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Global Social Leaders (GSL) Programme

The aim of GSL is to establish a network of socially conscious global leaders who are equipped to be leaders in their lives and society.

The GSL programme was launched in 2013 by Future Foundations, in partnership with the Wellington Leadership and Coaching Institute. We empower young people to co-design innovative social action projects benefiting their families, communities and charitable organisations further afield. We have since inspired and supported 5000 young people to deliver over 1000 projects in 100 countries.



HundrED shortlisted this innovation

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Target group
June 2020
GSL is an amazing program to join, as it enforces all the principals to become a great leader in life and society. GSL also teaches you how to make something positive out of your own mistakes.

About the innovation

What is Global Social Leaders (GSL) Programme

What we do?
Future Foundations is an independent award-winning organisation which believes in the power of young people to create a more sustainable and brighter future. We design and deliver pioneering training programmes and experiences for young people between the ages of 7 and 24 globally. Our mission is to inspire young people to achieve their full potential. Our vision is a society where all organisations are led by socially conscious people, with every young person  making a transition into adulthood with the foundations they need for their future.

Why we do it?
We are facing unprecedented times and threats to our social, physical and mental health and wellbeing indeed to our very existence. We need solutions to problems that we have never faced before. As an organisation we want young people to know who they are so they can thrive and serve others to create a more sustainable world for all. We are passionate about the power people have to effect great change in their own lives and wider society. We work with young people because the sooner we can connect with our power and purpose the faster the world can heal. 

How we do it?
We work with young people, schools, teachers, educators, parents, guardians and leaders through our global competition and programmes.  There is a lack of knowledge to support for young people in how to run student led projects outside of the classroom. Evaluation of Youth Social Action (in the UK), found robust evidence that young people who take part in social action initiatives, such as volunteering, develop some of the most critical skills for employment and adulthood. We work to develop the knowledge and skills so that young people can make meaningful change. 

The GSL programme is shaped to focus on building knowledge, skills attitudes and values through independent learning and team sessions. We believe in building the right attitude and values in young people as the foundation for GSL programmes.  The OECD highlight the need to acquire three transformative competencies to help shape the future we want: creating new value, reconciling tensions and dilemmas, and taking responsibility. We use this a basis for our programme design. 

Reflection is a key component to the GSL programme, as part of the learning process; encouraging young people to reflect on their experience throughout the programme, their own individual learning and building their insight. “We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” [Dewey (1933:78)]  

When young people “create new value, they ask questions, collaborate with others and try to think “outside the box” in order to find innovative solutions. This blends a sense of purpose with critical thinking and creativity”  

We instill a sense of agency by providing students (and their teachers) with a dynamic work related learning programme. We challenge our students to examine issues at a local, national and global scale. Our programmes empower young people to take responsibility, lead change and develop a sense of self-determination. They are the change they wish to see. 

We address the challenges by delivering leadership courses and a global service-learning project competition, which challenges young people to work in teams to solve local, national and global issues (inspired by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals). 

We celebrate and reward young peoples' journeys as well as their destinations. This resulted in our launching in the face of Covid-19 a two day virtual global youth conference, The GSL Festival @ Home. It was powered by the young global changemakers who continued to take action even during global lockdown. 

We challenge young people to Think Globally, Act Socially and Start Now! 

How to support implementation - scalability & impact 
We invite schools to register with us, to take part in our free to enter global project competition, this is the entry point to joining our programme and being part of the growing GSL movement.  We launched this three years ago, and have grown the competition from 50 to 600 schools taking part per year, in over 100 countries.  Once part of this initiative, school teachers and young people, can find out more about GSL, our programmes and free to join Fellowship which supports young changemarkers to be leaders in their lives and society. 

