BFA partner Spirit Foundation deepens connection with Premier League club Everton

The Spirit Foundation, a cherished partner of the British Football Academy, is enhancing its collaboration with Premier League club Everton...

The Spirit Foundation, a cherished partner of the British Football Academy, is enhancing its collaboration with Premier League club Everton with a multi-year commitment to Everton in the Community and Everton Free School and Football College.

Commencing in July 2024, these new initiatives aim to make a lasting difference in disadvantaged communities across Merseyside, with a significant £2 million (R47 million) funding pledge over several years.

This groundbreaking agreement was recently formalised during a visit by Spirit founder, philanthropist and passionate Evertonian, Professor Ian Kilbride, who participated in one of Everton in the Community’s disability football sessions and toured the Spirit Library at Everton Free School.

A non-profit foundation founded by the Kilbride family in 1994, thus celebrating its 30th anniversary, The Spirit Foundation is a long-standing friend and supporter of both organisations, and will now financially support the charity’s 14 disability teams and, in addition, will provide funding to Everton Free School to improve literacy levels, as well as supporting marginalised students in its Football College.

“We have worked with both EitC and Everton Free School over many years, but it was the enthusiasm and vision of Sue Gregory, CEO of EitC, and Steven Baker OBE, CEO of The People’s Learning Trust  – of which Everton Free School and Football College is the founder -, that inspired us to join forces on two long term and quite unique projects.

“We are delighted to be the Official Partner of EitC’s disability teams and the literacy development programme within EFS and we know that the combined £2m funding will have a meaningful impact.  With our 30-year history of success in educational and community-based projects, the Spirit Foundation ( is perfectly placed to work even closer with EitC and EFS.”

– Ian Kilbride, Spirt Foundation Chairman and CEO.

Within Everton in the Community, the £1million funding will see the Spirit Foundation become an Official Supporter of the charity’s disability teams with the organisation’s logo featured on all training wear. The Foundation’s directors will also be involved and take an active interest in the programmes.

Established in 2000, Everton in the Community’s disability programme has fourteen disabled teams that represent Everton Football Club and its charitable arm, including pan-disability and impairment specific teams, amputee, Down Syndrome, U13, U16 and both adult male and female pan-disability teams.

“The Spirit Foundation and Ian Kilbride are long-standing supporters of our charity and its programmes. We are so appreciative that they have pledged their long-term commitment to our work through the sponsorship of our fourteen disability teams.

“These teams provide competitive footballing opportunities for children and adults, and we currently support more than 130 disabled footballers each year, some of whom also represent their country internationally. This funding will enable us to further develop our teams to ensure we are offering these opportunities to as many people as possible.”

– Sue Gregory, Chief Executive Officer for Everton in the Community.

In addition, the Spirit Foundation will also become an Official Supporter of Everton Free School and Football College, with an additional £1m funding being provided to improve literacy via individualised literacy programmes for each student, as well as supporting young adults with educational needs in its Football College.

“Professor Ian Kilbride has been an ongoing supporter of Everton Free School and Football College since its inception 12 years ago. His philanthropy enabled the development of our school library, helping us to achieve fantastic outcomes for the students in our care. The Spirit Foundation’s ongoing support for our school is testimony to its commitment to tackle disadvantage for children and young people in Merseyside, who often face daily challenges in their lives.”

– Principal of Everton Free School, Claire Lamontagne

Steven Baker OBE, CEO of The People’s Learning Trust, added:

“I am incredibly proud of the partnership that we have forged with The Spirit Foundation.  Professor Kilbride has been a key supporter of Everton Free School and Football College for a number of years, helping us to tackle disadvantage and raise literacy outcomes for our students.  This generous donation to the trust will allow us to continue our innovative work and research, and support even more children and young people across the region.”


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