In 2000, when the newspapers were full of articles about ‘hoodies’ and ‘apathetic youth’, four young friends rebelled.
They decided they’d had enough. Together these young people decided they wanted to create a change.
They believed that the negative view of young people could best be challenged through young people themselves setting a positive example to others. So, rather than just talk about it, they decided to do something about it.
Grouped in their HQ in a garden shed, they hatched a plan, little realising at the time what their idea would turn into.
They started with one simple step: an auction of promises which, thanks to friends, family and inspired community members raised £10,000. They spent very little and worked every hour. They realised that they would achieve more by galvanising others. Together they convinced five teams of young people to get involved and supported them to set up their own social action projects. Envision was born.
Over the next couple of years the programme spread across London, then in 2005 it set up in Birmingham.
People started to take notice. New Philanthropy Capital recommended Envision for its programmes that ‘even out inequalities facing disadvantaged young people’. The think-tank Demos said they had found ‘the recipe for nurturing engaged, involved citizens’. Envision was named as a finalist for the Best Education Project in the National Lottery Awards and then, in 2008, it won the Guardian Charity Awards for demonstrating innovation and excellence in its community reach.
Two years later Envision opened a new branch in Bristol. Shortly after, it appointed its first experienced CEO. She inherited a wide range of programmes and decided to consolidate the best parts of each into a single model.
The resulting programme, Community-Apprentice, which harnessed employee mentors and provided additional challenge through an interschool competition , was piloted in Birmingham in 2003.
It was subsequently rolled out to Bristol in 2014 and then London in 2015. In the same year, the results of a rigorous randomised control trial conclusively proved its impact on the development of young people.
Envision is now embarking on a new chapter: taking a proven model to a much larger number of schools and focusing resources on those who need it most.