Shared values and a two-way partnership: our nine-year relationship with City Gateway

Impetus transforms the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, by making sure they get the support they need to succeed in school, in work and in life. We do this by partnering with innovative charities, providing funding alongside bespoke support for senior staff. We help organisations drill down into their mission, interrogate their impact and ensure a strong organisational footing from which to refine and expand their programmes and reach more young people.

We are proud of our near decade-long partnership with City Gateway, a charity that provides education, training and support to young people from across London, helping them to secure and sustain a job or apprenticeship. They do this by providing English, maths and vocational qualifications, sector specific employability skills, employer engagement activities including employer visits, workshops and experience within employer workplaces as well as individual coaching and mentor support throughout their time with City Gateway.

Impetus’ commitment to empowering young people facing barriers is truly remarkable. Their support to City Gateway has made a significant difference in transforming the lives of young people, opening doors for them to opportunities that were previously deemed unreachable.

- Diane Betts, CEO, City Gateway


Part 1: The roots of our partnership

Why Impetus chose to partner with City Gateway

Across our 21-year history, Impetus has had a consistent approach to partnering with charities: we select the most promising organisations supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed at school and work, and work shoulder to shoulder with them to make them better and stronger. And when we say the most promising charities, we really mean it; for every 48 charities we consider, only 1 makes the grade to become a charity partner.

Our partnership with City Gateway began in March of 2014. The organisation stood out for two reasons. First, they primarily operated in Tower Hamlets, the most deprived borough in London at the time and the 7th (out of 326) most deprived local authority district in England (Index of Multiple Deprivation, 2010). And second, simply put, they provided “best-in-class” programmes supporting young people to succeed. Their results for Apprenticeship completion and progression into employment were already significantly better than the national average, compared with other providers.

We propose investment in City Gateway because they provide best-in-class education and employment programmes for 14-24 year olds in East London…Their results for Apprenticeship completion and progression into employment are significantly better than the national average and comparator provision.

- Excerpt from our Investment Paper seeking approval from our Investment Committee to partner with City Gateway, March 2014

They had a lot of potential, and wanted to fulfil it.

Shared values

Across the last nine years, the alignment in our values is what has really ensured the success of our partnership. What makes this organisation unique is its commitment to supporting young people who have been most underserved by the mainstream education system, and most impacted by social and economic inequality. We know that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are twice as likely to be neither earning nor learning than their better-off peers, and they need targeted support. City Gateway understand that.

City Gateway remains the only provider of its kind in Tower Hamlets - a London borough still experiencing a number of challenges, including more than half of its children living in poverty. Today, 87% of their learners are from communities experiencing racial inequalities, and 23% have health problems or learning difficulties. Many face other barriers too – from the risk of homelessness, to drug or alcohol misuse, mental health issues, experience of being in care and much more.

City Gateway’s interventions include small, supportive learning groups; teachers who can help young people feel more confident about maths and English; time with a skills mentor; and breakfast, snacks and even a foodbank - accessible to all their learners. Often, it's the things that many of us take for granted that can make all the difference.

It was also clear early in our partnership that City Gateway shared Impetus' evidence-informed approach to impact. Month in, month out, they take an unflinching look at their data to determine where they need to change tack. This has been vital in securing the positive outcomes that they support young people to achieve through their programmes.

That crucial starting point of mission alignment, combined with City Gateway’s strong reported outcomes and effective leadership, laid the foundations for a truly collaborative long-term partnership to be formed.

Mukadim, a young person supported by City Gateway, featured in our 2021 film ‘Making up for lost time.’
Mukadim, a young person supported by City Gateway, featured in our 2021 film ‘Making up for lost time.’

Part 2: Our journey together

A look back

Throughout our partnership with City Gateway we’ve worked together with their team in different ways to secure positive outcomes for the young people both of our organisations exist to serve.

In the first year of our partnership, we supported City Gateway through a comprehensive Theory of Change process, helping them take stock of what they’d achieved and consider their future direction. Then, in the same year, we supported their leadership team to develop their new impact-focused Route to Employment programme, encouraging them to consider what they wanted each young person on the programme to achieve, and to think creatively about the right funding mix to sustain the programme as it grew.

When Covid hit in 2020, we engaged in intensive scenario planning so that the organisation could meet the changing needs of the young people they support while dealing with the challenges all organisations faced during the pandemic – including programme continuity, maintaining contact and engagement with clients and securing funding.

Other examples of our work together include co-creating a data framework to maintain a rigorous focus on impact, training workshops on Change Management to ensure that stakeholders were bought in to the organisation’s ambitious plans, providing mentors for a range of City Gateway’s leaders, as well as hands-on support with CEO succession planning.

The Two-Way Partnership

City Gateway work closely with Impetus and treat it very much as a two-way partnership. They stand by the young people that need them the most. They are curious about how they are doing, relentless in their pursuit of better impact, unflinching in how they look at that.
- Sophie Manning, Investment Director, Impetus

Like all our charity partners, City Gateway benefits from the expertise of our dedicated Investment team, as well as receiving long-term unrestricted funding. We work with the leadership teams of our charities to help them become stronger, and more cohesive. We help them to define which young people they can serve well, what outcomes they'll deliver and how they'll monitor and improve performance as they grow.

