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Theirworld Innovation Scale-Up Awards now open!

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Theirworld seeks the next generation of education innovators

Students at Kwa Njenga Primary School in Kenya show NABU story books (Theirworld/Dennis Mwangi)

It’s the second edition of our Education Innovation Scale-Up Awards, with masterclasses, one-to-one mentoring and £80,000 grants to help the winning programmes expand and reach even more learners.


When you’ve got a great idea, how do you make it even bigger and better? That’s what the Theirworld Education Innovation Scale-Up Awards are all about.

Our first innovation awards in 2021 were so successful that the winning programmes directly reached 37,000 marginalised children and indirectly impacted more than 1.8 million people.

Now we’re launching a second round of awards – open to original and exciting programmes that we can support to scale up and deliver learning and skills to even more young people.

The Theirworld Education Innovation Scale-Up Awards are open to registered non-profits, NGOs and charities. We will give three winning programmes the opportunity to build their skills and capacities through masterclasses, one-to-one mentoring and £80,000 grants to support the expansion of their work.

Want to learn more?

A teacher guides students using the NABU programme at Kwa Njenga Primary School in Kenya (Theirworld/Dennis Mwangi)

Applications should focus on an area that comes under Theirworld’s thematic priority areas:

  • The best start in life – includes a healthy birth, and quality and inclusive early childhood education.
  • A safe place to learn – means looking out for vulnerable children and youth, especially children in emergencies and conflict.
  • Skills for the future – ensures all young people are ready to become engaged citizens able to participate meaningfully in society and the future of work.
  • Climate awareness and/or education
  • Reach marginalised learners, such as people in poverty and/or refugee or displaced populations.

To apply for the awards, all applicants must join two online workshops on February 23 and 28 to learn more about the process, then submit their full application between March 1 to 24. A panel will select the winners in April and the programme will begin fully in June. Find out more about the eligibility criteria.

100% All 2021 awards participants surveyed said they would recommend the programme to other organisations

The 2021 awards saw more than 700 expressions of interest which led to 150 applications. From 11 finalists, five winners were chosen to receive £50,000 grants, masterclasses and mentoring.

One of them was NABU from Kenya, which publishes high-quality reading material in mother-tongue languages, including via a free low-bandwidth reading app. It exceeded its goal of reaching 1.2 million children aged three to 10 in Kenya and other countries.

NABU Programmes Manager Beryl Oywer said: “Literacy is important because it can help us eradicate poverty but also it is the key to unlocking the potential of so many people.

Six-year-old Beatah Wangui and brother Robin Kamau, 11, use NABU’s reading app in Nairobi, Kenya (Theirworld/Trevor Maingi)

“It was very exciting to be a winner of the Theirworld Education Innovation Awards. It helped us to build capacity and to shape our theory of change.

“Organisations should definitely apply for the next awards. You’re not just getting a grant and money in the bank – you are getting training and mentorship from Theirworld. You won’t regret it. Your programme is going to be better, you’re going to be stronger and you’re going to scale up.”

Esa Gashigi, a teacher involved in the NABU programme in Kenya, said: “I’ve seen a great improvement. The children are not perfect yet but they can read better. They are really engaged in learning and they are always looking for the next storybook assignment.”

Innovation is key to ending the global education crisis. We need new ways to deliver education and to achieve Theirworld’s mission of unlocking big change.

Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown

As well as the scale-up grant, the winners will take part in intensive masterclass workshops to prepare their team to create and deliver a strong, thoughtful and focused scale-up strategy.  

Our scale-up expert and a monitoring and evaluation specialist will also work with the winning projects to regularly review how their plans are progressing and identify further support needs. 

Learn more about the awards