Future First was launched in an inner city London all boys comprehensive school in 2009. Since then, and with UK government backing, the model has gone nationwide. When we started, less than 1% of standard public secondary schools in the UK maintained alumni networks, today that figure is over 20%. Over the last couple of years programmes have been launched in Kenya and the USA.
In 2013 we carried out a nine-country research study to determine the potential of building high school alumni communities in all regions around the world. The results showed a significant untapped resource and a high level of enthusiasm for the idea across ministries of education, teachers and students. The data from the research and overviews of each country findings are available here.
In partnership with the African Centre for Women’s Information and Communications Technology, Future First launched a pilot across 12 publicly funded Nairobi schools in 2012. Former students of Kenyan high schools are very willing to give back to their old school; it’s just that they haven’t been asked. Our research shows that 90% of adults in Nairobi would be ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ to go back to their old school if asked but less than 1% actually have. We’re making this happen.
Future First UK is working with more than 400 schools and colleges across the country on the ground to help them to build and harness the support of former student networks, both by maintaining contact with leavers and reconnecting with more distant graduates. Over the past couple of years, alumni involvement has taken the form of in-lesson support, workshops, work experience, longer-term mentoring and even representation on governing bodies. Almost 80% of attendees of Future First events want to work harder as a result of them. We aim to be in 25%+ of schools and colleges by 2017.
In Autumn 2013 we launched in 5 public high schools in Connecticut, the state in the USA with the highest level of income disparity, through a franchising model. The Guest Speaker Program allows public high schools to connect alumni and students both virtually and through direct service for graduation ceremonies, assemblies and other events. Our programs are unique because we work closely with alumni and high schools to ensure all alumni speeches and accompanying curricula focus on bettering student college and career readiness and broadening student awareness on post-secondary choices.