A £750,000 grant award is being offered by the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT) to fund an innovative digital charity project that could have a transformational effect on people’s lives.
The Charity IT Award is a single award that will go to an outstanding charity running a project that uses the innovative nature and power of IT to tackle clearly identified needs of either young people’s education or those contending with disadvantage, disability or social exclusion.
Mike Jenkins, Clerk to the WCIT and a trustee of the WCIT Charity through which the award is being made, says: “The WCIT Charity is offering its first ever Charity IT Award of £750,000 to champion the transformative power of IT to help charities have a bigger impact on people’s lives. This underscores the continuing relevance and role of the Livery in the 21st century.
“We are excited that we will find an idea that will change the lives of people. We are seeing that people aren’t making the most of the transformative power of IT. We could have salami sliced the amount to make many smaller grants and that would have been acceptable, but we want to show the huge impact IT can have.”
The amount represents several year’s reserves of the 25-year-old IT company that receives donations from its 800 members. “We wanted to make the most of this opportunity to use our reserves to showcase what IT can do,” says Mr Jenkins.
He said as the fund is so large they would be considering multi-year projects. They are inviting applications from charities and other organisations with a social purpose who have a tunrover of between £2m and £10m.
“We feel that the amount is so large it could have a detrimental effect on smaller organisations unable to absorb such a sum. We also recognise a challenging dynamic in the call for innovative projects that are also proven. We are looking for credible, deliverable ideas that address issues in an innovative way or perhaps address new challenges. We have put in place a light touch process that asks for expressions of interest in the first place which we will consider before asking for more detailed applications. We are looking for projects that we can encourage and enable.”
The Charity IT Award was announced by chair of judges, Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE at IT Hall in the City of London. The other award judges are Dr Eben Upton CBE (Raspberry Pi Foundation); Debby Ounsted CBE (Past Master Mercer); Jo Connell OBE DL (Past Master WCIT); Sheriff Tim Hailes JP; Bharat Mehta CBE (CEO Trust for London); Gary Moore (WCIT Charity Operations Committee Chair) and Robin Christopherson MBE a founding member of the UK technology charity AbilityNet and evangelist for digital inclusion.
In 2017 the WCIT Charity gave £200,000 to good causes, and the funding is often supported by the time and talent of the membership, ensuring that their commitment delivers greater impact than the funding alone could achieve.
One of the projects WCIT has funded is Eye Gaze, inclusive technology that allows physically disabled people to use their eyes to operate computers. Mr Jenkins says: “As a result of funding and making the units more available the unit cost has come down so that individuals can afford them. The difference they make to say teenagers who have been unable to communicate with the world who can now surf the internet is amazing. We are very proud of our work and want to fund a project that can make this kind of transformational difference to people’s lives.”
Applications for the Charity IT Award open on April 23 and close on May 18. The winner will be announced on October 10. Charities are encouraged to find out more at wcitcharity.org.uk. WCIT Charity can be followed on Twitter @WCITCharity or by using the hashtag #CharityITAward.