Any partnership programme should add up to more than the sum of its parts and it’s a well-known fact that partnership collaborations typically achieve more than organisations or projects working in isolation. So, when Our Bright Future – one of the largest partnership collaborations funded through the National Lottery Communities Fund was being conceived – how to harness and maximize the collective impact was a hot topic! But how? With an overall programme management consortium of eight organisations and 31 individual projects across the UK, many involving partnerships with other organisations in their own right, how would we foster and develop a sense of unity, cohesiveness and shared learning across the programme?


The answer was the Share Learn Improve (SLI) framework. A specific function designed to facilitate knowledge sharing and learning to develop best practice, add value to programme delivery and strengthen impacts and outcomes across the Our Bright Future programme. SLI is based on a cyclical learning approach taking feedback and suggestions from projects operating ‘on the ground’ along with ‘big picture’ inputs from the strategic functions that govern Our Bright Future such as the programme Steering Group. This ensured a holistic, flexible and adaptable approach to SLI. Broadly the function was made up of five key areas:

  • an annual two day residential seminar attended by all projects including staff and young people to promote programme and project successes, foster relationships and encourage knowledge sharing and lesson learning
  • regional face to face workshops held twice a year across the UK focused on specific issues providing the opportunity for projects to come together and explore key topics in more detail
  • ongoing webinars to share different project approaches both within and external to Our Bright Future, provide online training opportunities and providing an informal space for projects to come together and discuss the issues important to them
  • an online community called The Green Room containing useful resources and guides, a project news and updates section, calendar of events and a discussion area
  • a Project Support Network and Central Travel Fund designed to support projects with additional expertise and funding to attend core Our Bright Future events or undertake project exchange visits


Following the mid-term evaluation conducted by ERS, we developed a good practice guide based on the findings and lessons from the evaluation report published in 2019. The guide includes useful points and top tips for how to setup an SLI framework, the key mechanisms for delivery and the impacts and outcomes from the SLI approach. The key points and reflections to come out of this flexible, adaptive approach included:

  • having a dedicated member of staff for this element of the programme was invaluable
  • it is critical for all organisations involved to embed the SLI framework into a programme from the very start
  • SLI must be flexible, adaptive and have an evolutionary approach to respond to changing needs across the programme
  • an effective and continuous process of consultation, reflection and action is essential
  • SLI must work to remove barriers to participation by providing additional support such as central funding pots, training and resources
  • SLI must have an inclusive participatory approach with buy in from all programme functions


Feedback from projects across the programme has indicated how much they value SLI and the support it provides.


“We wouldn’t have been able to learn about it so quickly. We wouldn’t have adapted [the project] in the same way, with such an environmental focus or so quickly. Our understanding of the green economy and employment opportunities has changed. We have passed this on to our young people.”


To learn more about the SLI framework, key principles and implementation, please visit the best practice guide