As 2018 draws to a close we’re taking the opportunity to look back on some ThinkForward highlights.

We continue to reach the most disengaged young people

876 young people in London, Nottingham and Kent were able to receive personalised support from a coach. In each region we celebrated young people’s achievements at events that brought together the partners who make our work possible. In London and Nottingham, awards ceremonies recognised young people who had travelled the furthest in terms of their progress and their ability to inspire others to engage in the programme. In Kent over ten young people were able to present their stories at a thank you event, after just one year of support from their coaches.

Connor from Strood Academy said: ‘My coach went through different jobs with me and he improved my knowledge about my career path and where I wanted that to lead. Now I know what sort of job I want to do and how to get there. I couldn’t have done that without my coach.’

Our new programme DFN-MoveForward is growing

The DFN-MoveForward programme working with young people with mild to moderate learning disabilities, successfully concluded its pilot year and also expanded into three schools in the West Midlands with five years of funding from a Social Impact Bond supported by the Government’s Life Chances Fund. The pilot evaluation told us that of the schools who said they use other external providers, in some cases more than thirty others, they all ranked DFN-MoveForward as their number one, a great endorsement of our first year.

Our young people benefited from tailored employability experiences

In all our regions we ran a packed and wide-ranging summer programme of employability activities with employer partners including Waitrose, Kirkland & Ellis, Toni & Guy, Cook and KPMG. Every event was designed to meet the future career interests of our young people.

We diversified and grew our donor base

In 2018 we forged new strategic funding partnerships including the London Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund and Big Lottery. ThinkForward is grateful to continue working with other strategic partners including the Epic Foundation, Impetus-PEF and the Kent Community Foundation.

We raised our profile

2018 was also an important year for influencing government and raising our profile. We had evidence published in three separate enquiries covering social mobility, the importance of evidence based early intervention and participation in culture and sport for preparing for employment. We were thrilled to win our first prestigious award – The City of London Dragon Award – recognising the success of our partnership with an alternative provision school in Tower Hamlets and asset management firm, ICG. ThinkForward also won highly commended in UK Youth’s Youth Organisation of the Year. We featured on TV, with our coach at Ellis Guilford in Nottingham taking part in a series on ITV’s Central Tonight which follows her student Morgan’s journey on ThinkForward. You can find out more about it here.

ThinkForward made an important appointment recruiting our new CEO, Ashley McCaul, who started in November. She’s a strong supporter of social mobility and has held senior positions in the not-for-profit and education sectors for more than 20 years. For the last 13 years she led the charity, London Skills for Growth, a post-16 education provider with bases across east and south east London. 

As we establish ourselves in four regions delivering two programmes Ashley will lead ThinkForward’s growth for the future. She said: ‘I am struck by the range of what has been achieved throughout 2018. None of that would have been possible without the incredible support we get from our funders, business partners and schools. I’m relishing the opportunity to lead ThinkForward into a new and action-packed 2019.’

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