Generation Change is a movement to promote high quality youth social action programmes.
We are founded and led by an independent partnership of charities that together help over 600,000 young people each year to take part in social action. Our shared mission is to transform the status of social action in society. We do this by empowering youth programmes to evidence and improve their impact on young volunteers and the causes they address. Read about our approach to impact.
The Changemaker Generation
This is the first generation expected to be poorer than their parents. Young people today are growing up in a rapidly changing economy, and a society experiencing rising levels of inequality and social division.
Over 850,000 young people in the UK are currently not in education, employment or training. With the nature of work changing more rapidly than our education system, we risk creating a lost generation, for whom the transition to adulthood is defined by poor preparation for the world of work and increased levels of anxiety and isolation.
Young people have much more to offer society than they are given credit for. Research shows that this generation are more concerned about social problems and willing to volunteer than their parents were.
Social action helps to connect young people’s enthusiasm and interests to the problems that their communities face. This can give every young person a rewarding job to do - acting as a powerful form of work and life experience.
The evidence shows that young people who take part in structured social action programmes are more successful in interviews and in tests of skills that employers seek most, like teamwork, problem solving and empathy. The best social action programmes also make a significant impact in an area of social need, such as reducing the attainment gap in schools, or tackling severe mental health problems, or bringing communities together to improve social cohesion.
We believe the UK should be tapping into this generation’s desire to do good by giving every young person a high quality opportunity to address social need in the places where they live.
By doing so, we could mobilise an untapped resource for tackling the problems our communities face in the here and now. And at the same time we can support young people to thrive and develop the skills they will need as adults.
In the UK, hundreds of charities and social enterprises seek to recruit young people into social action and support them to make an impact. These programmes can start as young as the age of 5 and span all the way up until 25 and into adulthood. They happen inside and outside of school or college.
Our vision is for social action to be woven into every stage of growing up in the UK as a high status activity recognised and valued by colleges, universities, and employers. None of us can make this vision happen on our own - that's why we have to work together to create an entire generation of changemakers, activists and social leaders.
Generation Change was created out of a recognition that, when delivered well, youth social action can transform the lives of those who take part. But it has been difficult to define what good looks like.
Working with research and delivery partners, we have created a rigorous impact framework to help us define and identify best practice in youth social action. This will help us to encourage best practice and recognise the programmes that are really making the greatest impact for young people and communities.
Certified Impact Partners of Generation Change have committed to applying this framework to their programmes. Here are some of the key principles:
Our Impact Partners seek to create a "double benefit" -
they offer activities that create positive outcomes for both the young person taking part, and the community, cause or issue that they give their time to. Generation Change is solely focused on social action activities that make a significant difference in both cases.
Impact Partners are committed to capturing evidence about their outcomes in order to know whether or not their activities are making a difference. Generation Change believes that we have to live up to the promise we make to young people when they choose to take part in social action - that they can really make a difference - by being serious about understanding our impact.
Improving, rather than proving
Our Impact partners have found that being evidence-led can sometimes create a culture of trying to "prove" success, without really reflecting on what the evidence tells us. We believe that using evidence well requires a process of continual testing, learning and improving over time.
Impact Partners know that “quality” means always looking to improve, not resting on your laurels. We believe that the best social action programmes will always strive to enhance what they do by learning from what worked and what didn’t.
Impact at scale
Our Impact Partners know that what makes a difference on a small scale might not have the same effect when done by large numbers of people - it might be hard to replicate, or the activities might rely heavily on the skills and passion of the people most affected. We believe that social action programmes needs to consider factors of scale, and seek to reach large numbers of people over time.
