In 1995, the late Lord Michael Young of Dartington (founder of the Open University and Which? magazine) commissioned two 18 year olds – one being
Rushanara Ali, now MP for Bethnal Green & Bow - to ask fellow
teenagers in Tower Hamlets what they thought of the opportunities
available to them over the summer. They found what young people really wanted were free, accessible
activities they could choose themselves that would help them develop and
get ahead in life.
From this research, Futureversity (then Tower Hamlets Summer University) was born, running its first ever summer programme in the borough. Soon nine other boroughs were piloting their own summer programmes and, over the next two years, other areas of the country followed suit. In 2006, the charity was commissioned by the government to replicate the model across London and by 2008 there was a summer programme running in all 32 London boroughs, providing over 50,000 course places annually.
The model of free, aspirational courses, delivered by experts and with young people at the core of planning, decision making and evaluations, has won awards, gained wide recognition and met local and national policies year on year. The charity has also built on its activities in Tower Hamlets to respond to the needs of young people with year-round activities, including employability programme Job Ready, accredited volunteer schemes, an Intern & Apprenticeship Programme and a youth magazine written by 16-25 year olds for their peers.
Rebranded as Futureversity in 2010, resources have been developed and a Partnership Agreement and Quality Assurance Framework created so that the programmes can be replicated anywhere in the country.