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ThinkForward’s 2019 highlights

 

As 2019 draws to a close we’d  like to share some of our best moments. A true highlight was the outcomes of the 131 young people in London and Nottingham who graduated from ThinkForward in the summer. They were the first group to experience our revised, more targeted programme. London students received the full five years while the Nottingham students had been with us since we began working in the city in 2016.

The fantastic news is that from what we know so far, over 8 in 10 are in education, training or employment three months after graduating. This is a huge achievement and a credit to the hard work of our young people. We’ll be following up with them again over the course of the next 12 months to track their progress.

Across all locations we have been supporting schools to deliver on their Gatsby 8 benchmarks. These are guidelines that define best practice careers provision and align with our own goals of equipping young people to be ready for the world of work. In Kent for example, our coaches ran a series of events marking National Careers Week in their schools. This is a fantastic way for us to extend our reach across whole school communities and benefit students who are not on the programme.

In Nottingham we took part in a series with the education correspondent at ITV News Central. He followed one of our students at Ellis Guilford School as she prepared for her GCSEs. We were all delighted that she achieved the results she needed to get a college place to study acting, and the five-part series was a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our work in the city.

We were thrilled to win at the National Mentoring Awards for our business mentoring programme. This was great recognition for the design of our programme and the commitment of the amazing volunteers who so generously give up their time, impart their experience and share some wise advice with our young people. We also made it onto the Social Mobility Awards roll of honour for our work enabling young people from less advantaged backgrounds to secure brighter futures.

 

The Office of National Statistics has published figures on young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), which showed that for July to September 2019 there were 800,000 young people (aged 16 to 24) who were NEET. Meanwhile, a report from Impetus highlights that disadvantaged young people are twice as likely to be long-term NEET as their better-off peers (21% compared to 10%) and are twice as likely to be NEET overall. The 2019 English indices of deprivation tell us that we are in communities where young people face significant economic hardship, often alongside other challenges.

All these factors remind us why our work is essential and that we wouldn’t be able to carry on without the strong support of our funders. In the year up to August 2019 we raised £1.68m in donations from individuals, businesses and grantmaking trusts – many thanks to everyone who contributed to this. In 2020 we will need further funding to support young people and to continue developing and strengthening our programme.

Our current strategy – which focuses on a period of consolidation – is drawing to an end, and in 2020 we will be embarking on our new five-year strategy.  Work has already begun on this process and we will be engaging with staff and stakeholders early in 2020 to inform our future direction. The new strategy will be ready by July 2020.

Finally, we end 2019 with three pieces of good news.  We signed our Social Impact Bond for the DFN-MoveForward programme with DFN Charitable Foundation and Big Issue Invest – this has now secured us match funding from the government’s Life Chances Fund.  The SIB will fund the delivery of the programme until at least August 2023. In Nottingham, one of our students won a Nottinghamshire Live Education Award. Montana was nominated by coach Donna at NUSA after improving her attendance at school and building her self-assurance. And our community of supporters helped us to exceed our target in  the Big Give Christmas Challenge. Thank you to everyone who donated to the campaign.

For anyone interested in fundraising for us next year we have some exciting opportunities to keep (or get!) fit with places available in half marathons, so we will be in touch with more information soon.

In the meantime, we’d like to wish everyone a happy and peaceful festive season and all the very best for the coming year.

 

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