Virgin Atlantic recently announced its pledge of £2.5 million through customer donations over five years to support STEM initiatives with grants, sponsorships and investments through its Passport to Change programme.
Working with new charity partners, Speakers for Schools, The Smallpeice Trust and UK for UNHCR, the airline’s community programme aims to inspire and empower young people from all corners of society to engage with STEM education and build career skills for the future in science, technology, engineering, and maths.
Designed to empower the next generation to fulfil their potential through education, the relaunched Passport to Change programme provides access to STEM learning for young people through a combined model of direct school engagement, grants and scholarships.
The ambition of the Passport to Change programme is to grow its presence across destinations and, through charity partnerships, encourage social mobility and close the difference between the majority and minority groups, creating opportunities to address inequity in educational learning.
Estelle Hollingsworth, chief people officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “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.
“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 with our 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.”
Jason Elsom, chief executive officer at Speakers for Schools added: “We are proud to partner with Virgin Atlantic for this first-of-its-kind immersive programme, allowing young people to experience every aspect of the aviation industry with such an iconic brand.
"Passport to Change will open the door for young people to an exciting industry and meet the experts leading the way at Virgin Atlantic.”
As part of the programme, Virgin Atlantic has teamed up with Speakers for Schools, a charity aiming to end educational inequality and level the playing field for all young people.
As part of the collaboration, this pioneering year-long programme has been created to ensure young people from its three partner schools - Thomas Bennett Community College in Crawley, Pentrehafod School in Swansea and Luther J Price Middle School in Atlanta - see the entire breadth of the aviation industry.
Across the 10 months of the full programme, students will be engaged through a mixture of in-person and online events with modules showcasing what happens behind the scenes of an airline, how planes fly, as well as exploring sustainable aviation and decarbonisation.
It is estimated that the economic benefit to communities served is over £29 million over the lifetime of the young people who have utilised the programme.
Over time, the ambition is to increase the network of partner schools across the UK and international communities, bringing the programme to a wider audience of young people.
The students of Thomas Bennett Community College, aged 12-15 years old, met staff and aviation experts of Virgin Atlantic to kick off the programme which will help them learn about skills and careers needed in the aviation industry.
The day, which was led by Virgin Atlantic and Speakers for Schools introduced students to the programme, as well as offered insight into the future of aviation.
In attendance, were volunteers from Virgin Atlantic, which included cabin crew, pilots and engineers to engage with students during mini-break out sessions about learning outcomes and communications.