Rapid Response Fund

Currently, applications to the Sheila Coates Foundation rapid response fund are no longer being accepted. We will continue to offer opportunities for awards and grants in the future so please check the website for further news.

Support for autistic young people in mainstream education is highly variable. Quick, responsive solutions can make a difference - especially where there has been collaboration with autistic students. We have closed applications for the seventh rapid response fund round. It offered awards to secondary schools and colleges in the South East of England. We want to fund practical, immediate solutions to the issues facing autistic young people.

SCF’s rapid response fund releases small awards to address real issues facing autistic students in a short time frame. Between 2021 and 2023 six rapid response rounds helped over 10,000 autistic students in 301 schools and colleges to access mainstream education.

Applications opened on 25th September, and the deadline was 13th October 2023.

We talked to schools, autistic young people and specialist services. They highlighted three main areas where additional funding could help.

  • Mental health and well-being: over 70% of autistic young people have mental health conditions such as anxiety
  • Increasing autism knowledge and expertise in schools and colleges: 7 out of 10 autistic students feel school would be better if staff knew more about autism
  • Specific cohorts of autistic students where there is an identified need in school, for example those at phase transition in Y7, exam preparation in Y11, autistic girls, non-attenders.

We will prioritise applications which involve co-production or collaboration with autistic young people.

To meet this demand SCF offered one-off awards of £1,000 or £5,000 to mainstream secondary schools, colleges or other mainstream-based provision in the 19 local authorities of the South East of England. This is for short-term solutions which can be put in place immediately.


After SCF rapid response funding, upwards of 97% of schools reported an impact after even 5 months. Read more here.

To strengthen the way we measure impact, SCF is developing impact tools to be carried out with a sample of autistic students before and after funded activity. We will ask a sample of successful applicants to take part in a trial. More information here.

What will we fund?

  • Support for autistic young people’s mental health and access to mainstream education
  • Resources and/or implementation support
  • Ideas which are quick to put in place and will have an impact within 6 months

We are particularly interested in initiatives that will have an impact across schools/colleges beyond the autism team. This rapid response fund cannot be used for projects which need time to plan and set-up.

The following are just ideas of what we could fund


By this we mean things you can purchase to help autistic students. For example:

  • Laptops, iPads, tablets to support engagement with school or learning
  • Interventions, programmes, assessments
  • Soft furnishings for a ‘safe space’ supporting young people’s mental health
  • Training or interventions for work with staff or parents
  • Specialist training packages
  • The contents of a well-being or sensory package to share with home

Implementation support

By this we mean money to make things happen. For example:

  • Additional staff time such as extending existing hours to support well-being or engagement with school and learning, to set up and run groups or to actively involve autistic young people
  • Additional time for staff to attend or deliver staff development activities such as mentoring, action learning
  • The costs of running an event or initiative led by autistic young people
  • Transport costs

We are unlikely to fund recruitment for new staff given the timescale.

Applying for money from the SCF rapid response fund is quick and straightforward

  • Tell us your idea. Complete a 7-question application form
  • We’ll let you know if you are successful by 6th November 2023
  • Sign our terms and conditions document that we will send you (see an example here)
  • Complete some baseline measures with a sample of autistic students

Then you are ready to put your ideas into action!

The application deadline for the SCF rapid response fund was 13th October 2023 and so we are no longer accepting applications for this round of awards.