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Back to Who we are

Our history

In 2010, seven young people were inspired by a simple offer: ‘Give a year. Change the world - by supporting children in your own community’. They signed up to pilot a youth civilian service programme from America. City Year London, later to become City Year UK, was born.

An international movement for social change

City Year was founded in the US in 1988 as a national service programme to unite young adults from diverse backgrounds for a demanding year of full-time civilian service. It has since grown to 29 US cities. In 2005, Nelson Mandela invited City Year to Johannesburg leading to City Year South Africa, the first international affiliate. The UK launch followed five years later.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead Author and speaker
City Year's Co-Founders, Alan Khazei and Michael Brown in black City Year sweatshirts
1988

City Year is founded by Harvard Law School roommates, Michael Brown and Alan Khazei.

City Year Inc
City Year South Africa service leaders standing around Nelson Mandela
2005

Nelson Mandela invites City Year to Johannesburg, leading to the first international affiliate; City Year South Africa.

City Year South Africa
Group of volunteer mentors in red jackets standing against a graffiti wall and cheering
2010

City Year UK pilot begins in London, with seven trailblazing volunteers.

Birmingham volunteer mentors in front of a statue
2013

City Year UK expands to the West Midlands.

Volunteer mentors cheering
2015

Launch in Greater Manchester.

Two volunteer mentors in conversation with Steve Holliday
2018

The Government's Full-time Social Action Review finds that ‘committed forms of social action over an extended period have been shown to play a critical role in developing a young person’s life chances, improving job prospects and wellbeing.'

“Your experience will be unique to you but you are part of a movement of thousands of young people across the world who believe in making a positive and lasting change for children.”

Alum City Year UK
National Strategic Partners
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National Partners
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