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The Key


The problem

Young people have amazing potential, but sometimes can’t tap into it. By building confidence, aspirations and pride, the Key programme opens doors.  It builds new experiences, new skills and new futures. The Key programme breaks down barriers, binds communities and empowers young people to get involved and do things for themselves.

The Key was established in the North East of England with a vision for a world where young people are listened to and empowered to reach their full potential in life, in a world where their communities look on them with pride and feel excitement for the future.

The solution

The Key want to create a world where young people believe in their own ideas and can take responsibility for living them.

The Key believe that life is more rewarding when we have more control over our own lives. They provide young people with a framework to fulfil their potential and discover what they’re capable of and make meaningful impacts on their lives and their worlds.

“The Key support young people to build 12 key skills and unlock their potential. Big Change support helped them invest in data and impact measurement to prove and scale their impact, so far working with 9,213 young people. ”

The response

Work in Action

The Key calls for young people to engage their individuality, curiosity and creativity as the work together to turn dream projects into reality.

They Key framework helps young people take responsibility for what matters most and experience self-discovery and personal development. Thousands of young people annually think, plan, do and review their own projects with the support of trained Key Facilitators.

The journey is based around a healthy balance of freedom and structure, providing the vital spark that young people need to ignite their passions and practically develop their skills for real world success.

Scientific theory of human motivation, development and learning is embedded in the framework. Through it, young people focus on development of twelve Key Skills. These are the building blocks for future success in education, training, work and adulthood. Coupled with confidence and self-awareness, young people can use these skills them to follow their passions, build their own lives and make the most of their potential.

The Big Changer

Hannah Underwood

Hannah Underwood has been running They Key since 2005, combining her business head and her passion for developing young people. She has a belief that all young people have the power to be great, and this is a central tenet of The Key’s approach. Hannah started off as science boffin, fascinated in how people learn, behave and unlock their potential and became passionate about using this knowledge to help young people develop themselves and their future life chances. She is now a self-confessed impact data geek with an unquenchable desire to improve as many young lives as is humanly possible with as little resource as is needed.


Here is just some of the impact made by The Key over the last five years:

  • 13,673 Young people have participated in The Key Framework, and built the 12 Key Skills over the past three years.
  • 2,996 projects have been designed by young people
  • 139,879 other members of the community have benefitted from participating in the young people’s projects
  • 8,054 successful steps into employment, education, training or volunteering were made by young people.

The Key breaks down barriers, binds communities & empowers young people to get involved and do things for themselves

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