Matt Noffs

Social entrepreneur

Matt Noffs

Social entrepreneur

Matt Noffs is fol­low­ing in his grandfather’s foot­steps – help­ing unem­ployed youth with innov­at­ive and dif­fer­ent ideas in social enter­prise.

In this talk at TEDx­Can­berra 2011, Matt talks about car­ry­ing on the busi­ness of the found­a­tion his grand­father began and how it is chan­ging for the 21st Cen­tury, incor­por­at­ing new ways of enga­ging home­less and at-risk youth, and how an intro­duced pest, the cane toad, has become a part of the pic­ture.


In a time when the wel­fare sec­tor began to run short of ideas on how to help young people in a mean­ing­ful way, Matt, at the age of 24, read his grandfather’s mem­oirs which had been hid­den away for over two dec­ades. In these, Matt dis­covered let­ters from princes, prime min­is­ters, and pau­pers who had worked along­side Ted to build a revolu­tion in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.

After dis­cov­er­ing an unfin­ished idea of Ted’s called the Way­side Uni­vers­ity, Matt began work on his own ter­tiary-style edu­ca­tional move­ment dir­ec­ted at those who could never dream of get­ting a degree. It was there in a dusty attic that the con­cept of  The Street Uni­vers­ity was born. Matt and his wife Naomi foun­ded the Street Uni­vers­ity in 2007. It was launched by Pub­lic Enemy’s Chuck D, who called it “a work of art”. Today, the Street Uni­vers­ity, situ­ated in South West Sydney, sees over 1000 young people every month.

Matt began Gideon Shoes with his brother Rupert, not only as a means to fund the next gen­er­a­tion of Street Uni­vers­ities around the world but as an employ­ment oppor­tun­ity for those without jobs.

Matt was named by the Sydney Morn­ing Her­ald as being among the 100 Most Influ­en­tial People of 2009 and in The Aus­tralian Magazine Top 100 Next Lead­ers.

Matt is work­ing on a new idea that he will be tak­ing to Prime Min­ister Julia Gil­lard.