What one of our young people think about what we do
"GSL isn’t an ordinary program. It doesn’t talk about problems. It talks about solutions. I makes us realise about the comfort zone that we usually dwell in but also provides practical solutions to overcome it. Because that’s where the real work is done. That is where change occurs. That is where leaders lead. GSL teaches you not only how to lead, but also how NOT to lead. It dispels the myth that leaders and dominators. It shows us that leaders are the most compassionate humans of all. GSL teaches you, at the end of it all, how to live a life that can make a difference." - Anhad  Billabong High International School, India


A special endorsement by his excellency Ban Ki-Moon
Global Goals – How schools can transform the world - Council of British International Schools
Global Goals – How schools can transform the world
The Global Social Leaders Festival @ Home
GSL Festival @ Home featured on SchoolSearch.co.uk
COBIS Global Social Leaders Competition
COBIS Global Social Leaders Competition
GSL Festival @Home - Live-Stream Video Content
The GSL Festival is packed with inspiration that celebrates youth voices and gives young people (and their teachers) the tools to create transformational social change. We will celebrate and support youth led action. We will explore with inspirational speakers and guests, through workshops and awards, how to make the local global. This festival is for young people, educators, parents and leaders. It’s for everyone that believes in the positive power of people to be leaders in their lives and society. Join us from your home, your school, your community, your office – and be part of the GSL movementThis is the only link you need to enjoy all the live streamed content of the GSL Festival @Home.https://www.globalsocialleaders.com/live-stream/
‎GSL Podcast
We have been quietly working on this project for a while now. Hundreds of amazing initiatives are currently being led by GSL changemakers around the world. This podcast has been designed to give you the ability to get inspired on a regular bases. You can listen to the GSL Podcast on all popular platforms including Apple Podcast and SpotifyYou can also listen to all the podcasts here.
GSL Blogs
We are excited to share the blogs written by students from around the World who are taking part in our GSL Global Goals Competition. Every article tells a story of incredible young people who are creating positive social change in their communities. We want all our participants to be inspired by each others journeys, and to feel part of a global network of schools and students who are committed to creating a better world. Click here to read the blogs!
GSL Instagram - #gslgoals
We are excited to share a live Instagram feed for the Global Goals Competition, featuring posts from young people around the world, in real time. Join the GSL movement and help to build followership and support for your social action project by using the hashtag #gslgoals. We love to engage with your posts and add comments of encouragement so make sure to tag @globalsocialleaders in your posts related to the Global Goals Competition. You can check out our live feed here
Why attend the GSL programmes in the UK? Siqi - Participant from China
To find out more how to get involved in the programme go to https://www.globalsocialleaders.com/worldsummit/
Why attend the Teacher Programme at GSL?
To find out more how to get involved in the programme go to https://www.globalsocialleaders.com/worldsummit/
What do students learn at the GSL World Summit?
To find out more how to get involved in the programme go to https://www.globalsocialleaders.com/worldsummit/
What makes the GSL World Summit special?
To find out more how to get involved in the programme go to https://www.globalsocialleaders.com/worldsummit/
What is the GSL Catalyst programme?
A transformational leadership journey that starts with a 3 or 5 day programme at your school led by expert coaches from the the UK.  Designed to develop leadership skills, team work, and confidence. Students will join a global movement of socially conscious young leaders challenged to create a project that addresses the UN’s Global Goals.  GSL Catalyst is a leadership experience developed by Future Foundations and the Wellington Leadership Institute  Participants will: • Develop leadership skills • Explore their passions • Build confidence • Learn how to design and implement a social action project that address the Global Goals Find out more by visiting our programme website: www.globalsociaLleaders.com/catalyst
GSL Global Goals Competition 2019-2020
THE GLOBAL SOCIAL LEADERS (GSL) STUDENT COMPETITION IS FOCUSED ON THE UNITED NATIONS’ GLOBAL GOALS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.  The aim of the competition is to develop students’ understanding of global citizenship and how to turn their ideas into reality. We support young people to develop and implement a project that helps to achieve the United Nations’ Global Goals and join a global movement of socially conscious leaders.  The competition is free to enter, but requires schools to appoint a member of staff who will coordinate the competition within your school and act as our main point of contact. We require schools to register before starting projects and for teams to submit projects for feedback before implementing them. We want to ensure all projects are high quality and are fully supported by their school  This year 5000+ students from 105 countries entered the competition. To find out more go to:  https://www.globalsocialleaders.com/ggcompetition/  
GSL Global Goals Competition Winner Announcement
This is the moment you've all been waiting for, the announcement of the winners of the GSL Global Goals Competition 2019/2020.  First, you will hear from a few very special people talking about the GSL movement. We will then present the 5 finalist that won the semi-final judges hearts. Lord Dr Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE will present his keynote and announce the winners!
17 Days of Action: Day 1 - No Poverty
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 1
17 Days of Action: Day 2 - Zero Hunger
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 2
17 Days of Action: Day 3 - Good Health and Wellbeing
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 3
17 Days of Action: Day 4 - Quality Education
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 4
17 Days of Action: Day 5 - Gender Equality
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 5
17 Days of Action: Day 6 - Clean Water & Sanitation
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 6
17 Days of Action: Day 7 - Affordable & Clean Energy
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 7
17 Days of Action: Day 8 - Decent Work & Economic Growth
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 8
17 Days of Action: Day 9 - Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 9
17 Days of Action: Day 10 - Reduced Inequalities
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 10
17 Days of Action: Day 11 - Sustainable Cities & Communities
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 11
17 Days of Action: Day 12: Responsible Consumption & Production
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 12
17 Days of Action: Day 13 - Climate Action
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 13
17 Days of Action: Day 14 - Life Below Water
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 14
17 Days of Action: Day 15 - Life on Land
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 15
17 Days of Action: Day 16 - Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 16
17 Days of Action: Day 17 - Partnership for the Goals
Watch amazing projects of students who supported SDG 17

