Passport to Change: the Virgin Atlantic Foundation pledges £2.5 million to support charities

Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
14 September 2021

The Virgin Atlantic Foundation (VAF) has pledged £2.5 million over five years to support science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) initiatives for young people through its Passport to Change programme.

Designed to empower the next generation to fulfil their potential, the relaunched Passport to Change programme will provide access to STEM learning for young people through school engagement, grants and scholarships. Working with new charity partners Speakers for Schools, The Smallpeice Trust and UK for UNHCR, VAF will inspire and empower young people to engage with STEM education and build career skills for the future.

Sophie Kelly (Technical Operations Engineer) in the flight deck
Virgin Atlantic

“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,” Estelle Hollingsworth, chief people officer, Virgin Atlantic, commented. “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, through the Virgin Atlantic Foundation, with their 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.”

Estelle Hollingsworth
Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic works with young people from three schools – Thomas Bennett Community College in Crawley, Pentrehafod School in Swansea and Luther J Price Middle School in Atlanta – see the breadth of the aviation industry. Thanks to VAF funding, Speakers for Schools has designed a year-long programme with modules showcasing what happens behind the scenes of an airline, how planes fly, as well as exploring sustainable aviation and decarbonisation. The ambition is to increase the network of partner schools across the UK and international communities to reach more young people.

Through its partnership with The Smallpeice Trust, VAF will focus on increasing student engagement in STEM subjects, in particular engineering. The airline will sponsor scholars in The Smallpeice Trust’s Arkwright Scholarship programme and sponsor a short residential programme in 2022 where young people will get the chance to explore the world of STEM.

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, speaking to students at Crawley’s Thomas Bennett Community College in February 2020
Virgin Atlantic

In addition to these programmes, VAF has teamed up with UK for UNHCR to protect and empower refugees through the work of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. UNHCR protects people fleeing conflict and persecution around the world and helps them to access education and employment so they can rebuild their lives. Throughout 2021 and 2022, VAF will support 2,000 young refugees in Delhi, including displaced Afghans, with an accelerated learning programme before expanding the partnership to support university STEM scholarships for refugees around the world.

Visit Virgin Atlantic to find out more about the Virgin Atlantic Foundation and Passport to Change.