Welcome to Powering Up

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Congratulations! We are excited to be partnering with you to help develop your community business further. We will work alongside you to ensure you access the support and people you need to make the change you want. Together, we can Power Up your community business. 

About Power to Change

We are the independent trust that strengthens communities through community business. We use our experience to bring partners together to fund, grow and back community business to make places thrive. We are curious and rigorous; we do, test and learn. And we are here to support community business, whatever the challenge.

Our vision: Powerful communities, better places  

By 2025, we want more communities in England to run businesses that give them power to change what really matters to them. We want people to be able to create more resilient places. Places that are better to live in. Places that work for everyone.

Find out more about the change we want to make.

Our mission: Strengthen the community business sector 

We tackle some of society’s biggest challenges at a local level. We focus particularly on the three biggest challenges of our time:  

  • Climate change 
  • Digital transformation 
  • Social inequalities  

About Powering Up

Powering Up offers capacity strengthening support over a 12-month period. The programme supports community businesses in England that need resources and help investing in their future. We support community business leaders addressing social and economic disadvantage within their local communities. We also support leaders that are improving equity within their organisations. 

For the first two rounds, the tailored support package for community businesses was worth up to £20,000 in total, and included:

  • Paid access to support providers (up to £9,000) who are brokered in to meet the specific needs of your community businesses over a 12-month period
  • Professional development and wellbeing support (up to £3,000) such as leadership coaching, peer mentor, and mental health support. This support can be drawn down over the 12-months
  • A £8,000 flexible grant to support you as a community business leader, and your team, to engage in the required support of the programme. This could be to cover your time, back fill a post, purchase essential equipment, or cover other expenditure that enables growth of your community business.


Our ambition is to partner with you as a community business leader as well as your teams. The programme is designed to support you as you develop and grow your organisation.  

Areas of focus 

Powering Up currently supports community businesses in two key areas: 

  • Digital growth 
  • Climate and sustainability impact

We will also work with you to address issues your community business faces with equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

How we work with you to achieve equity 

Our approach is based on ’equity’ and not ‘equality’. This means that we recognise different groups face different barriers to success, sustainability and participation in our programme.   

An approach based on equity means we recognise “giving everyone the same thing” does not produce equitable results for our community businesses; rather we will look at what barriers, strengths and opportunities your community business faces and work with you to put into place the support you need to reach your goals and ambitions.

We will assist you and your community business to access the resources and support needed to address barriers you may face and strengthen the assets you have. 

Why do you not use the term equality? 

Equality aims to ensure everyone receives the same support, or that there is no discrimination or disadvantage in the support offered. We recognise however that one size does not fit all and that different groups in England require different support to achieve their outcomes.

For example, in the UK everyone enjoys the equal right to education and has access to government-funded primary and secondary education, this is equality in education access. However, children who speak English as a second language, or who have a learning disability can have substantially worse educational outcomes in the UK educational system. Improved outcomes for these children are achieved by understanding their individual learning needs and tailoring an educational package that meets these needs, this is an equitable approach.  

So, instead of ‘equality’ we use the term ‘equity’, which is a better description of the way we work to address unequal social and economic outcomes in our communities.

The programme offer

You have succeeded in your application to the second round of the Powering Up programme. This round has a focus on community businesses seeking digital transformation and climate and sustainability support.

Our offer to you

We provide a tailored support package to help you:

  • Create space to identify business needs and draft plans to address them
  • Access to specialist skills and support your business may need
  • Increase your knowledge and capabilities in climate and sustainability impact, digital and business transformation
  • Support to develop and implement practices that support robust wellbeing practices
  • Build peer relationships to boost recovery across the sector (By peer relationships we mean working with others who run community businesses and face the same issues and problems as your own community business)
  • Address issues of social and economic exclusion faced by marginalised and minoritised communities in England
  • Access to flexible funds to bolster your capacity and resources during this programme.

What to expect

Phase 1: Space to explore

  • 3 to 4 months
  • Community business review
  • Assessment of needs
  • Building trust
  • Supported to develop rituals for creating space
  • Start to access coaching/mentoring or mental wellbeing support

Phase 2: Discover

  • Up to 6 months
  • Community business partners will start spending their grants
  • Continue to discover what you need to put in place
  • Start to procure specialists to support the delivery of the climate and sustainability work or your digital transformation project
  • Cement rituals

Phase 3: Embedding new practice

  • Up to 12 months
  • Make iterative improvements/amendments
  • Impact and insight measurement
  • Cement rituals
  • Reporting

Who will you work with?

Community Business Connectors 

A dedicated Community Business Connector will work with you for the entire 12-month period. They will guide and support whilst you move through the programme and the different sections of support on offer. There are five Community Business Connectors supporting the Powering Up programme. Each connector brings significant experience working with and in the community business sector. Find out more about the team here. 

