Our Make My Mark programme came out of a conversation between two of our trustees about how social mobility in the UK today has decreased compared to 30 or 40 years ago. As the Social Mobility Commission put it, “Britain has a deep social mobility problem. For this generation of young people it is getting worse not better. Low levels of social mobility are impeding the progress of not only the poorest in our society.”
In our society, the middle classes give their children opportunities that money can buy, such as extra tuition, travel, gap years, etc. The very rich may have “trust funds” to support them while growing up.
These middle class children also benefit from having the support and network of their family to help them make the most of any opportunities they encounter. Support that includes knowledge, guidance and connections – these are invaluable in helping young people find their way in life. The combination of money and support means that these “advantaged” young people can follow their dreams. They are best placed to pursue life pathways that will lead to success and fulfilment, with the opportunity to maximise their potential.
Those at the margin or below have few opportunities and no spare resources. Disadvantaged children don’t have access to money and often they don’t have people around them who have the knowledge, connection and support they need to reach their potential.
What if we could level the playing field? Give disadvantaged children a chance to achieve everything they could be? To level things up so that there truly is social mobility in this country. At its core that is what our idea is about. Fairness. Potential. Potential that is tapped rather than withering away. Breaking the cycle that the lack of opportunity, help and support passes from one generation to the next.
We want to break this cycle. We will do so by providing young people with two important things they need: money and support. So that they can take advantage of opportunities they encounter. The plan is to provide young people between 18 and 30 years of age with a grant of up to £3,000 with mentoring and support worth at least another £1,000 from one of the Partner Organisations. Young people that are known to a Partner Organisation will be able to apply for a grant of money and support across five categories:
- Education & Training
- Culture including Music
- Community Engagement
Partner organisations will help grant winners access further funding and provide wide-ranging and ongoing mentoring and support. The mentoring may cover the application and selection period and is likely to extend for at least one year from the award of a grant, but will be driven by the needs of the young person.
The Partner Organisations are:
- Carney’s Community, based in Battersea , south west London
- Peabody, which operates across London
- Urban MBA, based in east London
The pilot will be a collaborative exercise between all the partners, with a joint process of application and selection. The design of the programme has involved young people from across London at every stage of development. Young people are also involved in selecting the grant winners. The aim is that this is a programme designed by young people for young people.
We have been running a pilot since the summer 2018 with the first grants made in late 2018. We made our second round of grants in November 2019. We aim to make around ten grants each year for at least three years, during which time we will evaluate the effect of the programme and, if successful, look to scale it. The aim is to see if this approach to tackling social mobility can be successful as well as to learn how we can improve the structure and operation of the programme.
You can see highlights of our 2019 launch event, held at the office of Eversheds Sutherland in London, here: