Kathy Siddle is an associate of the 2027 programme, they joined 2027 and launched their career in grant-making in 2019 through a placement at the Smallwood Trust. In this blog, they talk about why it’s important 2027 exists, share insight into what it’s like working in a foundation or trust, and the most valuable part of the development programme for them.
My placement experience
When I found out about the 2027 programme, I decided to apply due to two major reasons. I believed the programme was something that would upskill me, and give me job opportunities, which as an older applicant, I felt were often closed off. At the same time, I felt it would give me a focus on relevant and current issues, giving me the opportunity to explore these more deeply and allowing me to see how I could effect change.
Through the programme, I was placed in the Smallwood Trust, a grant-making organisation that supports women on low incomes, and I fulfilled the role of Grant Manager. The initial 3 months in the role were challenging due to my organisation receiving COVID emergency funds that had to be spent in 3 – 4 months. This challenge did teach me lots of very practical, grant-making skills, although, I felt a divide from the discussion issues on my 2027 days. However, once we got to the end of the grant run, I saw that my organisation was also interested in working to create systems change for the individual women we support, which then helped me connect my placement to the programme discussion topics.
The specific responsibilities I completed in my role were varied, starting at the point of checks, and contracts, (post-assessment), through to being responsible for up to 99 organisations. Throughout, I was called upon to do data analysis in my role; I had little experience of this pre-2027 but as I was given support in my placement, I was able to grow into this role and enjoy it. I also became responsible for my organisation’s commitment to the IVAR Principles (set of principles to make grant reporting a shared, more meaningful and mutually beneficial experience) with discussions to shape this meaningfully for my organisation. Another area where I was able to grow my knowledge was when I became involved in the Participatory Grantmaking Community. While my organisation eventually went down the route of co-production rather than PGM, I continue to grow my understanding and see lots of cross-over between these two approaches.
What I valued the most about the development programme
Every part of the programme taught me something, was useful and enjoyable, however,
- The Master Classes – I loved this aspect, it gave me training and insight to help me grow my knowledge of the grant-making sector and develop new skills for my career growth
- The network of peers – I think what made the programme most interesting overall was having a group of people who were going through similar journeys, and you always had someone to call upon. Even though the formal programme has now ended for my cohort year, we have continued to share problems online and look to each other for support.
Why should people apply to 2027?
If you’re thinking of applying, do it! It’s a wonderful opportunity to:
- Learn new skills,
- Have time to consider wider issues
- Meet a bunch of people, who while going through quite different journeys, are basically heading in the same direction and provide a realm of support
It’s important that the 2027 programme exists as it’s a way of bringing people into the grantmaking world who have lived, practised, or learnt experience of structural inequities; and who can bring that to bear on grantmaking. It provides a great opportunity for associates to not only learn through the Master Classes but to be exposed to other skills and wider sector and societal issues. The programme can only exist and change can only happen if people with the latter experience apply, so if this sounds like you, go for it!
The 2027 programme is currently open for applications and will close on 30 March, 1 pm. Apply by clicking here.