Matt Noffs co-founded the Street University with his wife, Naomi, in 2007. At 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. 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. 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.
Naomi Noffs spent her 20s working in Africa and Nepal, building volunteer programs to create projects for those in need. On returning to Sydney, she focused on working with asylum seekers and recently arrived migrants, ensuring that they were given all the opportunities necessary to build a new life here in Australia. It was in the middle of South West Sydney that she began working with Matt on creating the concept of The Street University. Naomi involved the community and asked them to take part in the program so that it could work with young people with issues ranging from homelessness to mental health. At 29, Naomi is dedicated to both local and global issues and is sought to help create programs nationwide.