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14th September 2021

Virgin Atlantic working with new charity partners to support STEM initiatives for young people

The Smallpeice Trust is delighted to be one of three new charity partners, working with Virgin Atlantic as part of their Passport to Change Programme. Virgin Atlantic has pledged £2.5 million through customer donations over five years to support STEM initiatives with grants, sponsorships, and investments. Working with The Smallpeice Trust, Speakers for Schools, and UK for UNHCR, the airline’s community programme aims to inspire and empower young people from all corners of society to engage with STEM education and build career skills for the future in science, technology, engineering, and maths.

Designed to empower the next generation to fulfil their potential through education, the relaunched Passport to Change programme will provide access to STEM learning for young people through a combined model of direct school engagement, grants and scholarships.

We are thrilled that Virgin Atlantic are partnering with us to support STEM-specific educational learning through STEM kits, STEM club activities, Arkwright Engineering Scholarships for 6 students, and supporting their partner schools via Passport to Change. The selection criteria for the Arkwright Engineering Scholarships are for the students to be from state schools within 20 miles of Heathrow, Manchester or Gatwick Airport with a higher percentage of female scholars.

Each school participating in the programme will receive a Smallpeice Trust Glider Think Kit, allowing teachers from each of the three schools to set up an in-school STEM club and run a 10-week project for up to 20 students. Virgin Atlantic will also support our university STEM residential courses, offering young people the chance to experience topics such as Aviation Technology at leading universities, with scholarships available to students from their partner schools.

Caroline Broadway, Director of Engagement, The Smallpeice Trust, commented:

“Virgin Atlantic’s Passport to Change activities will inspire more young people to find a passion for STEM, while helping all those involved gain life and leadership skills. Working in partnership we can increase the diversity and number of young people entering engineering careers.”

The ambition of the Passport to Change programme is to grow its presence across destinations and, through charity partnerships, encourage social mobility and close the difference between the majority and minority groups, creating opportunities to address inequity in educational learning.

Estelle Hollingsworth, Chief People Officer, Virgin Atlantic, commented:

“At Virgin Atlantic, our purpose is to empower everyone to take on the world and our vision is to be the world’s most loved travel company. To achieve both, we must invest in the hearts and minds of young people who will define our future.

“Our Passport to Change programme is how we at Virgin Atlantic use our business as a force for good, through our communities, our people, and our partners.

“We know there is a huge gender gap in STEM, and that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are disproportionately impacted. By working with our incredible new charity partners Speakers for Schools, The Smallpeice Trust and UK for UNHCR, we can reach, educate and empower young people from all parts of society to engage with STEM education, driving real change in the communities where we work and where we fly.”

To learn more about the Passport to Change programme please visit: https://www.virginatlantic.com/content/vaa/gb/en/blog/OurPeople/using-our-business-as-a-force-for-good-through-passport-to-chang.html.

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