The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme

  1. What is The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme?

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, in partnership with Comic Relief, The Royal Commonwealth Society and the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education, established The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme in honour of Her Majesty The Queen’s 60 years of service to the Commonwealth.

Over the course of its five-year life span, the Programme aims to discover, celebrate and support young people from Commonwealth nations to transform their own lives and the futures of others around them.

This unique, life-changing Programme has two parts:

  • An Awards programme that celebrates the achievements of exceptional young people who have proved themselves to be inspiring leaders in their communities and have overcome challenges in their lives to do so.

  • A Grants programme that supports organisations in selected countries across the Commonwealth that work with young people to help solve the problems affecting their lives and the communities in which they live with innovative, youth-focused solutions.

  1. What is the Programme aiming to achieve?

The Programme is seeking to celebrate the achievements of young people and support them to develop their leadership skills and improve the lives of people across the Commonwealth. It aims to ensure that:

  • Young people are better qualified to secure employment and apprenticeships or create sustainable enterprises.
  • Young people are able to effectively express their needs and aspirations in order to influence decision makers.
  • Clear evidence is collected that demonstrates the unique contribution young leaders make in improving society.


  1. Why young people?

60% of the Commonwealth are under 30, which is 10% higher than the global average. This means the Commonwealth’s youth population is currently the largest it has ever been, and these young 1.3 billion young people represent a huge opportunity.

Young people have the ideas, energy and talent to make a huge difference to the communities in which they live – and to the Commonwealth as a whole. Despite this, young people are often not given the opportunity to shape society and rarely have access to the resources required to make their visions a reality. The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme was created to help change this.

The Awards Programme

1. What is the criteria for an Award winner and how have they be chosen?

Each application/nomination must meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants need to have proven experience of working to improve their communities locally, regionally or at a national level and be able to show evidence of their achievements.
  • Applicants must be citizens of and working in a Commonwealth country or citizens of an Overseas Territory (of a Commonwealth Member).
  • Applicants need to demonstrate evidence of their leadership qualities.
  • All applicants need to be supported by a suitable referee (a professional in one of the following occupations; a teacher or counsellor; a registered physician or nurse; a church or community leader; social worker or family services; or business leader). Referees must not be related to you.
  • Priority is given to individuals who have overcome challenges to achieve their goals.

All applications/nominations were considered based on the young person’s achievements to date as well as their potential and their future ambition. Award winners were shortlisted by a panel made up of young people from across the Commonwealth. The shortlist was then presented to The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme Board, which contains members from all partner organisations, for final selection and decision.


2. What is the package of support that Award winners received?

Award winners received a year-long tailored package of online-learning, mentoring and networking, and provided with a Residential Programme in the UK, during which they received their Award from Her Majesty The Queen. The programme aimed to strengthen the skills and confidence of Award winners to equip them to further change the lives of those around them and inspire the next generation of young leaders through their own actions and values. Please note that the Awards package did not include a financial reward or grant.

3. What are Award winners expected to deliver?

With the support offered by the Awards Programme, winners and runners-up will be expected to continue and develop the amazing work they are already doing in their communities.


4. Why is The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme coming to an end? 

The Queen’s Young Leaders Awards Programme was established to create a network of exceptional young leaders across the Commonwealth. The Programme was designed to be time limited and set out to discover 240 remarkable young people over four years who are changing lives in their communities, to receive an Award. We do not see this as the end, but just the beginning of an exciting journey for The Queen’s Young Leaders. They are part of unique, passionate and powerful group of young people from 53 Commonwealth countries, who can connect, collaborate and continue to change lives for years to come.


The Grants Programme

  1. Who was able to receive Grants?

Grants were available to selected organisations in six countries across the Commonwealth (Bangladesh; Jamaica; Sierra Leone; Solomon Islands; UK; and Zambia). Projects supported include those led by, or focused on, young people. They are providing opportunities for young people to learn new skills, enter employment or enterprise, or have a say in decisions affecting their future. Each project places young people at the heart of their communities, working with them to help solve the issues that affect their lives.


  1. What was the process for the Grants programme?

The Queen’s Young Leaders Grants Programme was a proactive scheme, and after a thorough and detailed scoping process, which included participative workshops with organisations, partners, businesses and stakeholders, we invited selected organisations to apply.

In addition, in each country we supported one organisation to run a fully open Small Grants Fire-Starter Initiative – to support smaller innovative youth-led organisations and groups.