In September 2019, Project H.A.L.O, a family foundation created by Funke and Kola Karim, began its partnership with Generating Genius, a charity that supports disadvantaged from BAME backgrounds to progress into degrees and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths).
Three A-level students from the UniGenius program (aged 16-18) were chosen to receive scholarships of £15,000 – £25,000, and one student receiving a £5,000 bursary through an intensive selection process after receiving offers to study STEM degrees at Russell Group Universities in August 2019.
Explaining why she and her husband, Mr. Karim set up the scholarship, Mrs. Karim says: “Project H.A.L.O was founded to formalize the various areas in which, as a family, we support through finances, time and intellectual contribution.”
“It is a family Foundation that began in Nigeria to assist other organizations working with the less opportune and the disenfranchised. In the UK, Project H.A.L.O hopes to transform the lives of B.A.M.E. youth through assistance in education and training programs.”
She adds: “As a Nigerian, giving back is part of our culture even if it’s just in the extended family sphere. As a Christian, I believe that I am a channel through whom God can transform lives and to whom much is given, much more is expected.”
The cost associated with studying for a degree can impact both the decisions HE entrants make with regards to their course of study and how well they are likely to do in their degrees as a result of taking on paid work to support themselves financially.
BAME students are less likely to attend higher-tariff universities or achieve a first-class degree than white students. Across all subjects, 72% of White students who entered higher education with A-level grades of BBB gained a first or upper second-class degree. This compares with 56% for Asian students, and 53% for Black students, entering with the same A-level grades. This is where Generating Genius comes in. Most of our student’s household income is below £26,000 and we want to focus on helping those students to achieve their best at university without having their financial situations compromising their studies.
We had one of our scholarship candidates saying that: “I need this scholarship because I come from a low-income household. My father passed away when I was a baby so I live alone with my mum. As we are on benefits she cannot afford to pay my way in university. Our benefits can barely cover our living expenses, talkless of tuition fees, accommodation and other university’s costs. If I was awarded the scholarship, it would go towards paying my university expenses – either tuition fees, university accommodation, equipment, living expenses, etc.”
The H.A.L.O Project is currently providing scholarships to four students:
Temi, who is the student is studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Nottingham describes the scholarship opportunity as “very, very useful” as it has taken “a lot of pressure off of her financially. Not having to look for a job has allowed Temi to focus on her education a lot more which helps her to “stand out” among students who may have to split their time between work and study. Temi has been part of the Generating Genius program since she was 13 years old.
“Generating Genius will give you opportunities to learn about the different degrees that you have out there, the different courses and different paths that people have taken,” Temi says, “so it teaches you, especially from a young age that there isn’t just one path and whatever you have interest in, there’s something out there for you.”.
“My main benefit from Generating Genius was that it just allows you to see what’s out there in the working world and connects you from school to the working world.”
Generating Genius has developed over 450 BAME students go on to study STEM degrees and proceed into STEM careers since 2005. Students’ aspirations are raised to pursuing STEM careers through hosting workshops and masterclasses, partnering with big brands in order to provide work experience as well as offering support with university applications.
For 2019-20, in collaboration with Black Heart Foundation, Gilead Sciences and SThree we were able to award 10 additional scholarships do Generating Genius’ students.