Community billboard, photography by Francis Augusto

Urban health

Invitation to Tender: Devolved decision-making and funding learning partner

We’re looking for a learning partner to support a 12-month project focused on the devolution of funding decisions to communities. Apply by 1st March 2024.


We’re looking for a learning partner to support a 12-month project focused on learning about the devolution of funding decisions to communities. This project will bring together knowledge and data that we have generated from over ten projects, with the aim of enhancing the understanding and practices of key audiences regarding how to engage and enable communities to drive funding decisions that affect them.  

We would love to hear from you if you share our interest in shifting more decision-making power to communities, and if you are an expert in facilitating learning in ways that bring diverse stakeholder groups together to build their knowledge and motivate them to think and act differently.  

Please apply by submitting a short application of eight pages maximum (including CVs and budget) to Gabrielle Allen at by Friday 1 March 2024 at 5pm.  


About the learning partnership

Why we want to learn

We believe that giving more decision-making power to communities experiencing health inequities leads to more equitable, trusted, and responsive prioritisation and solutions. Since 2020, we have been investing in projects that explore how communities can be involved in and take more control over decision-making in funding. Our projects vary in their design and immediate objectives, but their main goal is similar: to devolve more power to residents and organisations from Lambeth and Southwark, enabling them to engage in and drive funding decisions 

So far, we have undertaken more than ten projects focused on the devolution of funding and decision-making, with some lasting up to three years. This creates a timely opportunity for us to engage in ‘cross-project’ learning about whether and how well these projects are working and how we can refine our thinking and actions as a funder 

Ultimately, we want the results of this learning partnership to drive internal practice improvements immediately, and equip us with the shared language, insights, and assets to influence external partners, peers and stakeholders in our ecosystem who are involved in or affected by funding decisions. 

What we want to learn about

The kind of cross-project learning we seek requires a clear, shared, overarching theory about why we undertake such projects, how we think the change we desire will happen, and what actions may be most decisive in enabling change. Having such a theory of change will enable us to create a strategic approach to learning across our projects. This strategic approach will support us to better understand how to approach and invest in devolved funding and decision making in the future.  

That’s why we are seeking to partner with an individual or team to help us develop this overarching theory of change and create a strategic approach. 

When done well, a strategic approach gives us a common language and terms to use internally and externally to communicate and create understanding about devolved funding and decision-making practices.  

Because of this, we are also expecting to develop a glossary during this learning partnership, that is a list of terms and meanings arising from our learning about our existing practices. 

Finally, we believe a good strategic approach is one that facilitates the timely generation and use of new evidence to inform real-time improvement in practices and responses to challenges. 

Therefore, we are also expecting the learning partnership to include at least one rapid round of testing on a small scale how the new theory of change and strategic approach may inform improvement work happening now in Impact on Urban Health. Feedback from this testing will inform refinements to the theory and approach, ahead of general dissemination and ongoing use in our practice. 

Expected tasks and deliverables from the learning partnership

We will take a collaborative approach to this learning partnership. At the outset, we will work with the learning partner to co-design the final partnership proposal and implementation plan, including specific approaches, activities, and outputs. At a minimum, we anticipate the following tasks and deliverables in order to achieve the three learning expectations mentioned above under the What we want to learn about section. 


  1. Collate and report on existing quantitative and qualitative data from across our ten-plus projects. The learning partner is not required to collect new or additional data about these projects. 
  2. Facilitate reflection and sense-making workshops with Impact on Urban portfolio managers and directors who are leading devolved funding and decision-making projects. We expect these workshops to use insights emerging from Task 1 to enable collaborative learning about the common and unique motivations, intentions, key mechanisms, end goals, and assumptions underlying our projects. We anticipate having four workshops that will include between 10 and 15 people. 
  3. Translate the learning emerging from Tasks 1 and 2 to create an initial theory of change that highlights the different potential pathways through which our projects may be seeking to facilitate greater devolution of funding and decision making to communities.  
  4. Use the initial theory of change to inform the development of an initial learning framework to serve as the basis for our strategic approach. 
  5. Use a rapid testing approach to begin socialising and collecting feedback on the initial theory of change and learning framework among Impact on Urban Health portfolio managers and directors, who are leading relevant projects and driving work to improve our funding practices right now. We anticipate an iterative approach to this testing, where socialising and feedback may be done with specific groups and in stages as tasks are being completed and learning and outputs emerge and become relevant to groups. This task is also included in the anticipated 4 workshops with 10-15 people.  
  6. Draft a glossary that includes a list of terms and meanings that arise during this learning partnership.  


  1. Concise insights report of the existing quantitative and qualitative data from across all our projects.  
  2. Facilitation of 4 reflection and sense-making workshops. 
  3. Facilitation of a rapid round of small-scale testing and feedback using the workshops above and one live improvement work in Impact on Urban Health.  
  4. Written Theory of Change and Learning Framework to provide an overall strategic approach to continuously learning about and improving our devolved funding and decision-making practices.  
  5. Glossary. 

