About us

"Everybody has the capacity to be remarkable"

What we do

At the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) we empower people from all backgrounds to create positive social change.  Our courses help individuals start, sustain, and scale social enterprises, charities and community projects. We’ll help you build confidence and gain practical business skills in technical areas like marketing and finance.

We’re committed to jargon-free learning delivered by experienced professionals. SSE uses an innovative learning approach, which focuses on real world issues and practices. We also provide courses aimed at established not-for-profits, covering common issues in the charity sector. Whatever stage you’re at in your organisation, we’ll provide expert support to advance your social enterprise.

So far we’ve helped over 1,500 social entrepreneurs make the world a better place. Come and join in!

Our students

There is no typical student at the 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.

The SSE aims 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.

Waffling on customers

School for Social Entrepreneurs student Frank Lyford poses with the beneficiaries of his social enterprise ‘Waffling On’


Vision, mission, & values

Our vision is of a society which empowers entrepreneurs to make positive social and environmental changes.

Our mission is to address inequalities and social exclusion by supporting social entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. At the SSE we work to transform our students’ talent into real social and environmental outcomes. Social entrepreneurs who study with us create sustainable solutions to poverty and disadvantage in communities.

Our core values in all aspects of work are integrity, inclusivity, and empowerment. The SSE delivers results-focused training, inspiring students from all backgrounds to succeed.

Where we work

The SSE was founded in East London in 1997 and has since grown to become a global network. The SSE now operates in 12 locations across the UK and has schools in Ireland, Canada and Australia. We are continuing to build international relationships, with exciting plans to open in India in 2015.

The SSE uses a social franchise model which helps keep our focus on grassroots movements. All of our schools are operated by local people who understand the regional context for social entrepreneurs.

Find your local school by visiting our locations page.

How we’re funded

The School for Social Entrepreneurs is a registered charity (1085465).  We work in partnership with individual philanthropists, trusts, foundations, and corporates. These partnerships provide funding to ensure fees are not a barrier to social entrepreneurs who want to attend our courses.

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

Michael Young founder of the School for Social Entrepreneurs

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

The 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 over 1,500 social entrepreneurs find success. In the years to come, we hope to support and inspire more people across the world.


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