What is the Footsteps Fund?
The Footsteps Fund aims to support areas of strategic importance for the University of Leeds where philanthropy can make a tangible difference to widening participation activity, the student experience and student opportunities. We want to help members of our community to make a tangible difference to the lives of students.
Where does the money come from?
The Footsteps Fund is made up of income raised from fundraising activity from thousands of generous alumni and supporters of the University who give to support students to make the most out of their time at Leeds.
These donors do not specify where they want this income to go and trust the University to decide where to spend this gift in a way which will have the biggest and best impact. The responsibility for this decision lies with the Footsteps Fund Committee, which comprises of staff and student representatives.
Biggest or best impact does not just mean immediate direct financial need (i.e. scholarships or hardship funds), but wherever the strategic need is greatest – that is, enabling a rich, rewarding, beneficial experience for our students. This may involve a major scheme or a much smaller-scale project or activity.
How often does the money get distributed?
Funding is available once per year, after the Footsteps Fund Committee has met to review applications, typically in June. This allows you to consider your application in line with IPE planning and achieve the greatest strategic impact.
Who are the Footsteps Fund Committee members?
The Footsteps Fund Committee is chaired by Gregory Miller; Deputy Director of Student Opportunity. The committee includes members from Student Opportunity, Student Finance, Educational Engagement, Student Wellbeing, Finance, the Advancement team, and a member of the LUU executive. The committee’s remit is to ensure the most effective distribution of the funds in line with donor wishes and the University’s strategic aims, particularly with regard to the student experience, disbursing funds to projects deemed to have the biggest and best impact.
Who can apply?
If your project meets the strategic priorities and you have consulted with a strategic lead, you can apply.
Since 2010, over 2,000 students have received Widening Participation scholarships for undergraduate or postgraduate study at Leeds. 211 new scholarships were awarded during the last academic year.
Funded by alumni and friends of the University, scholarships provide financial security to students so that they can realise their full potential.
They are granted to students with the greatest need based on eligibility criteria, and provide £3,000 a year to cover living and other associated costs of being at University. Students tell us that scholarships help them pay for essentials like rent, food and bills, but also provide them with a sense of certainty and financial freedom.
Our students also tell us that knowing that someone believes in them and their abilities is life-changing. It gives them a sense of wellbeing and confidence that frames their university experience and drives them to succeed.
“At a time where I had so much to consider and think about – you have given me a sense of financial security which has meant I can take up opportunities. Thank you so much.
Being estranged I always have to look to the future, and my scholarship allowed me enough to live on and save for a rainy day.”
Meegan Worcester, MSc Sustainability and Consultancy
The Lifestyle and Wellbeing Programme
The Lifestyle and Wellbeing Programme has been funded by the Footsteps Fund for the past 3 years and is a shining example of a successful project. The programme is a collaborative project between Student Counselling and Wellbeing, Plus Programme, Disability Service and Sport & Physical Activity. They provide a holistic 12 week programme aiming to improve the overall wellbeing of the students accessing it and equip them with the motivation, skills and confidence to continue making positive choices to support their health and wellbeing long after the programme ends.
As students continue to live through challenging times, the programme supports their mental and physical wellbeing. With the help of Footsteps Funding, the programme has had a significant impact on the wellbeing of over 1,000 students since its inception. Supporting in excess of 200 students in the upcoming academic year, through our existing partnerships with Student Counselling and Wellbeing, Plus Programme and Disability Service and through establishing new connections within academic faculties.
“It has changed my activity levels completely, from sedentary to very active. I thought I’d use exercise as a way to lose weight to become confident, instead it has become a fun way for me to deal with stress and accomplish goals by getting stronger and going further”.
“Thank you so much for all the help, guidance and support - it really has been life changing”.
Student feedback from the 2021 Lifestyle and Wellbeing Programme Report.
The Global Leadership Forum
Successful projects can vary hugely in format, in contrast to the Lifestyle and Wellbeing Programme the Global Leadership Forum (GLF) was an exclusive 4-hour online leadership programme that aimed to bring together up to 1,000 University of Leeds students from all levels of study and disciplines. The GLF was a chance for students to take ownership of the leadership that will define them, their generation, and the impact they will have on the world.
Students had a choice of 4 Masterclasses and 4 Leadership Insights. Through the Masterclasses and Leadership Insights students explored key themes and issues with a range of expert speakers from across different countries and organisations.