David Reed is our Director, having helped to incubate the organisation since 2013. As Director, David's role is to oversee the implementation of our partnership strategy, and to support the overall development of Generation Change, both as a collaborative movement of partners, and as an independent charity. Prior to Generation Change, David worked in Sure Start, developing local children's services, and graduated from the University of Warwick with first class honours in English. Whilst at Warwick he co-founded Warwick Hub, a branch of the national charity Student Hubs, and volunteered as Projects Manager, supporting student social action projects and campaigns. He was also the Campaigns Coordinator for his Students’ Union, and organised the first student-led conference on higher education. He has written for the Times, the Times Higher Education supplement, the Guardian, and the Huffington Post. ,
Sonia Sodha is Strategic Adviser to Generation Change, and has helped guide our overall strategy, and the development of key initiatives for achieving systems change in the sector. Sonia is the Chief Leader Writer for the Observer, a policy consultant and freelance journalist. She has produced Radio 4 Analysis programmes, and regularly appears as a commentator on Sky News. She is a former head of public services and consumer rights policy at Which?, the Consumers’ Association, where she led their work on public services. Prior to this, she was a Senior Policy Adviser to Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, the Leader of the Opposition. She has also worked as Head of Policy and Strategy at the Dartington Social Research Unit and led programmes of work on public services, education, children and families at the think tanks Demos and the Institute for Public Policy Research. Sonia is a Trustee of the youth charity City Year and Vice Chair of Governors at Griffin Primary School in Wandsworth.,
Chair of Generation Change,
Co-founder and joint CEO for 16 years of youth-led creative network Livity, Sam has recently taken a step back from the hands-on running of Livity, becoming its Chief Purpose Officer, focused on growing opportunities for social impact across the organisation.
Sam is an influential figure in the fields of marketing and social enterprise, making regular media appearances on The Politics Show, Sky News, Financial Times, and Radio 4. Sam has been acknowledged as one of the Top 5 of 50 New Radicals by The Observer and was awarded the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the year Award.
Sam is a trustee for the Ernst & Young Foundation, and sits on the board for NESTA and The Cabinet Office’s £15m Social Action and Innovation investment fund. He is also mentor to dozens of young entrepreneurs. Sam’s first book, ‘Be more pirate: a 21st Century survival guide for young leaders’, is due to be published in March 2018.,
Trustee of Generation Change,
Chief Executive of City Year UK
Sophie co-founded Generation Change in 2013 and has led the organisation as its Co-Chair since then. In this role she has represented the youth social action sector on the Steering Committee of HRH Prince of Wales’ #iwill campaign.
Sophie has been the Chief Executive of City Year UK since November 2009, when the organisation was first set up in London – during which time she has overseen its incubation in the UK and expansion to the West Midlands and Greater Manchester. While she was Deputy Chief Executive of the Private Equity Foundation, Sophie was introduced to City Year and led efforts to bring the organisation to the UK, raising initial funding and building a range of stakeholder support for City Year’s model of full time service.
In July 2011, Sophie was named in Management Today’s ’35 women under 35 list’ and in 2016 received the Mayor’s Fund for London Individual Award for ‘outstanding achievement and lasting impact in tackling the skills and employment agenda for young Londoners from disadvantaged backgrounds’. She was recently listed in the Debrett’s 500 List of top Philanthropists and Activists.,
Trustee of Generation Change,
CEO at the Diana Award
Tessy Ojo is the Chief Executive of The Diana Award – the only charity that bears the name of Diana, Princess of Wales. The charity benefits from the support of The Royal Highnesses, Prince William and Prince Harry, as well as the UK Prime Minister as a Patron.
Tessy is an inspirational speaker and regularly consults and comments on issues around youth participation, charity growth, diversity, women in leadership and other social issues affecting young people. Prior to joining The Diana Award, Tessy worked in the corporate sector for over 10 years and helped to implement the robust operational planning systems for IBM UK, Borders UK and more.
Today, alongside leading The Diana Award, Tessy is on the boards of two charities and sits on the governing board of a chain of academies in London. Tessy is a recipient of various Awards recognizing her outstanding contribution to the wellbeing of young people including an Excellence Award from Eva Longoria’s Global Gift Foundation. ,
Trustee of Generation Change,
CEO of Envision
Jennie is a co-founder of Generation Change and Chief Executive of the charity Envision. In a ‘previous life’ Jennie was a Director of Policy and Public Affairs for a large national youth charity, Fairbridge, and has led on a wide range of policy issues seeking to benefit the most disadvantaged young people in our society. Jennie was on the original group convened by David Cameron to develop the concept of a National Citizen Service.
Prior to this, Jennie had 12 years experience of working in alternative education. She previously developed a programme to engage pupils from 50 schools in setting up community orchards, and secured over £1 million to get it started. She has also led several in-school youth empowerment programmes, including a £6 million project to enable young people to enhance their school grounds.
Jennie has a wider experience of community volunteering. Her recruitment campaign to revitalise the image of volunteering for Women’s Voluntary Service won the Institute of Public Relations Sword of Excellence (the first time it was awarded to a charity against stiff competition from the commercial sector).,
Trustee of Generation Change,
CEO of The NCS Trust
Michael Lynas is Chief Executive of the NCS Trust, the independent body that delivers National Citizen Service (NCS). Michael joined NCS in 2013 from 10 Downing Street where he led on the establishment of National Citizen Service within government.
Michael spent two and a half years as Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister where his main work was on civil society, culture and philanthropy. In addition to introducing National Citizen Service, during his time at No.10 he also focussed on increasing rates of giving time and money by making volunteering more engaging and exploiting new technologies; growing levels of social investment including through the world’s first social investment bank, Big Society Capital; and increasing engagement and social capital in local neighbourhoods. He also co-ordinated No.10’s Olympic 2012 policy work.
Michael has previously worked as a strategy consultant for Bain and Company. He has an MA in politics from Cambridge University, and a Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School at Harvard.,
Trustee of Generation Change,
Chief Executive of Toast
A co-founder of Generation Change, Rob is a serial social entrepreneur, currently the Director of Toast Ale, one of the UK’s fastest growing social enterprises.
In 2004 Rob founded READ International, a charity that has sent over 1 million books to East Africa and refurbished over 100 libraries. READ has won Charity Times and Institute of Fundraising awards, and Rob continues to support the organisation as the Chair of its board of trustees. In 2008 Rob acted as a founding director of an IT social enterprise called NOPC, which provides affordable, low power, low maintenance, and sustainable computing technology to the next billion.
Rob later joined Ashoka in 2011, firstly as an Entrepreneur in Residence, and then became its Director in the UK. Whilst leading Ashoka UK, Rob co-founded Generation Change and has been a trustee of the organisation since then, helping to lead our start-up phase. He also co-founded and advises Undivided, a youth-led campaign to inform the Brexit negotiations with the demands of young people. ,
Director of the Service Design Lab,
Dartington Social Research Unit
Tim has spent over a decade working with numerous public systems, charities and foundations to help shape a series of bold investments and experiments designed to improve child outcomes. He is passionate about fusing science-based and user-centred design approaches to system reform and service design. Tim joined the Dartington Social Research Unit as a researcher in 2004, later becoming Head of Data and Analytics. He was appointed as the first Director of the Dartington Service Design Lab in April 2017. He is a 2016 Clore Social Fellow.,
Service Design Specialist,
Dartington Social Research Unit
Keira led the research and validation of Generation Change's pilot programme to develop the Impact Accelerator, where she worked closely with our 6 pilot organisations to guide the improvement of the service design. Keira joined the Dartington Social Research Unit after completing a PhD in HIV and Palliative care in Kings College London, where she won the Elsevier award for outstanding doctoral thesis. She holds a BSc in Nursing Science and a Masters in Public Health Nutrition. She previously worked as a paediatric nurse in the NHS in London and internationally as a nurse-nutritionist for Action Against Hunger.,
System Design Specialist,
Dartington Social Research Unit
Vicky worked closely with Keira on Generation Change's pilot programme to validate the evidence submitted in stage 1 by our pilot organisations. She joined the Dartington Social Research Unit in 2012 as a researcher, after completing a Masters in Psychology of Education with Distinction at the Institute of Education, UCL. She subsequently worked in an associate capacity before taking up the position of System Design Specialist in the Lab in April 2017.,
Organisations that successfully take part in our Impact Accelerator, and meet our awarding criteria, become an Impact Partner of Generation Change.
Impact Partners are recognised for their deep rooted commitment to learning and improvement in the field of youth social action. All Impact Partners are committed to generating evidence to better understand their impact and to building up our understanding of best practice in youth social action.
