Past Programmes

Over its lifetime CIVA has incubated a myriad of different programmes. A selection of these is presented below:


Young people have an important role today as active citizens, and tomorrow as leaders of social change. Over a number of years CIVA encouraged and supported young people to get active in their communities and incubated the following organisations:

Changemakers: young people leading change

Changemakers pioneered a “young person-led approach” , supporting young people to develop their own solutions to the problems and issues they believed to be important. In 2014, Changemakers merged with the Foyer Federation.

Youth Bank /Youth Bank International

YouthBank was launched in 1999 to enable young people to become grant-makers. Today, there are approximately 70 YouthBanks around the UK and across Ireland. The National Youth Agency led the programme until 2011, supporting a Board which consisting entirely of young people. Since then, the centre of energy has transferred to Northern Irleand, where Vernon Ringland at the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland is supporting 18 YouthBanks across the island of Ireland and has developed YouthBank International which coordinates the YouthBank movement which is now operating in more than 30 countries.

Young Achievers Trust: celebrating the achievements of young people

The Young Achievers Awards started as CIVA’s RSA Young Leaders Awards, launched in 2001 as part of the International year of Volunteers. In 2004, this award scheme was merged with the Whitbread-sponsored awards for young people, which CIVA also helped design. And in 2007, the awards were handed over by Whitbread to the newly-formed Young Achievers Trust.

The Young Achievers Trust was a partnership between CIVA, YouthNet, UnLtd and the RSA, governed by a board consisting mainly of young people.

The awards were offered annually with winners, runners up and highly commendeds in two age ranges 16 to 21 and 21 to 25 in the following categories: arts, community, environment and sport. The awards recognized the achievements of young people, and also invested in their future capabilities as young activists by offering cash prizes, access to project awards, money-can’t-buy opportunities and mentoring. The scheme ran until 2013.

SpeakersBank: encouraging public speaking

CIVA has been supporting SpeakersBank develop resources to assist young people improve their skills and get practice in public speaking.


A project enabling students and young people to operate their own bank taking deposits and making loans, to promote financial literacy and encourage enterprise.

Enterprise in a Box

A simple way for young people to develop their enterprise skills by buying a box, following the instructions, and ending up by nearly doubling their money,



Over the years CIVA has supported a range of global initiatives, two of which were:

Just Change: innovation in fair trade

A programme in India that links consumers and producers, trading their produce amongst one another, so that sellers get a higher price and buyers pay a lower price.

South-North Exchanges: sharing across the geographical divide

CIVA pioneered visits by people from the South to look at social issues in the UK and compare ideas and actions taken to address these issues with what they were doing back home.



An issue of global significance in its own right CIVA supported two initiatives get off the ground:

Children’s Development Bank: savings and loans controlled by children

CIVA has been working with Butterflies to develop a children’s banking programme run by the children themselves and targeted at street and working children. Today children’s banks are operating in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, where there are now 150 projects operating. In 2006 by mutual agreement, ChildHope took over CIVA’s role in managing the Comic Relief grant and supporting Butterflies.

ChildLine India and Child Helpline International: telephone helplines for street children

ChildLine India provides a crisis intervention assistance service to children on the streets with any problem (health, safety, abuse, abandonment, problems with the police and justice systems, wanting to be reunited with their families…). Today, ChildLine India is operational in 291 Indian cities and districts trhough a network of 540 partner organsiations, and has taken over 31 million distress calls since its inception. It is backed by the Government of India.



Central to social and economic development, literacy is an area that CIVA has been promoting for almost two decades. Three initiatives supported by CIVA of note are:

Books for Change: publishing for development

Books for Change was established by CIVA in 1996 with support from the Department for International Development.

Books, reading and village libraries.

In 1997, CIVA launched a village literacy programme with a grant from the National Lottery’s Community Fund to promote and support village libraries as a place in the local community to make books available and encourage reading.

Village Reading Programme

Our village reading programme aims to bring books to semi-illiterate women in villages… and then enable them to read and discuss the books, and decide what action they can take to improve their lives. We started in 2004 on a pilot basis and are now expanding the programme.



This area of work has been, and continues to be central to CIVA’s activities, with the organisation doing much over the years to further the fields of social entrepreneurship and voluntary action:

UnLtd: the foundation for social entrepreneurs

Michael Norton played a leading role in deciding to bid for the Millennium Legacy, in setting up a consortium to make that bid and in designing the proposals to the Millennium Commission.

UnLtd in India

In 2006, CIVA developed plans to start a foundation for social entrepreneurs in India linked to UnLtd in the UK, which has now been incorporated as UnLtd India and operates out of Mumbai.

The Social Entrepreneur Foundation India with its own board has been established in India as the vehicle for UnLtd India. A UK support organisation, the Social Entrepreneurs Trust, assists with fundraising and is used to receive international grants. This Trust was established using the charitable trust, which CIVA had used for its operations prior to establishing itself as a Company Limited by Guarantee. CIVA has also been providing secretarial services to the Trust. For further information or if you want to sponsor an Indian social entrepreneur, contact:

Alongside UnLtd India, CIVA helped create Journeys for Change, which organises study visits for social entrepreneurs around the world and others interested in social entrepreneurship to visit projects and interact with social entrepreneurs, mostly in India.

UnLtd in South Africa

In 2009, CIVA started work on establishing a foundation for social entrepreneurs in South Africa. A trust was established in Cape Town, and the first awards were made in 2010.


CIVA has developed Buzzbnk as a platform for crowdfunding social ventures which was launched in 2009, where people can make donations, loans or revenue share arrangements to back enterprises of their choosing. Its major backers include Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the Tudor Trust and the Wates Foundation plus a group of private investors. In 2012, Buzzbnk won a NESTA Innovation in Fundraising Award.

Buzzbnk is developing a number of partnerships working with social incubators and funders to encourage crowdfunding using its technology on a partner or “white label” basis. The first partnership was with Thundafund in South Africa. The second with Trillion Fund (which specializes in raising finance for clean energy projects) led to a merger of Trillion Fund and Buzzbnk (in October 2014).

For more information about Buzzbnk or the Trillion Fund to explore the idea of crowdfunding your own venture using, visit or

The International Centre for Social Franchising

CIVA developed the International Centre for Social Franchising in 2011 to promote the idea of social franchising and to provide professional expertise to assist in the process of rapid replication of successful social ventures.

The CIVA Innovation Labs programme

In 2012, CIVA developed spaces for encouraging community innovation in spaces that were lying empty on housing estates, the first two being in Hackney and Victoria.

365 ways to Change the World: an idea a day that will make a difference

It’s all too easy to disengage ourselves from the problems of the world, to leave it to the politicians, big business and international agencies to do something.

How to be a Community Champion: action manuals for young people

CIVA has developed a range of action manuals published in a simple workbook format with basic advice and space for readers to develop their own plans for getting into action.




Last, but by no means least, are the environmental projects CIVA has supported over the years:

The Otesha Project UK

CIVA has brought this award-winning Canadian project to the UK, where young people promote the idea of sustainable living in a fairer world to other young people, and encourage people to make sensible “Morning Choices”.

Carbon Neutral Housing

In July 2007, CIVA launched a project on two housing estates in England – in Bristol and the London Borough of Newham – to challenge residents to go carbon neutral.


In May 2009, CIVA launched FoodCycle to encourage students and other young people to cook reclaimed food in donated kitchen space to feed hungry people.


CIVA is developing a new project in partnership with Trees for Cities that will link primary age children with trees that they grow and look after.