Manchester-based social enterprise, The Blair Project, has been awarded a £20,000 grant from The Phoenix Fund, driven by the Global Fund for Children and the National Lottery Community Fund. The fund provides emergency grants to Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) charities and groups across England that are providing essential support and education to the BAME community.
Focused on empowering marginalised young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to become leaders and innovators in sustainable solutions, The Blair Project creates opportunities for them to develop key skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and green technologies.
During The Blair Project’s ProtoEV STEM challenge, which currently takes place in Manchester, young people from diverse backgrounds are given hands-on experience and transferable, practical skills in eco-conscious engineering, mechanics and more, through the retrofitting of e-karts. This initiative gives young people from BAME backgrounds the practical skills to go on to secure well-paid employment opportunities, and to drive a revolution in sustainable technology.
When COVID-19 hit, plans to roll out the ProtoEV STEM Challenge to London and Oxfordshire, with the support of Oxford Brook University’s Widening Participation Programme, came to a halt resulting in a loss of vital income for the enterprise.
The £20,000 grant from The Phoenix Fund will support The Blair Project as it develops a digital delivery plan in place of its in-person ProtoEV challenge, including an engineering EdTech app which uses games-based learning. Through the app, young people will be able to design and build virtual go karts and compete in races against other teams. Using video gaming and immersive augmented reality simulation software, built by six Apadmi trainees, the app will provide high-quality tuition to disadvantaged youth, enabling The Blair Project to continue to teach real world engineering and prototyping skills where in-person education is not possible.
Nile Henry, CEO of The Blair Project, said: “Our ProtoEV STEM challenge is always the highlight of the programme at The Blair Project, but COVID-19 meant it wasn’t able to go ahead. We were delighted to partner up with mobile tech company Apadmi to train six young people in app development, enabling us to continue teaching key STEM skills in an app built by young people, for young people.
“This would not have been possible without the support received from The Phoenix Fund. Thanks to their dedication to support Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, we are able to continue our work developing the app, including onboarding the Apadmi trainees alongside three more members of staff.”
Joseph Bednarek, Senior Director of Global Grantmaking, Global Fund for Children on behalf of The Phoenix Fund, added: “We are honoured to be able to award Nile and the team at the Blair Project this grant to support their work with marginalised young people. We are looking forward to seeing how the app develops, and how they are able to continue to reach Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities in Manchester and beyond.”