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Trusteeship: Being an ambassador for your charity

1 November 2011

One of my roles as a Charity Trustee is to be an ambassador for IntoUniversity, supporting the public reputation of the charity, extending networks of influence, telling the charity’s story and explaining the value of its work with disadvantaged young people in some of Britain’s toughest neighbourhoods.

IntoUniversity is a cause close to my heart, and talking about its work comes very naturally.  But it is a non-stop job, and I find myself in daily conversations with friends and colleagues about the charity.

We are lucky at IntoUniversity to have a very strong story of social entrepreneurship and successful growth (we have grown 800% since 2007) and some impressive results (70% of our 18 year olds attained a university place last year).

But I am always looking for new ways to communicate not only the facts about the charity’s impact, but to capture in a nutshell the value of the work.

IntoUniversity’s work hinges on the perception of the value of Higher Education and in the past few years, as perhaps never before, the value of a university degree has come under scrutiny.   The government is encouraging students to think about the value of a degree in terms of a graduate’s future earnings potential.   Other voices have suggested that there is greater value for some students in following apprenticeships.

At IntoUniversity we remain staunchly – and perhaps slightly unfashionably – convinced of the value of Higher Education in enabling social mobility.  A university degree can be a life-changing asset for a young person from a disadvantaged background, opening up an otherwise closed world of professional careers.

Research by The Resolution Foundation has shown that ‘individuals that held less than graduate-level qualifications were significantly less likely to experience upwards mobility and more likely to move down the earnings ladder compared to those who held a degree.’

This impact cascades through the generations, because the children of graduates are much more likely to be graduates.

So in my various conversations, socially and with my business colleagues, I am trying to underscore this vital point: a university degree has a value beyond increased life earnings, it can change not only your own life-chances but those of the next generation.

This is the second of a series of blogs to mark Trustees’ Week, an annual event to showcase the great work that trustees do and highlight opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference. You can find out more about Trustees’ Week and about becoming a trustee here.