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The Community Leadership Academy (CLA) provides support for the people affecting change in their communities, helping them to develop and share skills and knowledge that can benefit the whole community. Launched in 2020, the first year of the programme was targeted solely at people from Big Locals (a resident-led funding programme to create lasting change in 150 areas in England). Since 2021, it has also been open to participants from external partner organisations who are leading positive change outside of Big Local. The programme has already supported 112 individuals, with 32 current participants, and is designed to help people shape the future of their communities. The CLA is currently closed to new applicants.

‘The Community Leadership Academy has been amazing to me…I was so thankful to get nominated in the first place and I’ve just…ran with it. And I love getting all [the] ideas but then I feel as if I’m bringing it back to the partnership.’

CLA participant

Created by Local Trust in partnership with Koreo, the Young Foundation and Northern Soul, the Community Leadership Academy provides structured support for community-led change as part of the Big Local programme and beyond, and aims to increase our understanding of community leadership. The 2023/24 programme will be the Academy’s third cohort.  

Open to any volunteers actively involved in delivering Big Local projects, including Big Local partnership members, the Community Leadership Academy helps people who want to explore their own potential and the change they can bring to their neighbourhoods, by working effectively with others. Participants take part in a range of individual and group sessions, including personal coaching, to work on their own strengths and leadership style, develop leadership in others and set strategy.

‘We’ve all got the same kind of goals and we all want the same for our community … it’s nice to hear other people’s ideas…everybody’s quite open and honest.’

CLA participant

The Community Leadership Academy is a Big Local support offer. Providing at least £1m to each of 150 communities in England, Big Local is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and managed by Local Trust.

Who are the Community Leadership Academy partners?


Koreo is a learning consultancy dedicated to imagining and building a better world. They partner with people, organisations & communities to create radical learning spaces, programmes & ventures that help us all rise to the urgent demands of the 21st Century.

Visit Koreo’s website

The Young Foundation

The Young Foundation works to develop better connected and more sustainable communities across the UK. Bringing together their own – and other people’s – work, they are building a shared body of evidence, tools and insight about how communities are taking action on the issues that affect them.

Visit The Young Foundation’s website

Local Trust

Local Trust was established in 2012 to deliver Big Local, a unique programme that puts residents across the country in control of decisions about their own lives and neighbourhoods. Funded by a £217m endowment from The National Lottery Community Fund – the largest ever single commitment of lottery funds – it provides in excess of £1m of long-term funding over 10-15 years to each of 150 local communities, many of which face major social and economic challenges but have missed out in the past from accessing their fair share of statutory and lottery funds in the past.


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