North West business leaders have been urged to back an ambitious £1m campaign to unlock the potential in gifted young people from families where no one has previously attended university.
The First Generation campaign from Manchester Metropolitan University aims to support 500 young people in securing a university education by 2020 - maximising the growth potential of the Northern Powerhouse economy by making the best possible use of the regional talent pool.
First Generation’s success is a personal goal for Manchester Metropolitan University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Malcolm Press, a First Generation founder donor, and the first member of his own family to attend university.
In his first major fundraising initiative as Vice-Chancellor, he is urging financial support from individuals, businesses and groups who have a stake in the future of young people in Greater Manchester.
He said: “I firmly believe that universities transform people’s lives. They allow them to discover who they are. They allow them to be who they want to be and achieve their ambitions.
“The First Generation scheme can only happen with the generous and visionary support of our alumni, businesses, partners and the whole University community. I would urge anyone who is passionate about developing talent and making a difference, to get involved and back First Generation.”
High profile donors
First Generation has already attracted the support of a number of high profile founder donors, including respected businesswoman Vanda Murray, former Camelot Chief Executive Dame Dianne Thompson and Mike Perls, chief executive of the MC2 marketing agency.
Targeting Manchester sixth form college students who have excelled in their GCSE examinations, First Generation aims to ensure that young people from all socio-economic backgrounds are represented on campus.
It will help the brightest young people, from families with no university experience, to secure an undergraduate place at Manchester Metropolitan and then provide them with continued professional and personal support throughout their studies, to graduation and into employment. Participants will receive a £1,000 First Generation Scholarship.
Every pound raised through First Generation will go directly towards supporting students, with the University covering its own costs. A £10,000 donation will provide funding for five young First Generation students and the campaign has already attracted strong support from individual and corporate donors alike.
The campaign isn’t about the short-term gains, but about creating ‘re-generation’, where the students being supported go on to become the next campaign supporters.
It will provide a boost for the private and public sector in the region by helping to create the strongest possible talent pool to support future growth for the UK economy. Participating companies will be able to contribute financially and through mentoring support.
“I think it’s very important to encourage people with an ability, at an early age, to be ambitious, to be confident, and to think about how universities can change their lives,” Professor Press added.
“First Generation could ultimately be self-sustaining. We will get the brightest and the best from across Greater Manchester, working with our partner schools and colleges, and we will use our staff and our students and our business networks to mentor those people.
“When they leave, we’ll help them with jobs, with prospects, with mentoring networks, with alumni networks, so that they can go on and be successful themselves. And my vision is that those people will be the individuals who will fund and support future generations.”
The first cohort of 50 First Generation students will be selected in March 2017 and granted a free summer school place. They will be supported in completing their university application and mentored. If successful in meeting the requirements of the scheme, they will start their undergraduate degrees in September 2018. It is hoped that First Generation will have supported 500 young people by 2020.
"The First Generation scheme can only happen with the generous and visionary support of our alumni, businesses, partners and the whole University community."
Professor Malcolm Press
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