Connect Fund

Our research shows that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are twice as likely as their better-off peers to be out of education, employment or training (NEET). There is also clear data showing that young people from ethnic minority backgrounds are disproportionately impacted by unemployment.

Together with Bank of America, The Centerbridge Foundation, Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropy, The Towerbrook Foundation, Sainsbury'sBain & Company and The CD&R Foundation we’re working to close the employment gap faced by young people from ethnic minority backgrounds, particularly black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani young people, in the UK.

The Connect Fund sits within our broader work on race equity and diversity and aims to help decrease the employment gap faced by young people from ethnic minority, disadvantaged backgrounds and promote systemic change towards a more racially equitable society. We do this by:

1. Building and scaling effective, impact-led employment programmes

We're supporting young people from ethnic minority backgrounds to overcome disadvantage and discrimination. So far we have partnered with six charities:

Babbasa is an award-winning organisation, based in a high need area, delivering a promising, evidence-backed programme. They deliver youth empowerment programmes which support young people to improve their confidence, pursue their professional ambitions and become economically active. Babbasa is now a Queen’s Award Winning enterprise, which has supported over 2,200 young people to date.

Career Ready partners with employers and educators across the UK to invest in young people from diverse backgrounds. It was founded in 2002 by leading business figures with a mission: to boost social mobility by empowering young people and giving their talents a platform to flourish. Since then, they’ve grown across the UK and supported over 150,000 young people in areas of need, from Essex to Elgin.

Generation UK delivers skills bootcamps in a range of professions – including data engineering and analysis, cloud engineering, IT support and cyber security, healthcare assistant roles working with the NHS, and a pioneering green-sector program training retrofit advisors. These programmes are now established across London, Manchester, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Scotland. Their programme combines the technical skills demanded by employers, the wraparound support that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds need, and exceptional employer links to get young people into employment. In 2022, 67% of the young people on Generation UK programmes were from ethnic minority backgrounds.

IMO Charity was founded by volunteers in 2006 and has since grown from grassroots to an established organisation recognised as the go-to provider of youth programmes for the South Asian community in Blackburn. Blackburn with Darwen is the 9th most deprived local authority in England (out of 317) - the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities in the area are disproportionately disadvantaged, with a 19% unemployment rate compared to 4% for all ethnicities.

MAMA Youth Project is an award-winning London-based employment charity, established in 2007 to train young people from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds to succeed in the media industry. MAMA Youth are very well connected at the highest levels of television broadcasting including Sky, Channel 4 and ITV and well respected for talent development. They support 100 - 150 young people per year and aim to grow to meet industry demand for diverse talent, especially outside London.

Sister System provides specialist early-intervention support to care-affected young women in North London aged 13-24, predominantly from Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds. They help them sustain positive relationships and mental wellbeing, and continue to engage in education, employment, or training. Sister System’s approach is centred around peer and therapeutic mentoring and co-created alongside those with experience of the care system.

2. Delivering a Leadership Academy that helps develop future leaders from ethnic minority backgrounds working within youth charities

The Impetus Leadership Academy, supported by Bank of America, is a leadership development programme to support talent from ethnic minority backgrounds in the UK youth sector to progress into senior leadership roles and contribute to the national conversation on issues facing young people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the UK.

In October 2021 we welcomed our first cohort of 12 participants and we're now working with our second cohort of participants. Find out more about the ILA here.

3. Convening key stakeholders

We are also convening key stakeholders across Government, employers and donors and sharing new learnings on interventions that can make a big impact.

If you’d like to know more or partner with us on the Connect Fund please contact

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