Funding for systems change: The story of Barrow Cadbury Trust’s Transition to Adulthood Campaign

Two decades ago, Barrow Cadbury Trust initiated Transition to Adulthood (‘T2A’) – a collaborative criminal justice campaign making the case to policy makers, practitioners and sentencers for a distinct approach for young adults (18 to 25-year-olds).

At the time, the term ‘systems change’ – to describe work to shift the conditions that hold complex problems in place – had limited currency with UK trusts and foundations. Twenty years on, it is increasingly advanced as the means of achieving greater impact when tackling intractable issues. But greater use of the term has not always been accompanied by deep appreciation of what is involved, and required, by funders who seek to support system-level change.

This report – the story of T2A as a systems change effort – is intended to illuminate T2A’s direct experience of pursuing change in the criminal justice system. It is based on a review of T2A plans and outputs, an overview of relevant literature, and more than 30 interviews with key people with direct experience of, and involvement in, the work.


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