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National Lottery boost for young digital leaders changing communities

A national charity supporting young people to learn digital skills to solve problems in their communities has received £1.2 million of National Lottery funding.

The grant has been awarded by the Big Lottery Fund and will give 200,000 young people across the UK access to a learning programme created by Apps for Good.

The programme takes place in schools, teaching students to build, market and launch digital products and tools to solve problems that matter to them.

One of Apps for Good’s first students was Mohima Ahmed. In 2010 she took part in an Apps for Good course at her school in Tower Hamlets, London.

She recognised that in her in local community there were many parents who did not speak English as a first language.

She developed an English-Bengali translator app to help teachers and parents communicate better. Its success inspired Mohima to change her career path to study Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College.

She now speaks regularly on technology and in 2015, Elle Magazine named her as one of their ‘30 Women under 30 who are Changing the World’. As a leader in her local community she also helps to run an Inventors Club to inspire other young technologists.

Speaking of the Apps for Good programme and Fellowship, Mohima Ahmed said: “Through my years as a fellow, I've been introduced to experts in every field - from technology, to finance, through to fashion. The connection with other fellows also means that I have my generation’s next Zuckerberg in my contact list. In every interview I've had these past six years, I find myself speaking about Apps for Good and my experiences as a fellow far more than I do about my degree!”

Recent reports have highlighted that there remains a large gap in the number of girls and women pursuing careers in technology.

Since it launched in 2010, Apps for Good has worked with 100,000 students aged 10 to 18, 50 per cent of whom are girls.

Using the £1.2 million of National Lottery funding, the organisation will focus on reaching out to young people in remote and underprivileged communities and more female students.

Joe Ferns, UK Portfolio Director at the Big Lottery Fund said: “It’s brilliant to see National Lottery funding enabling Apps for Good to give even more young people across the UK the opportunity to develop digital skills. We’re really impressed by the programme’s innovative approach to putting young people in the lead, empowering them to use their skills as a force for good in their communities.”

Last week, the winners of the 2017 Apps for Good Awards were announced at a ceremony held at the Barbican Centre in London. These awards celebrate the commitment and talent of young people who are putting their digital skills to use for good.

The winners will receive sponsorship from SAP and Thomson Reuters to develop and launch their digital products on the market, or mentoring and support from Virgin Red and Holly Branson.

SAP and Thomson Reuters, along with other companies such as Spotify, are all part of Apps for Good’s Fellowship Community which connects 1,300 industry experts and corporate partners.

This network gives young people access to hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and technology, while also supporting them to become leaders in their own community.

The new National Lottery funding will enable Apps for Good to grow this community.

Heather Picov, UK Managing Director of Apps for Good said, “We are thrilled to receive this support from the National Lottery to scale our programme across the UK, especially to reach those young people experiencing barriers to their success. Our mission is to unlock the confidence and talent of young people right across the UK, supporting them to become leaders in their communities and thrive in a tech-driven future.

“We want to create a more diverse and inclusive network of young people that are able to improve their lives, those of their peers and their communities through knowing how to create tech for good.”

Schools can sign-up here to get involved with Apps for Good.

Notes to editors

  1. According to a 2016 report by the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, the UK faces a digital skills crisis and the European Commission has predicted there will be 756,000 unfilled ICT vacancies by 2020.

  2. There remains a large gap in the number of girls and women pursuing careers in technology: research by Deloitte predicted that fewer than 25% of IT jobs in developed countries will be held by women by end of 2016, and there were eight times more male than female students taking Computing A-Level in 2016.
  3. Recent reports from McKinsey Global Institute and PwC have also warned of the need to prepare young people for an uncertain future of work with the rapid pace of change in the technology sector, including the growth of automation and artificial intelligence.

Apps for Good

  • Apps for Good launched in 2010 in the UK, reaching over 1000 UK schools and 100,000 students and recruiting over 1,300 industry professionals who work across industry from small start-ups to large global corporations as volunteers.

  • Apps for Good runs its programme with primary and secondary schools and learning centres across the UK and selected countries internationally. The charity provides educators with course content and online training, and links to its network of volunteers who support the students on their projects. Access to the programme and all materials are free for non-fee paying schools.
  • Apps for Good has a strong history of being supported by a network of foundations, trusts and corporate partners including the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Comic Relief, Thomson Reuters, SAP and Spotify.
  • The Fellowship Community is Apps for Good’s alumni network, open to all students who participate in the programme. The Fellowship connects young people to real world experience in entrepreneurship and technology, helping them to enhance self-knowledge and individual purpose, and grow their leadership and community problem solving skills. The programme was first piloted in 2015; there are currently 330 students in the network, 50% of whom are girls.
  • Find Apps for Good on Twitter at @appsforgood

Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects. It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year it awarded £583 million and supported around 12,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes. Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.


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