Stepladder Plus: Financial Awareness Programme for Young People in Care

Stepladder Plus

In 2020, The Portal Trust awarded £54,000 to The Share Foundation to fund 18 places for looked-after children on their Stepladder Plus programme.

Stepladder Plus is an online training programme preparing young people in care for the tradition into further education, employment or training by teaching core financial skills and how to plan for the future.

Continue reading below to learn more about the programme, The Share Foundation and the experiences of previous participants, Sasha, Nathan, Isaac and Zoe.*

(*all participant’s names have been changed)


Registered as a charity in 2005, The Share Foundation helps ‘children and young people whose family situations are either severely disadvantaged or completely non-existent to achieve their potential by providing support in the form of financial resources and education’.

As part of this mission, The Share Foundation runs Stepladder Plus – a financially-incentivised online learning programme for young people in care aged 15-17. The programme consists of six different steps, each demonstrating essential concepts such as financial skills and planning for the future.

Participants earn money for each step of the programme they complete, with up to £1,500 being deposited into their Junior ISA or Child Trust Fund once they finish the programme. They can then access this account once they turn 18.

The six steps of the programme are taken sequentially and consist of ‘Reading and Writing in Everyday Life’, ‘Using Numbers in Everyday Life’, ‘Making my Money Work’, ‘Plans for my Future’, ‘Managing my Money’ and ‘Putting my Plans into Action’ – the final stage of which includes mentoring and assistance to find further education, training or employment.

For the first and second steps, participants receive £150 upon each of their completion and an additional £200 for completing the third. This increases to £250 for the fourth step, £350 for the fifth and finally another £400 for completing the final step of programme.

In 2020, we awarded £54,000 to fund 18 places for looked-after children in Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets on the Stepladder Plus programme. Continue reading below to learn more about the experience of previous participants, Sasha, Nathan, Isaac and Zoe, and what they are up to now.

Stepladder Plus Online Dashboard
Image caption: Stepladder Plus Online Dashboard
Stepladder Plus Dashboard
Image caption: Stepladder Plus Dashboard

Sasha is currently still in education, studying for an A-Level and B-TEC qualification, and recently received an offer to study music production at her local university. For Sasha, participating in Stepladder Plus ‘helped her to gain focus and structure’ as she worked ‘completely independently’ on core subjects such as literacy and numeracy for the first time. She feels this has greatly increased her confidence and motivation to work.

After gaining 10 GCSEs at high school, Nathan is currently studying A-Level Geography, Psychology and Sociology and hopes to study Urban Planning at University. When participating in the Stepladder Plus programme, Nathan had the opportunity to ‘plan exactly how he wanted to achieve his employment goals’ and consider alternative options outside the academic sphere. The Stepladder Team were also able to arrange work experience for Nathan, connecting him with relevant local authority departments and resulting in the opportunity to work over the summer holidays.

For Issac, Stepladder Plus was a big turning point as he was quite disengaged at school and had almost given up on mainstream education. After joining the programme however, Isaac gained a renewed ‘confidence in his abilities’ and is now completing his A-Levels at college. He says that Stepladder Plus helped him to understand ‘the concept of saving and the benefits of having some funds saved’ and now hopes to do an apprenticeship in event management.

Zoe also previously completed the Stepladder Plus programme and shared her thoughts on the programme. ‘This course has provided me with living and financial skills that will help me save, spend and invest money efficiently while educating me on the importance of these things and reducing costs.’

We also spoke with Gavin Oldham, Chairman of the Share Foundation, about why Stepladder Plus is so important and how funding from The Portal Trust has helped to support the programme.

“Helping young people in care to develop life skills such as financial awareness is key to them achieving their potential in adult life. The Share Foundation combines the provision of starter capital accounts (Junior ISAs and Child Trust Funds) for looked-after young people with a structured programme of financial education, designed to fill the gaps in what is usually a very unsecure start in life, both a home and school.

We’ve learnt that if their acquisition of financial awareness is rewarded by financial incentives, persistence with the Stepladder Programme is not only encouraged but also rewarded by a transformation in their attitudes for working and higher education on leaving care.

The Portal Trust has given The Share Foundation much needed and very timely support for young people in care from Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets. Their generous and continuing support has enabled us to demonstrate the effectiveness of incentivised learning for young people in care, and as a result we are now making significant progress towards implementing the programme across the United Kingdom as a whole”

Helping young people in care to develop life skills such as financial awareness is key to them achieving their potential in adult life.

Gavin Oldham
Chairman, The Share Foundation

We’re very proud to support the Share Foundation and help fund places for young people on their Stepladder Plus Programme. If you would like to learn more about the programme, check out their website here.

The Share Foundation also runs the Child Trust Fund and Junior ISA schemes for children and young people in care on behalf of the Department for Education. If you’re aged 16-18 and born in the UK after the 1st September 2002, you may have a child trust fund created for you by the government which you can take control of. Check whether you do at: