In conversation with IntoUniversity's Dr Rachel Carr

Dr Rachel Carr IntoUniversity’s founder and CEO describes the impact of the charity’s 16 year partnership with Impetus:

Impetus has been with us since we first became a registered charity – and the partnership has been transformational.

Initially, Impetus undertook a rigorous due diligence process – after which they put their trust in us and committed to supporting our mission. Since then, they’ve provided us with a winning combination of three types of support; substantial financial generosity, which has been essential; pro-bono expertise, which has been absolutely key in all the stages of our growth; plus ongoing, crucial advice and experience from the inhouse Investment team at Impetus.

We’ve benefitted from various major pro bono projects at key moments in our development – from big-picture support with our growth through to crucial help with the day-to-day running of the charity. Support from our Impetus Investment Directors has also really positively influenced our approach to impact measurement, helping us demonstrate impact and develop our key metric – progression to university.

Throughout, we’ve worked closely with Impetus to develop and build on strong foundations for growth.

During our first grant period we had a modest plan for growth within London, so the next phase of the journey – opening further centres in London and beyond – was a real sea change for us.

We developed this business plan in partnership with our Impetus Investment Director and with the input of further pro bono support. This led to a major expansion into new towns and cities. Impetus invested £1 million in us at this stage, an important financial contribution to make that growth happen and a signifier to other funders of their confidence in us. Further long-term reinvestment in 2016-7 helped us build on our University partnerships, undertaking sophisticated feasibility studies to seek more strategic growth. It’s no exaggeration to say that without Impetus we would not be at 39 centres and growing!

We’ve also benefited hugely from specialist forums for my senior staff, and an Impetus CEO forum. I have really appreciated the latter – a space where expert speakers outside the charity sector provide a wealth of insight that I wouldn’t otherwise have access to; and a virtual (best WhatsApp group ever!) and physical space for charity leaders to share our knowledge, experience, and challenges and solutions. There’s a spirit of mutual enterprise and entrepreneurship within Impetus’ portfolio model where charities, whatever stage on their journey, whatever their size, can learn from each other. I find this so rewarding, and refreshing.

The combination of all of these things, with the dedicated support of an Investment Director acting as a critical friend at every step, has been a tremendous support to me and to IntoUniversity throughout our journey together.

IntoUniversity supports young people from disadvantaged areas to attain their chosen aspiration, including further and higher education, employment and work-based training.

It has grown from a project at a local community centre in 2002 to a start-up charity in 2007 to 39 centres across England and Scotland, now reaching 45,000 young people a year.