The Foundation believes that education is the key to a successful future both for individuals and for societies as a whole, and thus supports educational projects in both developing and developed regions of the world.

Developing Countries

The Foundation’s approach is not to select specific countries in which to operate; rather, it supports trusted partners in their work, enabling them to use their local knowledge, expertise, and networks to judge where an intervention will have the greatest, or most widespread, impact.  A number of large-scale studies have demonstrated the substantial economic and environmental positive impacts of giving girls, who would otherwise be disadvantaged or excluded, access to a good education; the Trustees therefore have a particular interest in this area.

Educate Girls

More than 4 million school-age girls in India alone regularly fail to attend the school where they belong – one of the largest such populations, out of a global total of around 130 million.  Yet a recent World Bank report showed that girls’ education, especially at secondary level, can be transformative in key areas, including earnings and standards of living; child marriage and early childbearing; health, nutrition and well-being; and agency and decision-making. 

Over the course of five years, involving an extensive ‘boots on the ground’ approach, Educate Girls aims to enrol 1.6 million girls back into school; improve learning outcomes within the school system by implementing a remedial and life-skills curriculum that will supplement the state curriculum; and strengthen the school governance system and its infrastructure so that the improved enrolment figures, once achieved, are sustained.  The Foundation has joined a collaborative funding initiative, together with a group of other prominent philanthropists, to support this project.

Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED)

CAMFED is a UK charity that tackles poverty and inequality through education, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa.  It supports marginalised girls to attend school, to succeed academically, and then, as young women, to realise their potential to be leaders of change.  In its 25 years of existence, CAMFED has helped more than 3 million children to attend school, and has recruited nearly 140,000 educated young women into the CAMFED Association (CAMA), where they are able to leverage investment in girls’ education by supporting even more girls to stay in school, and to thrive as young adults.   The Foundation made a grant over 3 years to enable CAMA to pioneer ways to combat the effects of climate change on health, welfare and education, through direct support to vulnerable children, alongside strategies to reduce vulnerability in the longer term; it is hoped that this approach will in due course prove to be replicable in other countries.  We subsequently made a second, unrestricted grant. 

Strømme Foundation

Strømme Foundation is a Norwegian development organisation that uses education to pursue its mission of creating a world free from poverty.  Its approach is holistic, working with children, adolescents and their families within selected communities, thereby strengthening sustainability and maximising impact.  The Foundation has supported Strømme since 2014.

The principal strands of Strømme’s work being supported by the Foundation are summarised below.

Educational work in Uganda: RISING project

With 1.2 million refugees, Uganda is Africa’s largest refugee-hosting country, with recent significant influxes from South Sudan, DRC and Burundi.  Among other problems, this creates a large out-of-school population among adolescents, particularly among girls, a large proportion of whom have suffered gender-based or sexual violence.  The RISING project seeks to enrol 100,000 children into formal education over 4 years.

Educational work in West Africa

The Foundation continues to support Strømme’s work in Burkina Faso and Niger, two of the world’s poorest and least developed nations.  School attendance and literacy rates in these countries are low and female literacy rates are less than 20%.  Without even a primary education, children lack the skills and knowledge required to improve their situation and are likely to remain impoverished for the remainder of their lives.

The programmes implemented by Strømme with funding from the Foundation and other donors provide out of school children, half of whom are girls, with accelerated learning courses designed to get them to the educational level necessary to enrol in formal school.  It also includes the “A Saving for Change” programme which targets the mothers of these children and gives them the opportunity to save and obtain loans that may be used for educational expenses, to generate income, for health care and to enhance food security.

SAMVAD programme

SAMVAD means ‘dialogue’ (in Sanskrit) and is a non-formal, community based, participatory education system designed especially for adolescent girls at risk of dropping out of school and being trafficked.   At SAMVAD centres, the girls follow a course that includes life skills, functional literacy, building self-confidence and vocational skills. The Foundation is supporting Strømme’s existing SAMVAD programme in Nepal and Bangladesh.  It is also supporting the development of this programme in West Africa, where there are countries with some of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.


Strømme’s DREAM (Development and Rehabilitation of the Economy of the Poor through Alternative Means) project continues to work with 3,000 of the poorest families in the Ayeyarwaddy district, including the tribal Karen community.  

A new programme, SEEDS (Socio Economic Empowerment with Dignity and Sustainability), in the same region of Myanmar, will use a broadly similar approach, working with around 1,000 families, many of which are likely to be landless and / or headed by a female family member, in order to bring them out of extreme poverty into a sustainable socio-economic future.

