The Oracle Riverside in Reading at night

Reading’s Community Fund

The University of Reading has partnered with the John Sykes Foundation to launch a new Community Fund, to support colleagues working on projects which benefit the local community in Reading.

The new Community Fund forms part of the University’s commitment to being a university for Reading; one which is engaged with the town and its people.

The Fund is open to all University staff members and supports applications which involve projects working with, and for the benefit of, a local Reading community group or individual(s). Proposed activities should be located within a five-mile radius of Reading town centre, and must further at least one of the University’s charitable objectives of advancing education, learning or research. 

CONNECTED shares an insight into the University’s partnership with the John Sykes Foundation that has made this new Fund possible, and finds out more about how this Fund will help to build positive relationships between the University and the local community.

The John Sykes Foundation

Established in 2014 by John Sykes – who is now the Chair of Trustees – the John Sykes Foundation is a charity which aims to improve the lives and well-being of individuals and communities within the town of Reading where there is an element of disadvantage.

The charity was founded and is personally supported by the Sykes family. Having lived in the Reading area all their lives, they are committed to Reading as both a town and a university, and are passionate about helping those less fortunate in their beloved town.

Annabelle Sykes, Trustee at the Foundation and daughter of John, said: “The John Sykes Foundation are excited to partner with the University of Reading, engaging with our community to help build brighter futures for charities, groups, and individuals within the Reading area.

“My family and I have an unwavering love of, and are immensely proud of, Reading, where our heritage is deeply rooted, and we place the local community at the heart of what we do.

“This partnership, strengthened by our shared values and positive ethos, presents us with great opportunities, and it is so wonderful our University is not only of Reading, but also the University for Reading.”

Supporting our community

The Fund is being launched as a two-year pilot, and if successful will become an ongoing fund, dedicated to supporting research work and other projects in our community.  

The Foundation is contributing £30,000 and the University is contributing £20,000 a year for the first two years, and the £50,000 Fund will be made available for use in both the 2021/2022 and the 2022/2023 academic year.

This new partnership has enabled the University to move from making one-off, smaller awards – in the region of £1,000 per annum – to consider making larger awards of up to a maximum of £10,000 per annum on a one-off or multi-year basis.

University of Reading Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Van de Noort commented: “So many of my colleagues are actively involved in building positive relationships with the local community either through their day jobs or in a voluntary capacity.

“The new Community Fund will enable us as a University to do more at a time when many need it the most. I looking forward to hearing about projects that we can support through this Fund.”

Dr Sally Lloyd Evans, Public Engagement Community Research Fellow, said: “Many of our colleagues, students and organisations have inspirational ideas for building important grassroots projects with local communities, but they lack the resources to get initiatives started.

“This new Community Fund is core to the University’s commitment to working together with our local communities for the mutual benefit of everyone in Reading. I’m excited to be part of this partnership and I can’t wait to see how it develops.”

The closing date for applications is 30 June 2021 and all the proposed projects will be reviewed by a panel, which includes both Professor Van de Noort and John Sykes. Successful applicants will be notified in September 2021.

If you are a University of Reading academic or professional staff member, you can find more information on how to apply here.

Discover more about the John Sykes Foundation.