The Black Lives Matter movement has reignited the long running issue of whether those who lead us are representative of the population. Currently there are no black cabinet ministers, 65% of the cabinet were educated privately compared to 7% of the population, and women are still less represented than men. These trends are reflected in leadership roles across the country, from business to politics. The reasons behind this lack of diversity start right from birth, and so the youth leadership organisation Uprising is aiming to open up these top offices to people who are less represented by giving people skills and experience from a young age.
In 2015 we published an evaluation of the Uprising Leadership Programme, showing how the programme was making a real difference in the young people who took part, and we looked at how the organisation can continue to improve.
Read the conclusion below, or the full report here.
UpRising has an ambitious vision for social change. The organisation seeks to equip its participants – recruited from diverse backgrounds – with the knowledge, networks, skills and confidence to be effective leaders and change makers in society. As more people from under-represented backgrounds ascend to positions of authority, leaders in the UK will better represent the country’s growing diversity.
Our evaluation of UpRising has sought to measure the outcomes of taking part in UpRising for participants over the short term, and to assess the programme’s medium- and potential longer-term impacts. This report has focused on the short-term outcomes of taking part in UpRising, supplementing our interim report published earlier this year, which looked at the medium and longer term. For this report we have measured changes according to UpRising’s theory of change – looking at four key ‘ingredients’ of success that UpRising attempts to develop in its participants: knowledge, networks, skills and confidence. We have also measured changes in UpRising participants’ political and democratic engagement around the May 2015 general election – another priority for the organisation. We have looked at a range of measures of interest to the Cabinet Office in the context of youth social action, including how participants score on wellbeing, cooperation, ‘grit’ and other measures. And this quantitative insight has been supplemented by the qualitative feedback on the programme from our focus group participants.
The findings presented in the preceding chapters show that the Leadership Programme appears to have led to significant positive outcomes in knowledge, networks, skills and confidence of the 2014/15 cohort. The average participant scored more positively – and by a statistically significant margin – on all survey questions relating to having knowledge, networks, skills and confidence, with more participants scoring positively on these measures after the programme than before. While the comparison group is very small, and differed in important ways from the participant group, substantially less change was observed in the comparison group over a similar time period.
The level of political and democratic engagement of Leadership Programme participants also increased over the course of the programme. They were more interested in politics afterwards, more likely to vote, more likely to feel they could effect change through being involved in politics, and more likely to use social media to engage with social and political causes. However, it is important to reiterate that it is unclear to what extent these outcomes can be attributed to the programme – particularly during an election year – as there were similar changes in the comparison group on the majority of measures.
UpRisers are clearly a motivated group of young people to begin with, who come to the programme feeling confident in many of their skills and attributes already. Participants scored themselves very highly at baseline on the measures we included from the Outcomes Framework for Youth Social Action – empathy, cooperation skills, grit and others – leaving less room for improvements on these measures. Leadership Programme participants made little to no improvement on the majority of these measures. The exceptions were for wellbeing and some measures of community engagement, where there were substantial improvements for Leadership Programme participants relative to the comparison group.
The evaluation in its entirety shows a positive picture for the impact UpRising is having in preparing its participants with the tools for success. Feedback from UpRisers in our focus groups suggested that many felt they had benefitted from their work with UpRising, often years after completing the programme. Many had taken the knowledge and skills learned and had found jobs where they were using them successfully and making a difference to their communities. At the same
time, a lot of uncertainty was expressed about the future and how to maximise the usefulness of what one learns through taking part in UpRising. It will be some time until the longer term impact of the Leadership Programme is known.
When asked how to improve the Leadership Programme, UpRisers we spoke to said they thought that the organisation must continue to do more to recruit participants from underrepresented backgrounds. In summary, they made the following recommendations for programme improvements.
- create further opportunities for participants to work with UpRisers from different regions
- build in more reflection time at the end of each knowledge session and each skills session
- introduce new sessions where social action groups in a region meet to discuss the progress of the projects
- provide additional help and guidance to some participants when matching them with a mentor
- ensure that UpRising alumni are used effectively across the regions to deliver the programme to new participants
Several of these recommendations would build on positive steps UpRising is already taking. UpRising should also continue to develop further its evaluation efforts – in particular seeking to increase its recruitment in order to make a more robust comparison group possible. This will enable the organisation to improve its impact measurement through better means of attribution, building on the positive results from our independent evaluation.