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 significant economic and environmental positive impacts of giving girls, who would otherwise be excluded, access to 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. Educate Girls has identified that just 5% of villages in India hold 40%, or 1.6 million, of the out-of-school girl population. Over the next five years, involving an extensive ‘boots on the ground’ approach, Educate Girls will aim 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.

Together with a group of other prominent philanthropists, the Foundation has joined a collaborative funding initiative, the ‘Audacious Project’ (https://audaciousproject.org/about) to support this programme of work.

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 around 3.3 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 after having left school. The Foundation’s support, over 3 years, will enable CAMA to pioneer ways to combat the effects of climate change on children’s 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.

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; in 2019 this support was renewed with a grant of NOK 35 million for a further 5 years, until 2023, reflecting Strømme’s own 5-year planning cycle. 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 the next 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, and on a modest scale has commenced operations in Mali. 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 nonformal, 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.

Myanmar

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. 

The Mosvold-Martinus Trust

The Mosvold-Martinus Trust seeks to improve the lives of less privileged young people in Sri Lanka. It promotes self-reliance by providing support to allow such young people to become the agents of their own development and progress. The Foundation has funded the MM Trust’s “AKO Scholarship Program in Sri Lanka”, which provides scholarships to allow disadvantaged students to pursue higher education at university or through vocational or skills training. The most recent update on the MM Trust’s AKO Scholarship Program in Sri Lanka can be found here

Partnership for Change

Partnership for Change is a Norwegian nonprofit 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 is supporting Lively Minds’ work in both Ghana and Uganda.

Loden Education Trust

The Loden Foundation is a Bhutanese nonprofit foundation whose goal is to foster “an enlightened and happy society [in Bhutan] through promotion of education, social entrepreneurship and Bhutan’s culture and tradition”. Through a connected UK charity, the Loden Education Trust, the Foundation made a 3-year grant towards the Loden Foundation’s work advancing educational opportunities in Bhutan. This includes improving access to education for very young children in remote areas of Bhutan; providing bursary support to enable children from village communities to attend, and remain in, school; and a scholarship programme to allow students from disadvantaged families to pursue higher education, whether in Bhutan or abroad.

Little Sun Foundation

The Little Sun Foundation, a German non-profit organisation, occupies a special space in the art of its founder, the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, whose recent exhibition ‘In Real Life’ at Tate Modern was supported by the AKO Foundation. 

As an artist Olafur uses a broad range of media to amplify his artistic voice, creating works that are tools for engaging both the perceptions and emotions of the audience. Uniting on-ground energy impact work with a global element of artistic communication, Little Sun was born out of the studio as a project that takes thinking to doing in a special way.

Little Sun’s solar lamps are real off-grid energy tools with a clear impact. Additionally, they are an emotional symbol of global interconnectedness, of sustainable energy, and of empowerment. Delivering light and energy to vulnerable or remote communities, these clean and renewable lamps, designed by Eliasson himself, allow students to undertake homework during hours of darkness, and thus to increase their study time and academic attainment. 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 Tanzania and Ethiopia. The success of these schemes resulted in the Foundation, in early 2020, agreeing to fund Little Sun, in partnership with the Education Ministries in each of these countries, in a more extensive distribution of lamps in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.

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 a child to work towards the future he or she wants. Accordingly, a fundamental part of their 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 currently supports the following programmes:

Careers Leaders

Teach First’s Careers and Employability Programme is unique in the education sector. It is the only programme providing 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. In 2019 a total of 89 pupils benefitted from this programme; it is intended that this number will increase substantially in 2020.

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 maths, science, languages 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

Ark also seeks to transform the lives of underprivileged 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

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 antisocial behaviour drops by between 30% and 77% around a Youth Zone. Having started in North West England, OnSide is now expanding 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 are meeting expectations in terms of the numbers of young people using the facilities, and activities being made available. 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 is supporting the rollout of ‘Primary Futures’, which will expand the charity’s work into primary schools. 

2030 Youth Obesity Alliance

The Foundation has previously made grants to support several Jamie Oliver Food Foundation initiatives: these have included 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. Most recently, the Foundation and the Jamie Oliver Group have together founded the 2030 Youth Obesity Alliance, otherwise known as Bite Back 2030. This newly established charity has the ambitious 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. This initiative follows on from a comprehensive review of the state of food education and food culture in English schools commissioned by the Foundation from the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and other expert bodies. ‘A Report on the Food Education Learning Landscape’, published in October 2017, identified stark variations in the quality of food education across schools alongside strong teacher, pupil and parent demand for a healthier school environment. A copy of this report here

Over the next year, 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 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 transformative new campus building, Tangen Hall, which 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. More information on Tangen Hall and the scholarship programme can be here

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 donations to the University of Pennsylvania (USA) Foundation Ltd, a UK charity.

Frontline

Frontline recruits, trains and supports outstanding individuals to become social workers through a 2-year programme. This provides a unique opportunity for high potential graduates and career changers to make a difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in England. The Foundation made a grant to support Frontline’s coaching programme for newly qualified social workers in their second year on the Frontline programme. The coaching sessions provide vital support at a highly challenging time, as these new social workers take on their own caseloads and move into new teams within children’s services.

London School of Economics

The Foundation has funded an academic project at the Department of Social Psychology at the London School of Economics to research how the corporate culture of companies affects their long term success. The project, extending over a number of years, looks to assess corporate culture using entirely “external” data sources without the need for intrusive activities such as extensive surveying of company employees. The results of this research, which could substantively advance the understanding of corporate culture, will in due course be submitted as papers for publication in the leading academic journals in the field. More details on this project can be accessed here

London Academy of Excellence

The sixth form college attended by Oliver (featured in the case study above) was the London Academy of Excellence, which primarily serves those with high academic potential from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds. In early 2020 the AKO Foundation made a grant to the LAE, to enable it to offer some of the extra-curricular activities and benefits enjoyed by pupils at some more established schools. LAE students are also offered internship opportunities at AKO Capital.

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 is also supporting the redevelopment of UCS’ sixth form centre.

The Girls’ Day School Trust

The Foundation has made grants to The Girls’ Day School Trust, the UK’s leading network of independent girls’ schools, to assist with the cost of building works at South Hampstead High School, one of the Girls’ Day School Trust’s schools, and to bring a variety of speakers to that school to inspire and motivate the students.

SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum

The SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum is a regional art institution, located in Kristiansand, Norway, which has collected high quality arts and crafts objects from its local area since its formation in 1995. SKMU has developed a wide range of educational activities including the establishment of a successful museum for children, The Children’s Art Museum, within its premises.

The Foundation has made a number of grants to SKMU to be used for the purchase of Norwegian glass, ceramics and similar art works, dating from 1930 onwards, for public display. It has also supported an initiative by SKMU to cover the cost of transport to bring 10,000 school children to the museum.

AKO Kunststiftelse

The Foundation is undertaking a major programme of support for AKO Kunststiftelse, a Norwegian non-profit foundation whose objective is to advance the public’s access to Nordic visual arts from 1900 onwards. To achieve this objective AKO Kunststiftelse is building a collection of such art for public exhibition and will give SKMU the right to use this collection free of charge and on a perpetual basis.