Partnership for Change

Partnership for Change is a Norwegian non-profit organisation that works for the economic independence of women in Myanmar and Ethiopia.   Although, in theory, Ethiopia’s educational policy gives boys and girls equal access to education, in practice – and particularly in rural communities – boys are given priority.  To address this inequality and the unmet educational needs of such girls, the Foundation is funding an intensive programme of financial support and academic and life skills training in rural Ethiopia to prevent girls from deprived backgrounds from dropping out of high school.

Lively Minds

Lively Minds, a UK charity, works in remote rural villages in Africa and trains ‘Volunteer Mothers’ to run free and informal play schemes for all pre-school children in their villages.  The Volunteer Mothers are also given monthly parenting workshops to help them provide better care at home.  A recent evaluation of their work by the Centre for the Evaluation of Development Policy at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reported that “overall, the findings suggest that the Lively Minds program is an effective and potentially scalable way to improve children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development, health, and school readiness”. The Foundation supports Lively Minds’ work in both Ghana and Uganda.

Little Sun Foundation

The Little Sun Foundation is a German non-profit organisation, founded by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson.  Little Sun creates solar-powered hand-held lamps, designed by Eliasson himself; they can be charged during the day and allow work to be undertaken during hours of darkness.  The solar lamps also provide significant health and economic benefits, as they replace harmful kerosene lamps and expensive torches. 

The Foundation has made grants to enable Little Sun to provide solar lamps to students in several African countries, to allow them to undertake homework, and thus to increase their study time and academic attainment. 

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) is the world’s largest voluntary Movement dedicated to girls and young women.  For more than 100 years Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting has transformed the lives of girls and young women, supporting and empowering them to achieve their fullest potential and to become responsible citizens of the world.  The Movement now represents ten million girls and young women from 150 countries, helping them through innovative non-formal education programmes, leadership development, advocacy and community action, thereby empowering girls and young women to develop the skills and confidence needed to make positive changes in their lives, their communities and countries.

The Foundation is supporting a new programme designed by WAGGGS, which will be implemented in partnership with local Guiding Associations, initially in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa.  It aims to increase awareness of climate related issues, to support direct adaptation and mitigation action at community or national level, and to increase the future capacity for women to take leadership roles in climate change response.

The UK and other developed countries

Teach First

Teach First is a UK charity whose mission is to end educational inequality.  Teach First believes that changing the life of a child often starts with the dedication and leadership of a great teacher who inspires the child to work towards the future he or she wants.  Accordingly, a fundamental part of its work is the recruitment, training and support of new teachers to work in schools serving low-income communities across England and Wales.  Its success in inspiring some of the country’s best graduates to choose to work in these schools has been remarkable; Teach First is now one of the largest graduate recruiters in the United Kingdom.

The Foundation has worked with Teach First since 2014, and continues to support the following programmes:

Careers Leaders

Teach First’s Careers and Employability Programme provides a comprehensive programme of training for teachers that combines careers expertise and leadership development, and which participants can immediately apply within a school setting. The programme is focused on schools where a high proportion of pupils live in poverty and aims to advance the quality of careers education, enabling schools to design and implement a high-quality, whole school programme that ultimately increases their pupils’ employability.

Work experience

A study published in the Journal of Education and Work showed that a young adult who has four or more contacts with employers could be expected to earn £3,600 p.a. more than his or her peers who had no such contacts.  Teach First’s work experience programme, an idea instigated by the AKO Foundation, provides a programme of week-long, paid work experience placements for pupils from schools in which Teach First works at a wide range of organisations, including AKO Capital.  The programme has of course been disrupted by the pandemic, but it is hoped that it will resume during the course of 2021. 

Leading Together

It is generally acknowledged that the quality of school leadership has a very significant impact on the future performance of a school. Leading Together is a two-year programme of support for schools in areas of greatest need to build and sustain strong and effective senior leadership teams. It is unique in its bespoke support for a school’s entire senior leadership team over a sustained period. The ultimate objective is to improve pupil attainment by improving teacher retention, often a significant problem, and the quality of teaching throughout the school.

