YPI Scotland

Jonathan Christie joined The Wood Foundation in 2011 to lead our YPI Scotland programme. As he prepares to move on from The Wood Foundation for the next chapter of his career, he reflects on a decade of growth, impact, and innovation across our body of work.

“The Wood Foundation has been a significant part of my life for almost a decade; inextricably linked to my sense of purpose and identity. It has so often, perhaps too often, been the first thing I thought about in the morning or the last thing on my mind as I fell asleep at night. It is a place where I have grown, listened, learned, and challenged. It is a place where I have had the privilege of playing a central role curating an important body of work, with a special team and culture to match.

“In the early days, it was our clarity of ambition that I remember so vividly. During time spent with Sir Ian Wood or Ali MacLachlan, there was an exhilarating mix of alignment and friction wrapped up in one. With a driving focus on developing young people in Scotland, it was invigorating to have the space and latitude to do things differently; to look at systems and inequalities from alternate perspectives; to explore the gap between policy and practice.

“We had a clear ambition to conceive, develop, and push forward activity we knew had relevance, but needed bravery and energy to bring to fruition. My goodness we have worked hard to deliver on that ambition, and it is so rewarding to look back and recognise that we achieved far more than we ever thought possible.

“To this day, YPI remains an unparalleled programme in terms of amplifying youth voice, empowering youth action, and enabling authentic youth-led grant making. The fact this programme has grown to become the largest independent education programme being delivered in Scottish secondary schools, having engaged more than 200,000 young people, stewarding £4.5m of charitable giving to local communities, is a fact of which I will forever remain immeasurably proud.

“Likewise, our broader programme of activity and grant making, centred on diverse themes including STEM, pedagogical development, global learning, and wellbeing, has developed so much, delivering vital outcomes for young people in Scotland. It has been a life’s privilege to work alongside a team of such character and spirit driving forward this work. Equally, nurturing partnerships with likeminded organisations and peers, creating lasting friendships, delivering on shared aims, has been a joy.

“The energy, innovation, and commitment of Scotland’s third sector, the grant making fraternity therein, alongside the strength of community that I have come to know so well will remain a defining memory of my time at The Wood Foundation.

“Are there nerves about moving on? Is there sadness? Absolutely. Is there doubt? No. Adventure is good. Keeping a step outwith your comfort zone is important. The time for a new and altogether different philanthropic project, underpinned by an exciting theory of change, is right.

“I will not be a stranger to The Wood Foundation team. Albeit from afar, I will remain a champion of their work, honoured to have been in the thick of it over these last ten years, and a cheerleader for the continued role of #generationchange in our society.”

Ali MacLachlan, UK Director at The Wood Foundation, added:

“Jonathan has played a significant role in the growth and evolution of The Wood Foundation across Scotland.

“Over the last decade Jonathan has brought rigour, commitment, and unwavering conviction in the power of Scotland’s young people, and our organisational capacity to leverage the systemic impacts that we seek. He has exemplified and led by our values of integrity, innovation, responsibility, and respect.

“As a professional peer, force for change, team player, and friend, we will miss him, while feeling great pride and excitement for the next chapter of his career.

“With change, however, always comes opportunity. We are also looking forward to all that lies ahead, and the raft of opportunity this forthcoming change affords us. We are in the process of appointing a YPI Director to bring fresh perspective and experience to the strategic direction for the programme, and for The Wood Foundation, as we navigate into our next exciting phase.”