second stage applications include a copy of your organisational safeguarding policy. For guidance on writing a safeguarding policy, please follow this NSPCC link.


Applicants should indicate the size of grant that they are applying for: £2,500, £5,000, or £10,000; and explain what they would deliver for the level of grant applied for. 

While we do not propose to set restrictions on how the funding would be applied, we will be seeking evidence of innovation in how the projects will be delivered. 

Remember that our trustees may not know anything about your organisation. You should set out clearly in your application form what you intend to do and how a Foundation grant will support that.

We need to understand the detail of what activities you intend to deliver with the funding.

Saying: “”We will run a youth club and will engage with young people” - is not enough. You need to be clear on timescales and the nature of the activities you are delivering.  A clearer application would say:  “We will run a weekly youth club from 6.30-8.30pm every Wednesday at [venue]. Each session will offer pool, table tennis, video games - with weekly discussion group on different topics: bullying, inclusion, substance abuse, employment skills”  If you are successful at the first stage you can provide more detail at the second stage.


You will be required to provide an end of project report explaining how the grant bursary has been used during the year. 

You will also need to evidence the delivery of your social media and stakeholder engagement plan that you set out in your application.

Submitting your application

The deadline for submitting applications for the 2022 programme has now passed. 

If you are invited to complete a second stage form, you will be able to include any supporting information you feel is relevant as PDFs.


Friday 16 September 2022 First stage application deadline - NOW CLOSED
Friday 30 September 2022 Successful applicants invited to complete second stage application form
Friday 14 October 2022 Second stage application deadline
Early November 2022 Trustees meet to discuss applications
Mid November 2022 Awards announced