Meet the funder: Foyle Foundation

school library

Image: Talia Osborne

Grants Manager, Nicola Phillips explains why The Foyle Foundation is eager to help improve literacy levels by supporting the development of school libraries.

The Foyle Foundation is an independent grant-making trust that has given more than £63.2m in grants since 2001. Most school funding is provided through our Schools Library Programme, with grants ranging from £3,000 to £10,000. Encouraging children to read widely from an early age will provide a major boost to improving literacy levels, which is a current key educational objective.

When was the Foyle Foundation set up?

The Foundation was formed in 2001 to implement the will of the late Christina Foyle, daughter of bookshop founder William Foyle.

Why do you support schools?

The majority of funding for schools is awarded via the Foyle School Library Programme, with priority given to primary schools. This programme recognises that there is no statutory requirement for schools to have a library and that many school libraries are in a desperate situation. The funding from the Foundation enables schools to create or improve a library, helping raise literacy levels and encourage reading.

What types of project do you particularly welcome?

The Foundation takes a number of factors into account, including local deprivation levels and current literacy levels. The library enhancements should support the work of the school to promote a culture of reading. Schools should also demonstrate an ongoing commitment to maintain the library. We fund very few school projects outside the Schools Library Programme. Applications will be strengthened if the PTA/Friends group can support the project. Speak to the grants team before applying.

Can you share an example project you have recently funded?

Between 2009 and 2015, the Foundation awarded 619 grants under the Foyle Schools Library Programme, totalling £3.64m. In 2015 The Foyle Foundation awarded £5,000 to Tregolls School in Cornwall (202 pupils) to improve the library. Tregolls School has a high number of pupils with Special Educational Needs and children from low-income households. The library area lacked appeal and the book stock was outdated. The school has since overhauled the library and involved pupils in choosing new fiction books.

To check your school's eligibility and to find out how to apply for funding through the Foyle Schools Library Programme, go to foylefoundation.org.uk.