Sir Lewis Hamilton has launched a new charitable foundation and promised to donate £20m over the next few years to help young people from underrepresented groups.
Mission 44 is currently in the process of registering with the Charity Commission and has appointed a chief executive to run the organisation.
Hamilton recently published a report about improving Black representation in UK motorsport, which found that young, Black people face a wide range of societal barriers.
He said: “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.
“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.”
Mission 44 plans to fund and collaborate with others, as well as set up its own programmes. It has identified “three pillars” to focus its work around: representation, progression and empowerment.
Hamilton is one of the country’s most successful sports people. In 2020 the Sunday Times named him as the richest sports person with an estimated wealth of nearly £225m.
This week’s announcement says that Hamilton has pledged £20m to Mission 44 over “its first years”.
Hamilton’s brand partners have also said they will support the foundation and the charity will look at other ways to raise money.
One of the first projects Mission 44 will be involved with is a collaboration with Hamilton’s the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team.
This initiative, Ignite, will focus on access to science and engineering education. It will be jointly-funded by Hamilton and Mercedes.
Mission 44 has appointed Jason Arthur to run the charity’s strategy and operations.
Prior to joining Mission 44, he was director of strategy and innovation at Youth Futures Foundation.
He also acted as deputy chief executive of youth social action charity Step Up To Serve, served as the cabinet member for finance and health for the London Borough of Haringey, worked in strategy at education charity Teach First, and taught in two secondary schools in London.
Arthur said: “Ensuring that underrepresented young people receive the tools and support they need to succeed is something I have been passionate about my whole career. I look forward to working with Lewis, young people, and a range of partners to narrow opportunity gaps and drive long-lasting change.”