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The 401 Foundation was founded on the basic principle that local community projects are the backbone of a productive, forward thinking and kind society


Founded by Ben Smith; CEO and Founder of The 401 Foundation, in 2017 after accomplishing The 401 Challenge; which saw him run 401 marathons in 401 days all around the UK. During his travels, he visited over 309 different UK towns and cities between Lands End and John O’Groats. Running with over 13,500 people, visiting 101 schools and countless small community-based projects, in the end, raising over £330,000 for two anti-bullying and equality charities; Kidscape and Stonewall


The story was near enough the same everywhere he went, “We just don’t have the money to carry on”, “We only need a couple of hundred pounds to get our idea off the ground”, “The grant forms are just too complicated”, “Why can’t someone just take a chance on us, we know it will work”. He felt there was a missing link when it came to supporting local community projects to maintain the important and effective work they do, so he set about figuring out a way to change it.


Understandably and realistically, there are more projects out there than there is funding for. Bigger charities do amazing work, the impact they have is far-reaching, but this can sometimes mean that local community projects get overshadowed as the money pot is only so big. Ben and The 401 Foundation believe local projects are at the heart of their community, they know their people and ultimately what is going to work and what isn’t, one size doesn’t fit all especially when it comes to building confidence, self-esteem, tackling mental health and self-development issues.


Proving a return on investment when you are talking about confidence and self-esteem can be tricky as the effects are not always seen straight away, sometimes you never know what would have happened without investment.


The job of The 401 Foundation is simple, to give a small lifeline to hundreds of small community projects throughout the UK to ensure they carry on the amazing work they do to benefit their local communities. Our grants are small but sometimes this is all that is needed to get a concept off the ground and to most this will be the start they need.

We don’t think we have all the answers and we can guarantee, sometimes we will get it wrong. But we feel that we would rather try than not try at all.