Implementation steps

Global Goals Competition

Our free to enter global competition, has enabled schools to take part who would not otherwise be able to do so. These schools are now connected with schools around the world and their students are receiving the same level of support, and recognition.

Every year we have close to 600 leading schools worldwide registered to participate in the competition. It is an opportunity for young people at your school to join a truly global movement of socially conscious leaders and be recognised for creating positive change in your community.

Last year more than 4,000 young people from 86 countries entered the Global Goals Competition, leading projects that delivered innovative solutions to some of the most world’s most pressing issues. The finalist and runner up team projects can be found here.

For an overview of this 2019-20 Competition, click here to take a look at this short film.

GSL Catalyst


Each GSL Catalyst programme is tailored to the exact needs of each school or college, and the price depends on the delivery costs. There is a number of variables taken into account such as travel, accommodation or visa costs. Another important factor is the number of participants as this will affect the number of staff we will send to your school, usually the more participants the lower the price per young person.

We take pride in developing a partnership and long-term relationship with schools and colleges around the world. We always aim to develop a GSL Catalyst experience that meets our partners needs and available budget.

Please click here to view the various Global Catalysts we have delivered globally.

GSL World Summit

The World Summit is a truly global mix of nationalities and chance for you to meet and make meaningful connections with people from all over the world. Over the years we have welcomed young people from Australia, Cayman Islands, China, India, Italy, Germany, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Singapore, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, UK and USA so it is a truly global mix of nationalities. Participating in the GSL World Summit is your opportunity to receive world-class leadership and personal development training, meet inspiring and influential people and organisations and discover unique opportunities to give something back to society.

We would like to invite you to visit our website and view additional information about the World Summit here.

The Global Leaders in Education Programme

The seeds of inspiration that gave rise to this programme include Harvard Business School’s Leadership Initiative and the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Centre. As such, it draws upon the science of positive psychology and the latest research in leadership.

The Global Leaders in Education Programme is supported and quality assured by the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. 

For more information about this programme, please click here. We also have a short video from Mr. Basnayake, the Principle at a school in Sri Lanka sharing his views about the teacher programme at the GSL World summit.

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