Now Teach

Now Teach shares Teach First’s objective of reducing educational inequality.  One of the biggest problems facing secondary schools is a shortage of maths, science and language teachers.   Whereas Teach First seeks to address this need by recruiting some of the country’s best graduates, Now Teach recruits and supports high calibre, experienced professionals, who have already had one successful career, as teachers in these and other shortage subjects.  Working in challenging schools across the country, they not only increase teaching capacity, but also bring vital links to employers, universities and other post-school options.  The Foundation has made a grant to help Now Teach expand its work and reach more disadvantaged areas across the United Kingdom. 


Ark also seeks to transform the lives of under-privileged children by providing a great education. While Teach First and Now Teach focus on the teacher, Ark’s focus is on the school: it runs 37 Academy schools, at both primary and secondary levels, in the UK.  Its schools are in areas of economic deprivation with a history of educational underachievement, which Ark seeks to change by setting high academic and behavioural expectations, thus providing more time for learning and improving the quality of teaching.

The Foundation has worked with Ark since 2015 and is currently funding the Music and Drama studio to be located in the redeveloped Ark Swift Primary Academy in White City, London.  The studio will provide pupils and staff at the school with a dedicated performing arts space. The rebuilding of Ark Swift is part of a wider development, EdCity. This is a capital project led by Ark, which will create a new education-focused campus, incorporating an expanded nursery school; the redeveloped Ark Swift Primary; an Onside Youth Zone (see below); an adult education learning centre; residential units, the majority of which will be affordable; and an office building to house social enterprises and charities with shared missions.

The Foundation also provides funding for Ark’s Pathways & Enrichment project which supports and encourages students at Ark schools to aim for and reach the university or career of their choice.  A number of AKO Capital partners and staff have volunteered their time and experience to help with different strands of this initiative, or to act as a governor of an Ark school.

Brilliant Club

Founded in 2011 by alumni of Teach First, The Brilliant Club works with over 700 schools helping high-potential students from under-represented backgrounds to attain places at top UK universities.  The ‘Scholars Programme’ recruits, trains and places PhD researchers to deliver university-style courses, based on their research, to small groups of pupils aged 9-17.  The pupils also visit two highly selective universities, and write a final assignment of 1,000-2,500 words, depending on their age group.  A study undertaken by UCAS showed that pupils who successfully complete the Scholars Programme are nearly twice as likely to progress to a highly selective university as a control group based on GCSE attainment and socio-demographics.

The Foundation is supporting the Brilliant Club’s work in schools in East Anglia, a region that it had identified as a specific area of need as part of its commitment to working with schools in rural and coastal communities.

This charity was introduced to the Foundation by an analyst at AKO Capital who serves as a trustee of The Brilliant Club.


OnSide provides modern, world class, custom-built youth centres (‘Youth Zones’) for young people aged 8–19 (up to 25 for those with additional needs).  Located in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, the Youth Zones offer a wide range of sport, art and enterprise activities, giving young people somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to.  An independent study found that anti-social behaviour drops by between 30% and 77% around a Youth Zone.

Having started in North West England, OnSide has lately expanded into London.  The Foundation made a grant to help establish the Youth Zones in Barnet, and in Barking & Dagenham.  Both opened in mid-2019 and, having initially met expectations in terms of the numbers of young people using the facilities, had to adjust rapidly during 2020 in order to offer distanced and remote provision.  Elsewhere in London, OnSide has also recently opened a Youth Zone in Croydon, and is developing one in White City, as part of the EdCity development (as referred to above).

Education and Employers

Education and Employers provides young people with the inspiration and motivation that they need in order to achieve their potential.  By connecting schools and colleges with employers, it alerts young people to possible career paths of which they may not otherwise be aware, and demonstrates the link between academic studies and the skills and qualifications required for employment.   The Foundation supports ‘Primary Futures’, which takes the charity’s work into primary schools. 

Bite Back 2030

The Foundation previously made grants to support several Jamie Oliver Food Foundation initiatives, including the Kitchen Garden Project, Food Revolution Day, the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation Global Ambassador Programme, Workplace and University Cooking Programmes, and The Food Education Learning Landscape.

Latterly, the Foundation and the Jamie Oliver Group together founded the 2030 Youth Obesity Alliance, otherwise known as Bite Back 2030, with the goal of halving the rate of childhood obesity in the United Kingdom by 2030, while at the same time eliminating the gap in obesity rates between children from more and less affluent backgrounds. 

Bite Back aims to build a youth movement that will have sufficient authenticity and critical mass so that it can act as a credible advocate to government (national and local), schools, hospitals and other entities delivering food on a large scale to young people, and will make progress towards identifying the creative medium or media through which to engage key audiences.  The Foundation continues to provide core support.


Frontline recruits, trains and supports outstanding individuals to become social workers through a 2-year programme which gives an opportunity for high-potential graduates and career changers to make a difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in England.  Frontline has trained more than 1,000 social workers since its inception in 2013.

The Foundation provides unrestricted support.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

The Foundation has an ongoing relationship with the internationally renowned Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  The Foundation and Nicolai Tangen privately have to date endowed undergraduate scholarships to support 22 international students who would otherwise be unable to meet the cost of their education. The scholarships benefit the individual recipients and, due to the recipients’ global background and international perspective, enrich the student community. Their education will also benefit the communities and organisations they go on to lead after graduating.

The Foundation has made a major grant to spearhead construction of a new campus building, Tangen Hall, which when opened in 2021 will provide the first ever space dedicated to cross-campus student entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania.  Tangen Hall will provide a facility where a diverse group of problem solvers are brought together to implement efficient, sustainable and actionable solutions to the challenges facing societies around the world. 

The Foundation has also:

  • Supported a series of Wharton School reports which examine business ethics, advocating ethical best practice and tools to make ethical business practice possible. These reports are distributed by the School’s online business journal, Knowledge@Wharton, and are freely available to all interested parties;
  • Provided financial support for the ‘Wharton People Analytics’ and ‘Behavior Change for Good’ initiatives which are designed to advance the practice of evidence-based management and decision making and address the question of how changes in behaviour can be made to stick; and
  • Made annual grants to the Wharton Fund to help the School provide opportunities to its faculty, students and alumni.

The Foundation’s support of the Wharton School is effected via grants to the University of Pennsylvania (USA) Foundation Ltd, a UK charity.

London Academy of Excellence

The Foundation now supports the London Academy of Excellence in both Stratford and Tottenham, sixth form colleges which primarily serve those with high academic potential from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds.  The Foundation’s grants enable both Academies to offer some of the extra-curricular activities and benefits enjoyed by pupils at some more established schools. 

University College School, Hampstead

University College School, Hampstead was founded to promote the Benthamite principles of liberal scholarship.  The Foundation previously supported the redevelopment of UCS’ library: this has created a flexible and multifunctional library space able to support both individual study and collaborative work, while also providing an important resource for UCS’ partner schools, including the London Academy of Excellence, UCL Academy and Westminster Academy.  The Foundation has more recently supported the redevelopment of UCS’ sixth form centre.

Royal Springboard Foundation

The Royal Springboard Foundation identifies, prepares and supports pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds – children and teenagers in or on the edge of care, or growing up in households and communities where opportunities to flourish are limited – to benefit from a boarding school education.  It partners with schools across the country and arranges for 110% bursary places (those that cover all fees and extras) to be offered.  In addition to lifting individual life chances, its work demonstrates the beneficial role that boarding, whether in the private or state sector, can play in addressing socio-economic mobility.

The Foundation made its first grant to Royal Springboard during the year.

University of the Arts

UAL has been a long-standing partner of the Foundation, as described below under ‘Arts’,

In recent years, UAL has established a new model of academic delivery, UAL Institutes, which overlay UAL’s six acclaimed art and design colleges.  UAL is now in the process of establishing a new Institute – Storytelling.  It is intended that this will become an influential academic leader in a wide range of narrative disciplines, while also enhancing UAL’s public programme and audience engagement, ultimately leading to rigorous research approaches to a range of vital and topical subjects, such as the public and policy narratives around climate change, the refugee crisis or pandemics, and matters such as misinformation, fake news and information overload.

The Foundation’s grant will provide the seed funding for the Institute’s first few years.

Stiftelsen Fullriggeren Sørlandet

Stiftelsen Fullriggeren Sørlandet is a Norwegian educational non-profit foundation which owns, maintains, and preserves the Tall Ship Sørlandet.  This vessel has been more or less continually in use as an educational facility for 100 years; it now requires to be upgraded to meet modern safety, environmental and conservation standards.  Meanwhile, the cancellation of a school year because of the Covid-19 pandemic has also allowed the foundation to refresh the curriculum, and to seek ways to broaden the diversity of students attending the on-board Academy, particularly those from countries other than Norway.

The Foundation’s grant will fund the re-design of the curriculum, and will also provide bursary funding for international students who would not otherwise be able to attend.

AKO Foundation