Year Here
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Year Here

What we look for in a Social Innovation Fellow

Ten years after we launched, we’ve changed our selection criteria to build more professionally diverse cohorts than ever.

It’s been ten years since we launched Year Here as a leadership programme for ambitious people who are fired up about social change.

Since then, we’ve been overwhelmed with the collective progress of our community: over 18,000 service users reached, 50 new social ventures, thousands of column inches and dozens of awards.

One thing that we’ve learnt is that Year Here works best when it’s a melting pot. It’s magic when you mix designers and artists with economists and consultants, all working on problems that matter.

Bringing together these different perspectives and approaches to solving problems is a powerful way of coming up with genuinely inventive solutions — like when social entrepreneur Aaron John and George Metcalfe, who has a background in charities and international development NGOs, built Tranquiliti, a digital service building responsive school environments that promotes the flourishing and learning of all students.

Throughout our selection process, we are looking for candidates who can display strengths in the following areas:

  • Motivation
  • Conscientiousness
  • Original Thought
  • Experience

Below, we offer more information on what we mean by each of these elements.


We want to know why you’re interested in Year Here and social business as a model for driving change. What is it about our approach that you identify with? What do you hope completing Year Here will enable you to achieve? When have you already shown a bias for action (from starting a small initiative in your community to leading a professional project or launching your own business)? What do you want your social impact to be?


Are you someone who appreciates the value of listening deeply to others? How do you show a dedication to continuously learning? Do you like to hold yourself to a high professional standard, consistently delivering on your commitments? Are you up for working on complex tasks and sticking it out when things get tough? We believe these are some of the qualities that make for outstanding social leaders.


Here we are looking for applicants to display curiosity and critical thought. Show us how you enjoy the opportunity to debate and strengthen your ideas. Show us how you bring observations that are based on your unique insight. Think about times when you’ve had a fresh approach to problem-solving. Can you balance the ability to unpick why things aren’t working with a passion for imagining how we can realistically move towards better outcomes?


There is no ‘ideal’ candidate background, and all our Fellows have their own talents; we’ve had everything from aerospace engineers to gender-based violence specialists to actors. We want to explore what you bring in terms of:

  • Lived experience of social issues; we believe that those leading social innovation should have a deep understanding of on the ground challenges. Your personal journey is extremely valuable.
  • Experience of being involved in the social sector (through education, volunteering, trusteeships, related jobs).
  • Experience working in demanding or fast-paced environments.
  • Professional basics — the ability to facilitate groups, present an idea, get buy-in, and manage a project.
  • Commercial basics — some understanding of basic business operations, e.g. how social businesses make an income and their related costs.

It’s not only applications with the most impressive qualifications or experience that catch our attention. Instead, it’s the people who show that they understand the programme, are hungry to become a Fellow, and critically engage with the world around them.

Here are our top tips on writing a stand-out application…


Applications can take a while to complete, especially this one, which requires self-reflection and critical thinking. Please give yourself enough time to avoid rushing it last minute.

We recommend drafting and saving your answers in a separate text document so that you don’t lose any work. For example, Google Docs is free to use — and has the added benefit of built-in grammar and spelling checks.


If you’re submitting a written application, use paragraph breaks to avoid presenting us with one block of text. This makes it much easier for us to read and demonstrates that you’re a clear communicator.


CVs should be easy to read and have two sides of A4 tops, and often the best are only one side. Remember, at this stage, we want a topline understanding of your education; career trajectory; and interests and projects that fall within it.

Please attach a PDF. You can ‘save as a PDF’ on Word or’ download as PDF’ on Google Docs.


The best applications make use of the word or time limit. You don’t have to go to the max, but we want you to use the space to give us a complete sense of who you are, your experience and your values. If you only submit one or two sentences, it doesn’t give us the impression that you’re hungry for the opportunity.


We admire passion, drive and a commitment to social change. But we love to see you showing it through tangible experiences or ideas rather than telling it through generic statements.


This isn’t to say that you have to write about an obscure social issue, but we want to see that you’ve really thought about what you’re writing and demonstrate critical analysis and lateral thinking.

We want to see that you’re comfortable going beyond the headlines and diving deeper into social issues.


This is a chance for us to get a flavour of who you are. The best applications are the ones that show your personality and offer a candid snapshot into your experiences but are clearly written, avoid jargon and maintain professionalism.

Make sure to include links to any blogs, portfolios, or projects you’ve been involved in.


If you need extra assistance completing your application or have any other questions, get in touch at

Apply now for the 2022/23 Social Innovation Fellowship.

Year Here is a platform for professionals to test and build entrepreneurial solutions to inequality in London. This is a collection of writings from our Fellows and Faculty on their experiences with social issues and innovation.

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Year Here

Year Here

A year to test and build entrepreneurial solutions to society’s toughest problems.

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