The Young Academy shortlisted for Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards 2016

Date: 4 August 2016

The Young Foundation’s Young Academy is one of the initiatives shortlisted for one of this year’s Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards. Designed to recognise excellence in companies’ Corporate Community Involvement that benefits Greater London, the Young Academy, which tackles educational inequalities, has been recognised as a best practice model in the Future Proofing Charities category. The scheme is a partnership with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS, whose staff volunteers deploy their expertise and skills to strengthen talent, systems and processes within the Young Academy’s social organisations.

The Young Academy aims to reduce the attainment gap by growing social ventures with innovative solutions in education via an incubator and investment programme. The social entrepreneurs participate in a four-month curriculum of specialist workshops and receive expert support from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS volunteers to help develop their organisational robustness and sustainability. The programme also offers ventures the opportunity to pitch for funding from a range of funders, including the Young Academy’s own investment fund, to scale their ideas and increase their social impact.

Volunteers from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS mentor and provide financial coaching to ventures participating in the Young Academy. Mentors are senior managers who provide one-to-one guidance to entrepreneurs in areas such as strategy and leadership. Financial coaches provide one-to-one support to entrepreneurs with financial modelling and preparing pitches for funding. In addition, Bank of America Merrill Lynch volunteers have participated in the process of selecting ventures for the incubator programme and UBS volunteers sit on the investment committee of the fund.

The highly skilled nature of the volunteer engagement and their long-term involvement is a particularly high-impact model that supports social enterprise sustainability and scaling. Graduates of the Young Foundation’s accelerator and incubator programmes typically exceed average survival rates for early-stage ventures. Participants of the early Young Academy cohorts have secured substantial amounts of funding post-programme and in 2015 worked with over 120,000 young people and 8,000 teachers. Several Young Academy ventures are gaining traction on a significant scale, including ADA, National College for Digital Skills, which secured £18m of government funding earlier in 2016.

Carl Dawson, founder and CEO of venture Proversity, said, “Over the course of five meetings with our mentor and our financial coach we moved from a sense check to submitting a full business plan for investment. Our financial coach built a machine-like spreadsheet with complex formulae which has revolutionized our ability to monitor, plan and communicate our progress. We couldn’t have done it in house – we didn’t have the skills or capacity at the time.”

One financial coach said, “The impact of this volunteering on me is difficult to overstate. It has given me an incredible opportunity to make a positive difference to the educational outcomes of thousands of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. In itself, that’s a great thing. As well as the altruistic benefit, what I wouldn’t have expected is that it has improved my core finance skills.”

Since its launch in 2014, the Young Academy and its partners have supported over 40 social ventures working in education. Applications are now open for the next programme, which will serve Medway, Kent and the South East.

To find out more, visit and or follow @YF_Academy and @Dragon_Awards.

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