Expected participants and audiences for our learning 

We are eager to engage and share learning from this partnership with key internal and external groups. 

Engaging with internal groups to enhance internal understanding and practices related to devolved funding and decision-making at Impact on Urban Health and Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation 

  • Internal participants: These include 10 to 15 portfolio managers and programme directors. The aim is to support this group to directly be involved in and contribute to the learning partnership activities, including all workshops and the rapid testing. 
  • Internal audiences: These include all other staff across Impact on Urban Health and Guy’s & St Thomas Foundation, including staff at leadership, management, and implementation levels. The aim for the learning partnership is to create opportunities to gain early feedback and clarifying questions from the leadership level, and to consider the wider audiences to develop the most suitable ways and outputs to disseminate learning. 

Engaging with external groups to provide thought leadership to others on why and how they can change their funding and decision-making practices. 

  • External Audiences: These include our partners and other foundations and peers in the wider philanthropic and social purpose-led ecosystem, who share our interest in and commitment to rebalancing funding and decision-making powers in favour of communities. The aim for the learning partnership is to consider these external audiences to develop the most suitable ways and outputs to disseminate our learning for influencing them. 

Who we want to partner with

To successfully support this learning partnership and help us achieve the above-mentioned tasks and deliverables, the learning partner must be able to demonstrate the following knowledge and skills: 

  1. Expert knowledge in either restorative justice, social justice, deliberative democracy, or participatory grant-making, as well as expert knowledge in systems change.  
  2. Advanced research skills, including being able to collect, analyse, synthesise, and present both quantitative and qualitative information and learning from various audiences and contexts. 
  3. Expert facilitation skills to lead and coach diverse teams through iterative reflections, deliberations, and actionable decision-making. 
  4. Expert knowledge and prior experience of using rapid evaluation (RE) approaches to drive internal process and practice improvement. We particularly welcome experience in using an empowerment approach alongside RE approaches to ensure that internal groups can be meaningfully involved and have what they need to drive their own learning and improvement. 
  5. Expert skills in research or science communication, or research storytelling to help us creatively disseminate learning to our different participant and audience groups. 
  6. Expert project leadership skills, particularly in managing learning partnerships. 

We also require a learning partner who demonstrates: 

  1. Commitment to equitable and inclusive learning, research, and evaluation practices. 
  2. Ability to work creatively and flexibly, responding to issues quickly and adjusting plans and approaches as needed. 

Budget and time

The total budget for this learning partnership is £75,000, including expenses and VAT. 

The duration of the learning partnership is 12 months. We expect learning partnership work to begin in April 2024 following the appointment of the successful learning partner.  

How to apply

Interested individuals or organisations who match our required knowledge, skills and attributes can submit a short application of eight pages maximum (including CVs and budget) by email to Gabrielle Allen. The application deadline is Friday 1st March 2024 at 5pm.

Your application must include the following: 

  1. A short, written statement outlining the relevant knowledge, skills, and personal attributes which you/your team possess and how you envision using these to help us achieve the stated learning expectations, tasks, and deliverables. 
  2. A short, written summary providing details of two different initiatives or projects you/your team have been directly involved in that showcase your previous experience in systems change and restorative justice, social justice, deliberative democracy or participatory grant-making. Details should describe your/your team’s role, the purpose or aim of each initiative/project and the major contributions you/your team personally made. 
  3. A CV or biography for you/each member of your team. CVs or biographies may be written in the application below 1 and 2 above, or attached as separate documents, or hyperlinked from your website under a “CVs and Biographies” heading in the application. 
  4. A simple budget (max of £75,000 including VAT) outlining your/each team member’s daily rate of pay and the anticipated number of days and expenses you think you/your team might incur to undertake our proposed learning partnership work. 

After you apply

Applications will be assessed by a team from Impact on Urban Health based on the following: 

  1. Relevant knowledge, skills, and personal attributes 
  2. Demonstrated understanding and expertise based on previous work 
  3. Affordability of the individual partner or proposed team 

We will invite preferred candidates to meet with a panel of three Impact of Urban Health staff members for an online discussion lasting up to 45 minutes. This discussion will focus on giving candidates more information about the learning partnership, unpacking information from candidates’ applications, and creating space for candidates and the panel to start getting to know each other. At the end of the discussion, we will ask for the names and contact details of two references who candidates have worked with previously. 

We expect screening to take place during the week commencing 4 March 2024. 

Online discussions will be held on Thursday 14 Match 2024 and Monday 18 March 2024.  

We expect to decide on a learning partner by Friday 22 March 2024. 

If you have any questions or for more information about this brief, get in touch with Gabrielle Allen. 


Gabrielle Allen

Apply now

Submit your application to Gabrielle Allen by 5pm on 1st March 2024.