The programme ended with an optional networking session where students could informally meet and share their learning with peers from across different countries and universities.
Applications can come in from the University and Leeds University Union (LUU) Clubs and Societies. In successful LUU projects we see a plethora of exciting opportunities for students to enrich their university experience.
Successful LUU projects often help societies with providing equipment, gear or money for travel, so that all students can get involved in their activity.
Some examples include LUU Nightline and Tae-Kwon-Do.
LUU Nightline provide a listening service from 8pm - 8am everyday throughout term, when most other university support services are closed for students - particularly those in crisis. This year they gained funding for two new computers for their instant messaging service.
With these computers they kept their Instant Messaging service open every night until the end of June, and reopened on 12th of September this year. They also aim to welcome new and existing volunteers with the addition of these new computers.
In LUU Tae-Kwon-Do Society some students could not afford to take part in paid competitions as the could not afford sparring gear. Additionally, international students did not want to buy gear which they could not take home.
By applying for the Footsteps Fund they were able to launch their sparring gear hire scheme and make their society more accessible for all students who wanted to get involved.
"Tae-Kwon-Do can be an expensive sport and it broke my heart this year to see some people choosing between buying sparring gear and attending competitions. This scheme will reduce the cost of sparring gear by 70% for a student and that will help so much!"
If you are inspired by these projects and think you have an idea which will benefit students across campus, please join our mailing list to hear first when applications open. Things to bear in mind;
- Footsteps Fund projects must be for the benefit of students.
- To make sure applications strategically align with University activity we require all applicants to consult with a strategic contact with an outline of your project idea. This should be done before filling in the application form to make the most of the consultation. Strategic leads must have agreed your project meets University priorities before submitting your application to the committee.
- If your project meets the strategic priorities and you have consulted with the strategic lead outlined below, you can apply. Successful funding will be disbursed into a university bank account so you must make sure you have spoken to your Faculty Finance Manager.
Strategic Leads and Key Contacts
Strategic leads can confirm your project will fulfil a strategic need and help sign post you to other potential contacts including relevant finance colleagues, but they are not responsible for agreeing funding. You should select the strategic area or areas your project covers and speak to the most appropriate contact:
- Greg Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org): Student Opportunities e.g. Supporting a sense of belonging and community; digital innovation and global opportunities
- Matt Dollery (email@example.com): Student Engagement & Outreach e.g. Widening Participation (WP) activities, WP Scholarships, Plus Programme, Student Opportunity Fund
- Chris Warrington (firstname.lastname@example.org): Student support e.g. disability, counselling, health & wellbeing, the international student experience at Leeds
- Suzanne Glavin (email@example.com): Sport & Physical Activity e.g. creating an inspiring environment where being active is easy, accessible, sustainable and rewarding
- Doug Muzawazi (firstname.lastname@example.org): LUU e.g. Clubs, Societies, Union schemes or programmes
- If you are unsure as to who to contact please email email@example.com.
Student engagement and Outreach
UG & PG WP student scholarship support
Estranged/Care leaver student support
Student counselling, health and well being
Supporting disabled students’ co-curricular activity
Supporting proactive engagement of students to promote positive wellbeing and belonging
Supporting the development/enhancement of a truly global student community
Supporting the accessibility of services for students
Supporting underrepresented students to access a range of local and global opportunities to enhance their student experience and future careers aligned with the University strategy.
Projects that support a sense of belonging and community.
Digital innovation that reaches wider audiences
Supporting opportunities for students to make a positive contribution to society
Ensuring our opportunities reach all cohorts including international students.
Ensuring that the portfolio of opportunities meets the needs of students across work, study, volunteering and research.
Sport & physical activity
Supporting the enhancement of personal development and employability skills through academic, leadership and volunteering offers in sport and physical activity.
Improving staff, student and local community health and wellbeing.
Supporting students to reach their potential through and beyond sport.
Supporting the safety of students e.g. sports safety equipment.
Students, clubs and societies
Clubs and Societies should use the priorities identified above to consult with lead contacts related to the project idea. They should also consult Max Camara as the LUU Clubs and Society lead contact.
How to apply
Footsteps Fund 2023 applications will open on 13th March, the committee will meet in June 2023. Applications are submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Footsteps Fund is an incredible opportunity to enrich the lives of students, and put the money of generous donors to good use. Staff from all across the university can get involved in exciting new project ideas, varying from large scale year-long activity, to smaller projects.