The Opportunity Fund – giving young people resources to explore and experiment! The Opportunity Fund sought to support young people (18-25) who were passionately campaigning for social change or had ideas for a social purpose enterprise, but did not have the resource or capacity to fully explore their potential – they couldn’t live rent free, take a gap year or rely on connections. But it took more than money – it needed time, connections, permission, and encouragement as well.
We learnt that as well as money, these young people needed:
Time – 18 months felt short for some young people, although it is still longer than most programmes
Connections – Funders need to open up their networks to young people
Permission – We all feel the need to succeed or win, young people needed reassurance that this was a genuine opportunity to explore and develop, with no pressure or expectation to deliver anything more
Encouragement – After all, everyone benefits from reassurance and praise, especially when for some this was their first experience of leadership
We learnt that no matter what the outcome of the campaign or business, the experience for each young person of having someone believe in you, and providing funding and support for a sustained period led to 100% increasing their aspirations for their life and work. Young people improved their quality of life, gained employability skills and 82% felt more able to influence and impact on others. The Opportunity Fund recognised that the personal journey has more value than simply the end destination for each young person. In our experience this allowed young people to step into their passions, dreams and lives, to experiment and to explore, to learn and to develop as individuals with a social purpose.