Their role is to help you access the right support throughout the 12-month programme. First, they will meet with you to understand the needs of you and your community business. Through ongoing conversations that will help identify your business priorities, they will then tailor a support package which meets each of your needs. Community Business Connectors will also be available to help you with problems and issues as they arise over the twelve months of support we offer.


Specialists can provide support in relation to your specific needs and your Community Business Connector will help you to find the right specialist to work with. Depending on the programme that you applied for you will work with our leads, to focus on digital transformation or climate action and sustainability.

Climate and sustainability leads

The Climate and Sustainability Leads have a broad range of expertise across all areas of environmental sustainability. As a team they will be working alongside the Community Business Connectors to help you understand the climate and sustainability impacts of your organisation and define and prioritise your support needs. Climate and Sustainability Leads may also work directly with you to advise what support might be most appropriate and help create your briefs to access that support. See more about the climate and sustainability leads.

As the programme develops, we may expand our range of support partners. Your Community Business Connector will keep you informed of any changes to the support providers.

Digital leads

The Digital Leads are experts in the information, communication and technology sector that will support the Community Business Connectors to understand and define the digital and technology needs of the community businesses they support. Digital Leads might join a call or workshop when the Connector feels this would be beneficial to the aim of the conversation/learning. See more about the digital leads.

Support providers

The Powering Up programme is led by Power to Change with the support of partner organisations. We have a wide range of providers, covering climate, digital, business, marketing, finance, coaching and wellbeing support and much more. You can see a list of the current providers here.

If you currently have a good working relationship with a provider, we encourage you to get them to join the framework. Your Community Business Connector can discuss all the available options with you once you have completed your community business review.

Specialist support – how does it work?

On offer is a mix of technical and non-technical support. It includes: 

  • Paid access to support providers. This is your development programme. We at Power to Change want you to get the best support possible to enable you and your community business to thrive. That is why we pair you with a Community Business Connector to understand your needs and find the right support provider to help you.  
  • Professional development and wellbeing support. We provide professional development coaches to help you develop your personal and business growth strategies. We also partner with peer mentors who understand the pressures and issues facing community businesses. Their expertise is rooted in having all faced similar issues in their own community business.  
  • An £8,000 flexible grant. The purpose of this grant is to help financially support you to be able to engage in the Powering Up programme. This grant can be used to cover your time, back fill a post, purchase essential equipment, or cover other expenditure that enables growth of your community business.

Specialist climate and sustainability support

Specialist climate and sustainability support will be provided by a team of experts in the environmental field who are experienced in working with community centred organisations and wider communities. They will be able to contribute to building knowledge, skills and capacity in your organisation and through peer learning.

The climate and sustainability impact you wish to address may be primarily internal (the sustainability of your own operations), external (helping your community consider their sustainability) or a combination of both. Equally they may focus on reducing your impacts (mitigation), preparing for the changing climate, ecological and social conditions climate change will bring (adaption) or a combination of both. The support will help you to reflect on your area of focus and develop a plan to ensure your organisation is set up to deliver long term ongoing change.

You know your organisation and community’s needs better than anyone, so the focus of your support will be tailored to each community business and may change over the course of the programme. However, the following stages may be helpful to ensure that emerging climate action is robust and holistic in its approach and delivery.


The first stage is to help us and you to understand your key climate and sustainability impacts.

It will involve gathering information to:

  • Gain an understanding of the areas of your business that have a significant environmental impact, or how you may be affected by a changing climate: this may be energy use, waste, travel, food, supplier contracts, building and organisation resilience etc
  • Understand the potential areas where you may be able to have a wider climate and sustainability impact in your community: providing advice and information, training, developing skills etc
  • Understand your previous environmental actions and existing knowledge skills and capacity
  • Help you to develop a plan and prioritise actions.


What are the underlying conditions to ensure the success of this work?

Organisation capacity:

  • Training for your team in climate and sustainability issues
  • Training in communicating these issues
  • Developing or using tools to help you engage with your community and support wider climate action
  • Mentoring and peer support
  • Identifying strategic partnerships to become involved with

Financial and governance capacity:


  • Strengthening your governance and defining roles to enable ongoing action
  • Developing a suitable funding strategy to ensure the work can be supported over time.


Once you have identified your priorities and started to develop your plan, the support will help you to deliver the first stages of this.

This might include:

  • Defining the timetable, internal requirements and criteria for success
  • Developing a brief for external support or technical solutions
  • Identifying suitable contractors
  • Assessing tenders received
  • Providing ad hoc advice
  • Ongoing support to review and assess progress
  • Support to embed processes and practices in your organisation.

