Funding for Disability Projects

There are many different ways of getting money for your project: your organisation or participants can cover the costs themselves, you can sell cakes or organise parties, you can find a philanthropist or company that wants to support you or you can apply for funding from some funding institutions. Mostly you will be dependent on a combination of these various financial sources.

European Youth in Action Programme

One of the biggest funding possibilities for youth projects is the European Youth in Action programme of the European Commission. It is a European mobility programme aimed at young people from (13)15-25(30) years of age during their leisure time (out-of-school activities). The programme promotes active European citizenship, solidarity, intercultural learning and trans-national mobility. It focuses on projects between European Union countries and associated countries.

There are several types of projects that are funded (part of travel costs, lump sum per person per day, contribution to programme and preparation costs):

  • Youth Exchanges (groups of young people meet)
  • European Voluntary Service (young people go volunteering abroad)
  • Group Initiatives (local projects set up by the young people)
  • Support for youth workers (training, seminars, job-shadowing, feasibility visits,...)
  • Find out more about this programme by downloading the Programme Guide or contact the National Agency in your country (find a list of contacts at

The European Youth in Action programme focuses specifically on 'ensuring that ALL young people' should have access and that there are 'special efforts to assist young people who, for [...] physical and mental reasons find it more difficult to participate' in this programme . There are special measures to support special target groups, such as young people with a disability and by deduction also mixed-ability projects.

  • It is possible to apply for 'exceptional costs' in your application. This could be for the renting of special equipment for your mixed-ability group: adapted transport, sign language translators, hearing equipment for meetings, special apparel enabling people with a disability to do an activity,... You can also put personal assistants, sign language interpreters and other assistance under 'exceptional costs'.
  • Recently the European Commission also introduced the idea of 'Reinforced Mentoring' within voluntary service placements. It would cover some of the costs of a mentor helping out the person(s) with a disability. This mentor could at the same time be a personal assistant.
  • There is 'Short Term European Voluntary Service' which is only for young people with special needs. Instead of going abroad for between 6 and 12 months, a person with a disability (potentially with a personal assistant) can go on a voluntary service project for a period from 3 weeks on.
  • An option within EVS is the so-called 'tandem' where a young person with a disability is placed in a same project as a peer without a disability from the same organisation. They can give each other mutual support and assistance where needed.
  • There is also a possibility to link a voluntary service with a youth exchange. A young person with a disability would start off on a project abroad in the safe and comforting company of the young people and youth workers from his or her organisation, and stays on for a period of voluntary service (alone or in tandem).
  • Youth Exchanges are most interesting and challenging when multilateral (groups from 4 or more countries involved). But groups with special needs (e.g. mixed-ability youth groups) can also apply for bi-lateral projects (less complicated to organise because only 2 partners/countries involved). They usually get priority over other bi-lateral projects.
  • There is a priority within the Group Initiatives for projects from groups with fewer opportunities (e.g. mixed-ability youth groups). Group Initiative projects with and for young people with fewer opportunities get higher funding.
  • When preparing a project, it is possible to do a preparatory visit, and in some cases the youth worker can go with the person with a disability e.g. to check if facilities in the host country are accessible, if the EVS host placement is appropriate for the volunteer with a disability, etc
  • The upper age limit could sometimes be extended for people with a disability if there are arguments for it

!!! None of these examples are 'rules', but they are measures that COULD be taken by your National Agency of the YiA programme to support your mixed-ability project - always check with your NA what is and isn't possible. You would need to justify and explain why you would need the extra funding.

The NAs are there to inform you about the possibilities and they can help you with your project ideas or suggest that you attend their information sessions or training activities. Every NA also has an Inclusion Officer that works specifically to include underrepresented groups and people with special needs (e.g. disability) in the YiA programme. Most of the NAs also have people from 'inclusion organisations' on their selection committees.

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European YOUTH Foundation

The Council of Europe in Strasbourg manages the European Youth Foundation which also gives support to International Youth Meetings (Cat. A) and Pilot Projects supporting youth participation and combating social exclusion (Cat. D). It goes without saying that mixed-ability projects fall into these two categories.

Youth Meetings should have participants from a minimum of 7 Council of Europe member countries who are under 30 year of age. The youth meetings should contribute to the objectives and priorities of the Council of Europe:

  • Human rights education and intercultural dialogue
  • Youth participation and democratic citizenship
  • Social cohesion and inclusion of young people
  • Youth policy development

The European Youth Foundation also gives 'Administrative Grants' to European youth organisations and networks (Cat. C) and grants to 'International Projects other than Meetings' (Cat. B) for example studies, research, documentation, special publications, exhibitions, campaigns, the production of audio-visual material and the development of websites on youth matters.

Solidarity Fund for Youth Mobility

For every 'Inter Rail Card' that is sold (European rail pass for a month's travelling), the Union of Railways puts one Euro into the Solidarity Fund for Youth Mobility. This fund supports rail travel for groups (minimum 10 people) of 'disadvantaged' young people (e.g. mixed-ability groups) when going on an international project.

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More funds?

EuroDesk and ERYICA are two networks of youth information offices throughout Europe (in some cases they are in the same office). EuroDesk provides information about Europe and various European funding sources, whereas ERYICA works more generally in the areas of youth information and counselling. They can also help you in finding national funds. Or ask your national youth council about what national funding exists for youth projects.

If you are looking for more creative ways of raising funds in your local community (selling goodies, organising events or offering services have a look at the 'Fundraising Idea Bank' at

There is also a T-Kit on Funding & Financial Management, developed by the Partnership for European Youth Worker Training, with lots more tips & tricks for funding your youth projects.

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