Developing A Regenerative Futures Fund #12: Inching Closer To Launch

Leah Black
5 min readApr 19, 2024

Hello from the world I’m embroiled in, where I’m way deeper than knee-deep in developing a new long-term unrestricted £15m pooled fund that shifts power to local people to make decisions on a cohort of community orgs in Edinburgh to lead place-based systems change across some big themes - poverty, racial inequality and injustice and climate change (phew — and yes I do have a bad habit of long sentences!).

Last week I wrote an update and thanks to our amazing learning groups as we come to the end of this chapter of co-design. I also have shared this with a group of people who have been advising, following along, supporting and cheering on.

Reminder that our learning groups have been a mix of individuals via End Poverty Edinburgh, community organisations, and funders and public sector partners — if you’d like to read more here is a blog that talks about this.

After I sent that I thought… I have an almost ready-made blog here.

So here is the (slightly edited) April 2024 update on Regenerative Futures Fund:

From March 2024 we have moved into a new phase of the project which means bringing the learning groups as they have been since the late 2022 / early 2023, to a close.

In March 2024 we created a condensed version of the detailed operational plan, which can be accessed here on the EVOC website.

We are also hoping to do an open Q&A session for community organisations in Edinburgh soon.

A few updates (and thanks!):

  • During Feb & March 2024 we did some reflection sessions with our three learning groups, as we bring these groups as they have been, to a close — Organisation Learning Group, End Poverty Edinburgh, and Funders Community of Practice — and we will be sharing a Learning Report on Co-Design soon (likely May) with a focus on participation and co-design. Thanks again to everyone who took part in these and we look forward to sharing the report.
  • The fund is designed. Two-phases — a capacity building phase and the 10-year programme. Full Operational Plan was completed in December. Condensed Version here.
  • Host agreed for the long-term fund is Foundation Scotland. We are hoping share some insights into the role of a host organisation at different stages of development and the importance of EVOC as host for the development phase, being locally embedded across a range of networks. This work is not possible without far-sighted, open-minded, flexible people in host orgs. Huge thanks to Bridie Ashrowan, Esther Currie and many wonderful colleagues at EVOC as well as Giles Ruck, Helen Wray and others at Foundation Scotland for being open to all of this.
  • Fundraising progress — £3.25m has been approved to date (BIG news!) with another approx. £3m moving through decision-making processes between now and early July. Funds approved to date are conditional and dependant on other funds being approved, but despite this it’s excellent progress. This is a complex thing — so, grateful to all of you who are involved, supporting and navigating processes and decisions (more coming soon on which funders are in the mix). If we can get to £5-£6m by June/July it’s going to be possible to launch the fund in 2024.
  • Huge thanks also to all who have come along with me to make presentations to funders, committees and at events — Tesfu Gessesse, Carmen Simon, Caroline Cawley, Agnieszka Morrison, Talat Yaqoob, Vicky Nyanga-Ndiaye, Chris Hellawell plus Linda Craik, Carmen Simon, Carolyn Sawers and Roddy Byers for being open to being interviewed by Mhairi Reid — brilliant to have your presence and voices in these spaces. Here are Carmen & Linda and here is Carolyn.
  • Future Fridays — we have an anthology of poems that have been written as part of the Future Fridays collective imagination programme led by Shasta Hanif Ali and Jennifer Williams. The anthology has been designed by Anupa Gardner. The poems and the anthology are both beautiful! Thanks to all who took part in this and embraced the collective writing experience wholeheartedly. Info on Edinburgh launch of this anthology coming soon. This sets the tone for the creativity and imagination that will be threaded through Regenerative Futures Fund over the long-term.
  • We have developed a nice simple logo thanks to Richy Lamb and are working currently on a simple website with David & George which we’d (very ambitiously) hoped to launch in March, given we are now in April let’s just say this will be coming soon.
  • We’ve continued to do as much open working as possible — this means we share what we are working on as we go — and experimenting with different types of comms that includes newsletters, interviews with those who have participated, and blogs. Once we have our website up and running it will be easier to share all of this in one place.
  • Personally I’d like to write something soon about working with a group of freelance facilitators and how inspiring and supportive this has been given that each person working a little on Regenerative Futures Fund, is also working on their own freelance work in funding and a whole range of other areas so we experience loops of learning and knowledge that strengthens and gradually helps make sense of things. Shout out to the super freelance crew! Suzy Glass, Mhairi Reid, Shasta Ali, Talat Yaqoob, Louise Mousseau and Jennifer Williams.
  • As we move into this next phase I wanted just to say a huge thanks to every person from the three learning and co-design groups (individuals via End Poverty Edinburgh, community orgs, and funders) who have embraced being part of this, leant into the complexity, come to sessions in person and online, dipped in and out often amidst very busy work and personal lives, supported, offered kindness, made sure we had fun, but also asked challenging questions.

As ever, keen to chat with anyone who would like to meet to talk any aspect through, you’d like to get involved. Amazingly, there is SO much more to share than what’s in this update (I’ve missed so many things, it probably needs another blog!) — but I’m always to happy to chat over anything here and missing bits.

An information / conversation session coming soon — for Edinburgh community orgs.

And our ‘funders progressing proposals’ group has been meeting regularly since January if anyone from funding orgs would like to know more about that in terms of joining as a funding partner by contributing to the pooled fund.


Finally — In 2023 I set myself a challenge to do 42 swims in my 42nd year and happy to report I am on track although I will be in the sea 4 times between now and next Saturday! Happy to have achieved a wee personal goal alongside a busy work year, and look forward to more swims in my 43rd year and beyond. Here is a pic of my favourite local swimming spot in early April ❤️

Groyne # 5 @ Portobello Beach

Please do email me on or find me on LinkedIn (that’s where things seem to be happening now) if you’d like to chat 😁



Leah Black

Lead, Regenerative Futures Fund Edinburgh; Chief Executive, Whale Arts; Warden, Incorporation of Goldsmiths; MBA student, Edinburgh Business School.