- have a commitment to improvement
- deliver double benefit outcomes
- have some essential areas of strength in their programme design
The Impact Accelerator is designed as a rigorous pathway of improvement for organisations that are focused on delivering youth social action opportunities. Many youth organisations will have a different focus and therefore this might not be the right scheme for them.
Any charitable organisation, of any size, that offers youth social action will be eligible to take part. Small charities are likely to benefit most from the training and capacity building that the scheme provides. However, for very small community groups, or early stage organisations, an intensive approach might not be best, and for this reason we would suggest they use our Insights Hub and free online resources, and join Generation Change in other ways.
To take part in the Accelerator, organisations must:
- Be an incorporated organisation that has a social purpose clause in its articles of association – i.e. a charity, CIC, B-Corporation, or other social enterprise. We do accept non charities, but in these cases, social impact must clearly be the overriding purpose of your organisation.
- Be seeking to achieve at least two of the “double benefit” outcomes listed in our outcomes charter.
- Deliver a programme of activities for young people which involves social action – i.e. activities that have a double benefit to young people and their communities – and which can articulate the 6 principles of youth social action.
- Have already delivered some version of this programme of activities at least once (including current delivery)
- Demonstrate a clear plan for the sustainability of this programme for at least 12 months after the start date of the accelerator.
- Have capacity for organisational learning and staff involvement in the scheme. NOTE: for very small community groups, or early stage organisations, we would advise looking at Ambition’s Quality Mark instead.
- Have demonstrated a prior commitment to ensuring quality of service, and have a belief in the importance of evidence for informing service design.
- Demonstrate and maintain support at the Chief Executive (or most senior officer) level. We also encourage Trustees / board members to be aware of the aims of the Impact Accelerator.
- Assign a Project Lead within the organisation that has authority for implementing changes to programme delivery, and commit staff time to completing the process. The time commitment of the Project Lead is estimated to be approximately 5 hours per month.
- Encourage wider participation in the scheme from staff, and support all staff to be aware of, and implement changes to your delivery based on progress in the Accelerator.
- Share relevant evidence, programme manuals, and assessments with Generation Change and Dartington Social Research Unit in confidence.
- Be willing to disseminate further learning, insights and evidence publicly to build up a shared understanding about best practice.
- Collaborate with other Impact Partners of Generation Change – for example, sharing information (when appropriate), working together, identifying areas for joint delivery, etc.
The Impact Accelerator lasts for 12 months. During this period your organisation will be able to become recognised as an Impact Partner provided you meet our eligibility criteria.
As an Impact Partner of Generation Change, you will be able to use our Impact Partner badge in communications, and benefit from our membership services, which includes support to connect and collaborate with other Impact Partners, and invitations to attend our leadership Forum meetings.
We also require all Impact Partners to update their Impact Framework assessment at least once every 3 years in order to keep up our focus on improvement, and this will be supported by peer review and critical challenge from Generation Change. Impact Partners will have access to independent validation and consultancy from our research partners at a discounted rate.
Organisations joining the Impact Accelerator contribute towards the costs of the scheme. Each year, Generation Change matches this contribution with funding to significantly reduce the cost, usually halving the cost. We also have agreements in place from some Trusts and Foundations to accept funding applications which include the cost of taking part in the Impact Accelerator.
Please get in touch to find out more about funding options for your organisation.
Yes! You can access our Insights Hub – which is a collection of best practice, helpful guides, and thought leadership about the latest evidence and learning in youth social action.
You can also use Horizon – our online mapping tool. And you can stay in touch with our wider community by joining our monthly newsletter. Sign up at the bottom of this page!
Generation Change has worked closely with the #iwill campaign since before their launch in 2013 to help guide the campaign strategy and contribute to the achieving the 2020 goal. We are close collaborators on numerous projects such as Horizon, and governance working groups of the campaign.
Generation Change is an independent partnership of delivery organisations, whilst Step Up To Serve, which leads the #iwill campaign, is a time-bound, cross sector initiative set up by HRH The Prince of Wales.
Where We Are
Get in touch to ask us a question, find out more, or apply to become an accredited Generation Change Impact Partner.