Rushanara Ali


Rushanara is the Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow.

She was the Young Foundation’s first Associate Director of Research, establishing our research and action research programmes focuses on contemporary life and changing needs in urban and rural communities, drawing on direct observation and ethnography. Her work on neighbourhoods paved the way for the Young Foundation’s work on local innovation and empowering local communities across the UK.

In addition to research, Rushanara led on external affairs and international work, overseeing the establishment of the Social Innovation eXchange (SIX) within the Young Foundation, which brings together pioneers in the field of social innovation from around the world.

She also initiated three new ventures: UpRising programme of leadership development for young people; Maslaha – an innovative project working with young Muslims to support them in dealing with the everyday dilemmas of living in Western secular societies; and Fastlaners – a 21st Century finishing school model to help unemployed graduates into work.

Before joining the Young Foundation, Rushanara worked at the Communities Directorate of the Home Office taking forward a work programme in response to the 2001 riots in the north of England. She has also worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; as a Research Fellow for the centre left think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research and as a Parliamentary Assistant.

She worked for Michael Young helping to develop a telephone interpreting company called Language Line and helped set up Tower Hamlets Summer University, a pioneering model which has cut youth crime in the area and has been successfully replicated around London. She is the Chair of Tower Hamlets Summer University and SummerUni London, a Trustee of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and a member of the Tate Britain Council.

She was a Commissioner for the London Child Poverty Commission; a Board Member of Tower Hamlets College; a Trustee of the Environment Trust; and a member of the Home Office Working Group on Preventing Extremism established after the 7/7 London bombings. Rushanara studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University.


Recent publications (other than those published directly by the Young Foundation):

  • Systemic Innovation in Vocational Education and Training (with Julie Caulier-Grice, OECD, 2008)
  • Tacking Social Exclusion: Community Organisations in Civil Dialogue (IPPR, 2001)
  • English Language for those entering school (Home Office, 2003)
  • Mono-cultural schools and cohesion (Home Office,2003)
  • Our House? Race and Representation in British Politics (with Colm O’Cinneide, IPPR 2002)
  • Swell ideas (The Guardian 24 September 2008)
  • Let power reflect the people (The Guardian, 20 February 2008)
  • One year later…(with Geoff Mulgan, Prospect Magazine July 2006)
  • Our riots ( with Geoff Mulgan, Prospect Magazine May 2006)
  • The Angry East End (with Kate Gavron Prospect Magazine April 2006)