In 2012, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) launched the £30 million Innovation Fund in order to support vulnerable young people at risk of becoming Not in Education, Training or Employment (NEET). The Fund marked a commitment to helping some of the most vulnerable young people in society overcome long term structural barriers preventing them from gaining qualifications and starting a career, and focussed specifically on payment by results programmes targeting 14–16 year olds most at risk.
The Energise programme and the Teens and Toddlers programme were two of the 10 Social Impact Bond projects delivered over the three years to Autumn 2015 to meet the Innovation Fund’s objectives. Both projects were aimed at supporting young people aged 14 to 16 who are at risk of becoming NEET over a three and a half year period. The Teens and Toddlers programme combined an 18-week intensive intervention with regular support through to GCSEs, while Energise comprised a combination of mentoring, structured activity days and residential courses in order to equip young people with the skills that would allow them to remain on track to age 18.
The projects marked a shift in governmental approach to at-risk youth: by intervening as early as age 14, the Innovation Fund was structured to prevent the likelihood of young people becoming NEET rather than support these individuals once they had already fallen out of employment, education or training. Following on from our previous ‘Year in Review’ publication, this document is intended to share our learnings and reflect on the successes of Energise and Teens and Toddlers programmes now that they have completed.