Personal relationships are key, and City Gateway’s dedicated Impetus Investment Director and Managers meet with their leadership team quarterly for a full update and partnership review. In between, we support them with bespoke projects to further their development be it working together on a plan or a pitch, sharing information around policy or funding changes, or diving into some attendance or income figures – all with the aim of making them a stronger, more sustainable organisation better able to support young people.

Working with other organisations

City Gateway’s model, supporting young people to develop skills so they’re ready for the workplace, and then securing them placements with world-leading organisations, depends on strong partnerships with employers. This is another area in which Impetus has been able to add value, encouraging our donors and world-class pro bono network to take part in employer engagement opportunities with City Gateway.

Some of the organisations we’ve introduced to City Gateway’s work include CD&R, Inflexion, Centrebridge, PwC, GIC, Rede Partners and CVC Capital Partners. The team from City Gateway describe the impact these organisations have had below.

Real Impact

Impact, by our definition, is the meaningful, lasting change in a young person’s life which can be attributed to a specific intervention. By ‘meaningful’, we mean that it has a transformative, proven impact on a person’s wealth, health or wellbeing across a long period of time. By ‘lasting’ we mean that the effect can be seen to endure over a significant amount of time, long after the programme.

- Impetus’ definition of impact

The early phase of the partnership was not without setbacks. City Gateway faced a number of unavoidable external challenges including regulatory changes, which led to a drop in income, and redundancies necessary to ensure core programmes could continue. With Impetus’ support the organisation managed this contraction and consolidated its foundations, before rebuilding with impact at its core, enabling it to regain a growth trajectory that uses apprenticeships funding as a route to sustainable growth.

While the COVID pandemic delayed City Gateway’s ambitions, with the near full closure of apprenticeships for two years, they are now showing steady growth, supporting more young people year-on-year:

Number of young people supported by City Gateway since 2016/17

City gateway reach chart

While City Gateway have long believed that a focus on impact is vital, we have worked hard with their team to ensure that impact and impact management is central to everything they do. With our support they have implemented an impact strategy, placed performance management at the heart of the organisation and they now drive collective accountability for outcomes from the Board of trustees through to the front line. And the hard work has paid off, as shown by their improving outcome rates:

Number of young people entering education, employment or training within 6 months of starting a City Gateway programme
City gateway EET chart

Part 3: City Gateway's Perspective

This section was written by the City Gateway team.

At City Gateway we really value the long-standing and trusted partnership we have with Impetus, which has led to great impact on the young people we work with.

Over the years, we have been fortunate to collaborate with Impetus where we’ve not only received funding but also been able to access an array of services such as insights, support, advice and impact and data development, that has made a difference to several aspects of our programme delivery and overall organisational growth.

As a charity, Impetus’ support has been pivotal for us in forging new and ongoing partnerships with employers. Their advisory support through Covid and scenario planning helped us secure various long-term funding partners such as Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), Inflexion and Centrebridge, which has enabled us to offer wrap-around coaching support for the young people we support.

The Impetus-led corporate partnership with PwC has paved the way for our new IT apprenticeship programme. Pro bono support from corporate volunteers such as, CD&R, GIC, Rede Partners and CVC Capital Partners has been invaluable for our learners as part of our Route to Employment course, giving them access to, and creating a multitude of, opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had. CD&R have also recently produced a short film all about City Gateway and our impact on young people, an invaluable asset that tells our story in a way that will engage potential employers, partners and funders - not to mention the young people we are here to support.

Young people from City Gateway pitching to a panel of Clayton Dubilier & Rice judges as part of a Dragon's Den workshop.
Young people from City Gateway pitching to a panel of Clayton Dubilier & Rice judges as part of a Dragon's Den workshop.

Impetus’ investment in our staff’s development through their ongoing peer-to-peer support forums such as their CEO forum, Impetus Leadership Academy and Communications forum really sets them apart from other funding partners. And their active support with marketing and fundraising has been beneficial for us in raising awareness of our programmes and reaching those who really need us.

Impetus has been exceptional with their fundraising efforts and leadership development programmes. Their partnership has not only elevated our organisation's financial foundation but has also empowered us to reach new heights of leadership and impact. Impetus embodies the true spirit of collaboration, propelling us forward with their dedication and expertise.
- Wesley Lau, Head of Fundraising, City Gateway
Wesley Lau (back row, far-right), City Gateway’s Head of Fundraising, was a member of our Leadership Academy’s 2022/23 cohort.
Wesley Lau (back row, far-right), City Gateway’s Head of Fundraising, was a member of our Leadership Academy’s 2022/23 cohort.

City Gateway truly understands what it takes to support young people who feel failed or overlooked, and are fierce in their belief that they deserve better. Their focus on individualised support, helping each person identify their strengths and skills, inspiring confidence and building self-belief, can have a truly transformative impact. It can help a young person see the future they can have, and are deserving of.

We’re proud of all we’ve done to support young people in Tower Hamlets across the last nine years in partnership with City Gateway – it’s a testament to both the impact of our model and the dedication of the City Gateway team.

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