We recognise that some organisations may already have reached this stage and be able to embark on delivery earlier than others.

Specialist digital support

Specialist digital support will be provided by experts experienced working with social impact and community-centred organisations. Their support will have a high level of skills and capability building, as well as peer learning approach. In practice this means that community businesses will be learning how to approach digital transformation by doing with the guidance and support of the digital specialist.  

From our research with community businesses, we identified priority areas for support. This, together with the insights from the digital transformation programme experts who helped shape the design of this Powering Up programme, have informed the following three support options. Further learning from phase one of the programme might evolve this offer, as we are committed to ensure the community businesses get the greatest value from this programme. 

Support Option 1 – Digital Discovery – recommended option 

For community businesses keen to explore how digital can help them with a challenge. 

It includes researching and scope of the digital need. It involves activities such as: 

  • Carrying out user research 
  • Establishing goals and defining success 
  • Outline the value proposition 
  • Understanding the broader context 

Specialist will support small cohorts of community businesses to maximise learning and build a peer-community of practice.  

Curious about what digital discovery entails? This article will provide more information.  

Support Option 2 – Tools Training 

For community businesses who want to improve their collaborative (and remote) working approach through the use of online tools. 

It might include: 

  • Workshops and training sessions that build capability and confidence in utilising online tools to improve collaborative working, think Zoom, Asana, Trello, Miro, Teams, etc. 
  • Developing training tools, toolkits and guides for the wider team and key stakeholders 

Specialists will provide learning workshops to cohorts of community businesses to maximise shared learning and build connections amongst peers. 

Support option 3 – Introducing a solution 

For community businesses who have identified a solution to their digital challenge and who want support to tailor it to their needs and help to embedding it into their practice. 

It might include:

  • Tailoring low/no-code solutions (tools) to the needs of your community business 
  • Embedding the solution into your processes and practice 
  • Training and coaching on how to use tools  
  • Capability building for ongoing management of tool


Conditions that need to be met by community businesses to go straight into embedding a solution.

Evidence of:

  • thorough discovery and definition activities 
  • thorough user research and testing of wireframes 
  • there is a clear brief for support procurement 
  • support will be procured through and open process; when working with a known agency/freelancer there needs to be evidence this support was procured through an open process. 

We expect specialists will work 1:1 with community businesses to gain a thorough understanding of interconnected business functions in order to effectively implement the tool.  

How to access support

Step 1: Talk to your Community Business Connector 

You will be assigned a Community Business Connector who will discuss your needs with you in more detail.  

They will help you create a tailored programme to help you develop and grow. You can take a ‘mix and match’ approach, which means you can choose which of our support services you want to access.

Step 2: Complete a business review 

After you explain your needs, you and your Community Business Connector will complete a community business review. This exercise helps us to find the right kind of support for you.

Step 3: Create a business support plantion 

Once you are happy with your review, you will develop a business support plan with your Community Business Connector and specialist lead.

Your Community Business Connector will summarise your previous discussion in a document. They will outline what has been agreed into your business support plan.  

 The plan is sensitive to you and your organisation’s capacity. They will work with you to ensure that the plan aligns with your organisational plans and activities over the 12 months of the programme. 

This plan will be available on the online programme portal for you to review over the course of the programme.

Step 4: Identify support providers 

With a plan in place, your Community Business Connector will help identify which of our support providers can help you achieve the specific goals identified in your business support plan.  

You can choose to work with our support providers. Or you may choose to work with other organisations. You will be able to see all of our available support providers through the programme portal. 

Your Community Business Connector will help introduce you to support providers. You can then work with your support provider and your Community Business Connector to decide how to work towards the changes you want to make for you and your community business.

Programme portal

The programme portal (known as the award manager portal) is the main way for you and your team to manage your involvement in the programme. It provides an overview of your award and the support activities you have chosen and shows you the remaining funds you have available. You can also look at our approved support providers and submit your evidence of spend for the £8,000 grant.

    How to access the portal 

    You can access the portal here. The email address associated with your organisation’s profile on the portal is the main contact as given on your original application to the programme unless you have told us otherwise.

    You will be asked for your email address and then sent a six-digit code to enter the portal.

    Your connector can provide more detail and further resources will be available shortly.

    If you need further support

    Although we don’t expect anything to go wrong, we wanted to provide you with an alternative contact if you want to raise an issue that you don’t feel you can raise with your community business connector. In this instance, please email the Powering Up Delivery Manager.

    Please ensure that someone in your community business has overall ownership and accountability for the Powering Up Programme. If changes are needed during the 12 months, please notify your Community Business Connector as soon as possible.

    And finally, remember that this is a two-way process and by working in an open partnership we will achieve the desired results.

    Ready to talk about your grant?

    Check out our communications guide for grantees.

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