About us

"Everybody has the capacity to be remarkable"

We empower people to create change in their communities and improve the lives of others.

We support social entrepreneurs: people who tackle social problems by starting, scaling and sustaining organisations. We help them impact urgent issues, such as poverty, health, education and the environment.

We help more than 1,000 leaders of social change every year through courses, connections and support. We develop their impact, networks, business skills and emotional resourcefulness. Our learning approach focuses on peer-support and taking action. We’re about sharing experiences rather than writing essays. We welcome people from all backgrounds and our community blossoms with diverse connections.

Michael Young founded School for Social Entrepreneurs in 1997 in London. Today, our network of 11 schools impacts communities across the UK, Canada and India. We support individuals on a learning journey, creating social change together.

To find out more about who we are and what we do, view our Activity Report.

How SSE creates change

SSE’s Theory of Change is based on what we do and what we enable. The blue circles illustrate what we do and what we think of as within SSE’s ‘sphere of control’. They show the activities SSE undertakes to support individuals on a learning journey and the outcomes that are achieved for the student and their organisation. The pink circles illustrate what we enable and what we think of as within SSE’s ‘sphere of influence’. They show the outcomes achieved by the student and their organisation for people and communities and how, by being part of the SSE community, we achieve social change together.

Download the Theory of Change here.

Our students

We mobilise the experience of enterprising people who have identified an unmet social need and support them to use entrepreneurial approaches to create a sustainable solution to address this issue. There is no typical student at School for Social Entrepreneurs. The people that attend our courses have ranged in age from 17 to 74 and come from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. At the SSE we believe that your passion for change is what matters most, not where you come from.

We support:1 in 4 SSE Fellows have lived experience of the issue they are tackling

  • social entrepreneurs who are looking to get a new idea off the ground
  • social entrepreneurs who want to grow or scale their impact
  • leaders of established social enterprises and charities, and their staff, who want to become more enterprising or develop skills in specialist areas

SSE is particularly keen to support innovative grassroots projects. We look for great ideas from people with first-hand experience of social issues because we believe personal experience builds a strong foundation of practical knowledge. You can read more about our inspiring students on our stories page.

Where we work

SSE was founded in East London in 1997 and has since grown to become a global network. SSE now has 12 schools across the UK, Canada and India, and reaches people even further afield than that.

Find your local school by visiting our locations page.

How we’re funded

School for Social Entrepreneurs is a registered charity. We work in partnership with individual philanthropists, grant giving trusts and foundations, corporates and other businesses, governments, and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.

Our partnerships help us to reach people with practical ideas for change, leverage a wide range of skills and experience to benefit our students, and provide vital funding to ensure people from all backgrounds are able to access our programmes and support.

We also generate income by trading and selling places on our specialist short courses and workshops.

We work collaboratively to create social change and welcome opportunities to work with additional partners to support our inspiring and growing community. Head to our ‘support us’ page to find out more.

Founder of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, Michael Young

Michael Young, Founder of SSE

“"Everybody has the capacity to be remarkable"”

More about Michael

Our history

The first ever cohort of SSE students in Bethnal Green with Michael Young

The first ever cohort of SSE students outside the Bethnal Green office

School for Social Entrepreneurs was founded in 1997 by Michael Young. The SSE was the last in the line of organisations created by the Institute of Community Studies (now the Young Foundation), a pioneering urban think tank.

The SSE was run from the Bethnal Green neighbourhood of East London and welcomed its first cohort of students in 1998.

In 1999 to 2000, after the success of the SSE’s innovative national programme, we determined our approach could work in other locations. We were awarded a £1million Millennium Awards Scheme that allowed 10 local programmes to be established across the UK.

In 2000, the SSE also helped lead the consortium which created UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, in order to provide start-up grants across the UK.

Over the past two decades the SSE has helped thousands of social entrepreneurs find success. In the years to come, we hope to support and inspire more people across the world.

Want to know more?

Organisations and funders – find out how you can support us.

Individuals – discover our courses.

You can also contact us.