"If you believe it you can achieve it"
Aspire is a group of black professionals, founded in 2010, intent on raising the academic aspirations of young black people. Initially we approached this by providing mentoring, practical careers advice, work experience, assistance with UCAS personal statements, interview practise and positive professional black role models for young black people between 11-19 years of age. With our support all our mentees have successfully gained places to study the course of their choice (spanning from Music to Medicine) at the University of their choice. Our principle aim was to form part of the solution to the differential educational and careers attainment seen amongst black people in the UK.
However, in 2020 something changed. The coronavirus pandemic disproportionately and negatively affected ethnic minorities, in particular, as black people in the UK and USA we were more likely to die, lose our jobs and businesses and be denied government subsidised bank loans etc. Yet, it seemed there was no sense of urgency to understand this phenomenon and enact measures to mitigate it. The worldwide anti-racist protests sparked by the abhorrent extra-judiciary killing of George Floyd in America forced people to acknowledge the structural forces that impact black people and contribute to the issues surrounding the differential attainment of blacks in all sectors of education in the UK and their social consequences. Black educational under-attainment, in part, contributes to the wider issues we encounter in society: increased levels of poverty, increased contact with the criminal justice system, increased levels of under- and unemployment, fatherless homes and poor health outcomes.
We believe that every human being is an image bearer of God, and as such every life has intrinsic worth and value. This includes black lives. This means that we find the poor health, educational, and employment outcomes associated with black life deeply concerning. We believe that any solution to the inequalities that black people experience must be holistic. We acknowledge the correlation between Faith, a University education, social mobility, affluence and better health and wellbeing outcomes. We at Aspire pray for the day when black people are truly seen and treated as equally valuable human beings and image bearers of God. We believe that flourishing black communities require flourishing black families and that flourishing black families produce flourishing black people. Ultimately none of this is possible without the LORD principally and a good education. To this end we believe we can be part of the solution.
We have developed awards to support black Christian students. The awards are designed to acknowledge that the solution to the disproportionately negative outcomes seen amongst black people in the West generally and more specifically the UK, is Christ and His Church, where true equality is found at the foot of the Cross. Our hope is that the Dr Ubu Ana Black Women In STEM and Aspire Young Innovator Awards programmes will encourage whole-life discipleship and equip the awardees with transformational leadership skills so they can step out boldly in faith, with vision and integrity, making a positive impact wherever God sends them.