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The Duke of York’s Community Initiative, a highly regarded award scheme that seeks to recognise third sector excellence throughout the whole of Yorkshire, has used its annual award holder’s conference to announce three major developments.

At the conference, which was held at HMP Askham Grange, representatives from more than thirty community groups and charities were given details of two brand new areas of support: The Business End (a business forum which invites businesses to use the Initiative’s rigorous evaluation process as a means of ensuring their Corporate Social Responsibility agenda is implemented in the best possible way) and The Talent Bank (an on-line facility that will see more than one hundred award holders drawing together to provide a vast pool of mutual experience and expertise).

The third development is an increase of £5,000 in the Initiative’s Innovation Fund. This means that from September 2014 the Fund will be able to award grants totalling £15,000 to award holders who need help financing new and innovative projects.

Speaking at the conference Stephen Beyer, one of the Initiative’s trustees said: “These are really exciting times for the Duke of York’s Community Initiative. In less than two years we have moved on from being a scheme that simply recognises outstanding community involvement to an organisation that can support its award holders in both a financial and practical way.”

Meanwhile, in a personal message to the conference HRH the Duke of York, wrote: “The launch of The Talent Bank, the exciting opportunities that will come about through The Business End and the benefits to be had from an increased Innovation Fund are all developments that will help to ensure that organisations who meet the Initiative’s strict assessment criteria are able to expand their horizons without overstretching their current resources. So, whether you represent an organisation that affects the lives of hundreds of people or you are in a group that provides support for just a small number of individuals I as your Patron would like you to know that I have immense respect for you all”.

Applications for the 2014 round of awards are still being received. For full details and an application form visit www.thedukeofyorkscommunityinitiative.org.uk

The team were award winners in 2013.