In 2013, The Cabinet Office Centre for Social Action and the Education Endowment Foundation invited applications from organisations working with young people in Birmingham, Kent, Middlesbrough and Lancashire to receive grants from a £5 million Youth Social Action Fund. 28 organisations were given funding through the programme, working across the country on a diverse range of social action projects targeted at young people in a variety of settings.
The Fund was envisaged as an opportunity to capture high quality data on the extent to which participating in social action initiatives helps to prepare young people for adulthood and, specifically, work. To this end, the Behavioural Insights Team was commissioned to conduct the evaluation of the programme, with a focus on key skills for adulthood and employment.
Using rigorous evaluation techniques and drawing on a mature field of research linking specific character measures to hard outcomes, such as employability, we are able to demonstrate that – for those programmes we have evaluated – investment in social action leads to benefits for young people taking part as well as for the intended beneficiaries.