Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has made a personal pledge of £20 million to a new charity aimed at empowering young people from under-represented groups in the U.K..
Hamilton’s new charity, Mission 44, was launched on Tuesday and is committed to creating opportunities for young people from under-represented backgrounds by “supporting organisations and programmes that narrow the gap in employment and education systems, through partnerships, collaborations, grant giving and advocacy”.
Mission 44 will use the findings of the recent Hamilton Commission, which was set up by Hamilton to better understand the barriers Black people face forging a career in U.K. motorsport, but the charity is committed to supporting other under-represented groups too.
It will work in conjunction with a new joint charitable foundation between Hamilton and the Mercedes Formula One team, called Ignite, which was also launched on Tuesday.
Ignite aims to increase diversity in motorsport by helping fund initiatives in Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) education.
Hamilton, who is F1’s only Black driver, has pledged £20 million of his own money to Mission 44’s work and hopes it will provide more opportunities for young people hoping to make a career in motorsport.
“Supporting the ambitions of underrepresented young people has always been important to me and Mission 44 represents my commitment to create real change within this community,” Hamilton said. “In my early life, I experienced first-hand how coming from an underrepresented background can affect your future but, luckily for me, I was able to overcome those odds through opportunity and support. I want to ensure that other young people from similar backgrounds are able to do the same.
“I am so grateful that Mercedes are joining me on our initiative Ignite, with the goal to improve representation within the motorsport industry. The findings of The Hamilton Commission and its recommendations have provided us with a fantastic basis to begin our work. Change within the industry is long overdue, but we are now firmly on the journey towards transforming it for the better.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolf added: “We are delighted and proud to be standing alongside Lewis today for the announcement of Mission 44 and the Ignite initiative. Lewis has long spoken about the challenges he has faced in motorsport.
“His determination to turn his experience into such powerful and decisive action is a measure of both his character and his unwavering commitment to support people to fulfil their potential. At Mercedes, we have listened and worked closely with Lewis over the last year to understand how we can help open up our sport to achieve a more diverse and inclusive workforce within our own team.
“The opportunity to work together through Ignite, with Mission 44 and our own Accelerate 25 programme, is both exciting and challenging. We are looking forward to getting started and hope our actions will enable many more people to experience the thrills of motorsport in the future.”