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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 33 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 to respond to the needs of young people with year-round activities.

Rebranded as Futureversity in 2010, we are still based in Tower Hamlets but run courses across London.


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