'Opening access to learning, knowledge and opportunity'

Leaders at Michael Young-founded organisations reflect on his legacy.

Young’s spirit lives on

‘He mixed the intellectual rigour of research with the entrepreneurial flair of business’

The Young Foundation Trustee, Mike Omoniyi, explains what being ‘Forever Young’ means to him.

‘He was a do-er; he got his hands dirty to make changes for the better’

Our Trustee Kate Hainsworth shares what the spirit of Michael Young means to her.

‘The driver of Michael’s innovation was often discontent’

Discontent can be a powerful force for good, if we choose to participate in generating new solutions, says Helen Goulden.

'Enough confidence to have a go'

Michael Young was a man of many missions. He created initiatives and iconic institutions that gave more power to people to shape a better, fairer future for themselves and for their communities.

That work is as vital now as it has ever been.

Celebrating The Young Foundation’s 70-year legacy, we’re working with other organisations Michael founded to show why and how we are ‘Forever Young’– and what that means for the challenges facing us today, and tomorrow.

Excerpt from a 1994 interview with our founder Michael Young by Jane Gabriel, Kate Gavron and Geoff Dench.

Young foundations: the essay collection

‘Take ‘no’ as a question’: seven habits for serial change-makers

Sir Geoff Mulgan, former CEO of The Young Foundation, remembers Michael Young and shares qualities he possessed that seem particularly relevant to the world more than a century after his birth. 

‘Building peace together’: a complex social endeavour

Nearly 40 years ago, Michael Young and his contemporaries sought to support peace around the world. Their vision is still core to International Alert – and our collective future, says Executive Director Nic Hailey CMG.

‘Stories not statistics’: the influence of Michael Young in today’s Britain

Alastair Wilson, CEO of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, says his institution, which Young founded in 1997, still transforms lives and communities around the world.

‘His values guide our future’: Michael and the Youngian vision of Social Research

Aspects of Michael Young’s vision, dating back to over half a century, feel urgently relevant today, says Stian Westlake, Executive Chair, ESRC.

‘Society has changed considerably’: Young’s u3a has matured

A child of its time, the ‘university’ Michael Young co-founded to be run by older people, for older people, has now hit middle age. By Dr Liz Thackray, Chair, Third Age Trust 

‘Disrupting the system’: how Young opened doors to higher education

Young founded the Open University as a ‘National Grid of Learning’, and it continues to enable access to higher education for learners across the UK, says Professor Josie Fraser, Deputy Vice-Chancellor. 

‘Inspiring individuals’: ensuring Young’s legacy lives on 

Established by Michael Young in 1963 as a not-for-profit distance learning provider, the National Extension College (NEC) continues to widen access to education for people of all ages. 

“Michael was – he is – my Guru, with the tone and construct of my career based very much on his beliefs and motives. I often quote his aside when, on a conference platform, an angry questioner cried ‘don’t you think you’re being a bit idealistic?’. ‘I do hope so’, murmured Michael.”

Eric Midwinter, associate of Michael Young and co-founder of the u3a.

Young ideas

Policy brief for our journey to net zero

This policy brief presents research findings and recommendations for how to ensure the UK’s transition to net zero leaves no one behind. It shares insights from a two-year programme of work, funded by the Nuffield Foundation..

Five ways a community-centred policy agenda could take us to a fairer future

This paper was submitted to the Labour Party’s National Policy Forum (NPF) Consultation in March 2023 on the topic of empowered communities.

Digital solutions: tech-powered responses to 21st century crises

This paper explores the potential to develop digital civic infrastructure to support our national growth and drive levelling up.


Community research

We are a not-for-profit tackling societal issues with a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach.

Contact our team

Social innovation

Involving people from diverse sectors to shape game-changing initiatives.

Find out more