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I set up Future First around 5 years ago to build alumni networks in state schools across the country for the first time. When we launched, barely any non-selective state schools ran alumni networks. Today, the number is approaching 20% of all state schools and colleges nationally. Alumni are coming back into schools across the country as work experience providers, career role models, mentors, e-mentors, school governors, volunteers and donors. It’s amazing to see the amount of previously untapped community altruism that exists around every school and college.

I was invited to a Downing Street roundtable on changing the careers services in schools 5 years ago where I was told the model would never work in the kind of communities we were targeting because there were no role models and that everyone who graduated those schools were ‘NEETS and criminals’. I’ve really enjoyed proving that to be total bollocks.

This year, I’m helping launch a new charity, Future First International, to advise governments, school networks, school leaders and education NGOs globally on how to incorporate alumni networks into different education systems. We’d never have been able to do that without the vision and support of the Open Society Foundations who took our idea, thought bigger than we did, and helped us build the foundations to take it global. We published a report with them at the end of 2013 into alumni networks and their global presence and opportunity: http://futurefirst.org.uk/assets/Every-School-a-Community-Report.pdf

If you want to make a donation to Future First’s work, it’s always welcome at https://www.justgiving.com/cffn/