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Our strategy – how we’ll deliver on our mission

The Youth Endowment Fund is a charity with a mission that matters – we’re here to prevent children and young people becoming involved in violence. We do this by finding out what works and building a movement to put this knowledge into practice.

How we’re working to prevent youth violence

We know that to make a lasting difference we must do more than just fund and evaluate promising programmes to prevent youth crime and violence. We have to make change happen – changing policy and practice – so that children are better supported and violence reduces.

The graphic below illustrates our strategy, showing you what we do to deliver on our mission. You can find a more detailed description below.

Prioritising our focus areas

The first step in our strategy was to select eight focus areas where we’ll prioritise our funding and research. By focusing like this, we believe we’re more likely to deliver change. These represent the areas where we believe there are some of the biggest opportunities to improve support for children and young people who are at risk of becoming involved in youth crime and violence.

Our eight focus areas are:

  1. Diversion
  2. Family support
  3. Focused deterrence
  4. Neighbourhood
  5. Trusted adults
  6. Therapies
  7. Presence in schools
  8. Positive activities

We will fund good work

The second step of our strategy is to fund great research work. To deliver on our mission, all our funding is done to build a better understanding of what works to reduce youth violence. We do this in three ways:

1. Grant rounds

We fund the delivery and evaluation of projects and collaborations across England and Wales, so we can build knowledge about what works to prevent children and young people becoming involved in violence.

One of the ways we do this is through our themed grant rounds. Each round is based on one of our focus areas, and aims to help us learn more about the impact of specific approaches or interventions on preventing youth violence.

Through our place-based grant rounds, we fund partnerships and collaborations working to prevent youth violence in targeted neighbourhoods of England and Wales. These rounds focus on finding the most effective ways local agencies can work together to identify and support children most at risk of becoming involved in violence.

If we identify practices or projects that don’t fit into our themed or place-based grant rounds but are widely used, have potential or are untested, we’ll provide the resources to fund and/or evaluate them, through targeted grants.

2. World leading research

As well as funding new evaluations, we invest in other types of high-quality research about violence, its causes and its consequences – and this includes research on the impact of poverty and discrimination. We also fund reviews that finds all the existing research on a topic and summarises it.

3. Understanding young people’s lives

Children and young people are at the heart of our mission. We fund work to understand their lives, the impact of violence and what works to change this. Two key parts of this work are the Peer Action Collective – the largest peer research project on youth violence in the UK, and our annual Children, violence and vulnerability report, which explores the ways in which violence – and fear of violence – affects children’s lives. We’ve also established a Youth Advisory Board to help shape our decisions and influence how and where we spend our funding.

We will find what works

The third step in our strategy is bringing all of this research together and making it really easy for everyone to understand what works to reduce youth violence. We do this in three ways:

1. Evaluation reports

We publish an independent report for every evaluation that we fund. This tells everyone whether that project was an effective way to reduce youth crime and violence, and helps us understand what projects work, for whom and why.

2. Guidance reports

For each of our eight focus areas, we’ll produce a guidance report that combines a summary of all our research with the voices of young people and practitioners. It’ll include five to ten recommended changes to policy and practice, so that – together- we can reduce violence.

3. YEF Toolkit

The YEF Toolkit summarises the best available research about different approaches to preventing serious youth violence. It gives you the ‘best bets’, telling you how effective each approach is likely to be, how confident you can be in the evidence and provides indicative costings. We’ll continue to update the Toolkit regularly with new approaches and the latest evidence.

We will work for change

The final step in our strategy is to put the evidence of what works to prevent youth violence into action. But we know we can’t do this alone. To improve support for children and young people, we need to change policies and practice. We do this in three ways:

1. Connect people with the evidence

Evidence about what works to prevent youth violence is often hard to find, hard to access and hard to understand. If we want people to use evidence when they’re making decisions about how best to protect and support children and young people, this needs to change. To help, we’ve gone beyond creating easy-to-read summaries of research – we actively work with professional networks to run trainings, events and talks. That way, we can promote what works and connect professionals with best practice from around the country.

2. Create coalitions

In each of our focus areas, we’ll bring together people who are passionate about protecting children from harm – from frontline practitioners and commissioners to academics and policy makers. We’ll work together to examine the evidence and identify what needs to change. And we’ll use our collective experience and influence to push for improvements in the practices, policies and systems which impact how, when and why children are supported.

3. Build support for change

We work closely with government officials and ministers to ensure that they have the best information to make decisions that affect children. We share our work with the media, so that it informs the public debate about how we reduce violence permanently.