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.