YPI Scotland

“Fifteen years ago, we were a very young foundation with huge ambition, making our first grants and our first foray into the education space.

“When our trustees established The Wood Foundation, it was with a commitment to address social and economic inequity through systemic, transformational, sustainable, and scalable solutions.

“Those founding principles have remained unchanged. How we deliver upon those has evolved and grown, deepened and flourished.

“The Wood Foundation commitment has gone beyond simply funding. As a venture philanthropic, value-add partner, we share our time, expertise and network, act as a programme manager, a convenor, and develop solutions in collaboration with our partners.

“Rewind 15 years when the Foundation sought to invest in a programme which gave young people the chance to better understand their communities and have the chance to make a real difference. There was a gap in what was available to students in Scotland so YPI, an international programme, was adapted for our context.

“Today it is in 280 secondary schools and has empowered 310,000 young people in their stewardship of £6.8m unrestricted funding to local charities. And while many of the central tenets of the programme are the same, there has been significant change in how we engage with teachers and what we offer to ensure the investment is reaping maximum benefit and legacy for all participants.

“The learning from our experiences establishing, growing, and embedding YPI in Scotland has informed how we’ve moved forward as a foundation.

“A major lesson has been striking the right balance between stability and flexibility. For instance, RAiSE is a programme led by a permanent national officer but delivered by dedicated local officers to address their local context from within a consistent national framework.

“Our strong relationships with teachers and recognition of their role as changemakers supported the development of Global Learning Partnerships (GLP). The seminal McKinsey report of 2007 said ‘the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers’ and we fundamentally agree. Investing in both capacity and capability, building strong networks, and convening of partners occur throughout our programmes to ensure that the ultimate stakeholders, our young people, benefit from the most worthwhile experiences.

“Our most recent investment, Excelerate, brings all our learnings together as well as what we have learned from generous open-source partners.

“The deeper we have got into education the deeper our collaboration has become with stakeholders, co-designing and co-delivering activity. The allows recognition of the experiences we have developed as a team, as well as the value and power of the networks we have convened.

“For change to embed, we know it has to be a joint journey of discovery, openness, and honesty. We need to work collaboratively to ensure we are not introducing unsustainable additive change but working with our partners to invest in sustainable solutions that are laying the foundations for a long-term legacy.

“We have realised it’s ok, beneficial even, to be deeply involved in education as non-educators, offering a vital perspective. It’s hugely important to partner with those in the system and welcome the viewpoints of an array of stakeholders as we must all invest in some way in ensuring our young people can be a success today so they can drive the success of tomorrow.”