Stormzy has been taking us to school for a while now.
The grime star made the 2018 BRIT Awards all about the Grenfell Tower tragedy; he launched a publishing project to help young writers earn a platform; he paid for a young black woman to study at Harvard; he stopped his own festival in Ibiza to watch England beat Colombia on penalties.
All worthy ventures — and now the rapper is literally sending students to one of the world’s most prestigious universities, too.
The “Stormzy Scholarship” will pay for two black students to attend the University of Cambridge for up to four years of their undergraduate course.
Stormzy will fund one student himself, and brings on board YouTube Music to support the other, the BBC reports. All tuition fees will be paid for from this September, with a maintenance grant to support living expenses — and next year they’re already set do it all over again.
I am very very very proud to announce the launch of my new scholarship “The Stormzy Scholarship” in partnership with Cambridge University. With this scholarship we will be funding and covering the full tuition and maintenance for 2 black students this year and 2 black students in 2019 to study at Cambridge University. We as a minority are still heavily under represented at the top universities and I pray this scholarship serves as a reminder that we are more than capable of studying at places of this caliber. Congratulations to all the A-Level students getting their results today, be proud of yourselves despite what you got and overstand that this is only the tip of the iceberg for what’s to come! This is my proudest venture thus far and I look forward to seeing some young black geniuses go on to achieve at Cambridge via this scholarship. @cambridgeuniversity www.cam.ac.uk/stormzyscholarship for all info. Applications close on Thursday 30th August! #StormzyScholarship ❤️🙏🏿💪🏿
Stormzy, 25, announced the scholarship at his old school, Harris City Academy in Croydon, south London — on the same day that students all over the country found out their A-level exam results. Although he didn’t go to university himself, he was awarded six A*s, three As, and three Bs at GCSE level.
"In school and college I had the ability and was almost destined to go to one of the top universities,” Stormzy told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat. "But that didn't happen for myself ... so hopefully there's another young black student out there that can have that opportunity through my scholarship."
"I always said that there's a whole bunch of academically brilliant, excellent students who also need an incentive,” he added. "It's been like that and it's always going to be like that — where we're going to have young black students who are academically brilliant and smashing it, and they should just have that opportunity to walk into a university like Cambridge.”
Students must already have an offer to study at Cambridge to be eligible for the scholarship. The deadline to enter is Aug. 30 — and to apply for next year’s Cambridge’s intake, and therefore the 2019 scholarship, pupils should use the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) to submit an application by Oct. 15.
Successful applicants to the scholarship will be selected by a panel of staff from Cambridge University, according to the BBC.
#Stormzy heads back to his old school this morning to tell @BBCBreakfast all about the #StormzyScholarship. He’s paying tuition fees for four British black students to attend @Cambridge_Uni#ALevelResultsDay2018pic.twitter.com/15grLdS7dC— Ricky Boleto (@rickyboleto) August 16, 2018
Cambridge has a diversity problem. Between 2012 and 2016, there were undergraduate colleges that didn’t take in a single black student. Indeed, the Financial Times found that six of the university’s 29 colleges admitted fewer than 10 black British students in the last five years.
Last year, there were just 58 successful applications from black students to study on undergraduate courses at Cambridge.
Similarly, a quarter of colleges at Oxford didn’t take in a black British student between 2015 and 2017. And in 2015 specifically, one-third didn’t offer any places to black pupils, prompting Labour MP David Lammy to accuse the university of “social apartheid.”
Cambridge claims it doesn’t receive enough applications from black students, hinting at a wider structural problem that begins earlier in students’ school careers. It’s since asked parents and teachers to help bridge the gap.
“We as a minority are still heavily underrepresented at the top universities,” Stormzy wrote in an Instagram post. “And I pray this scholarship serves as a reminder that we are more than capable of studying at places of this caliber.”
THE MERKY FOUNDATION : STORMZY SCHOLARSHIP pic.twitter.com/WijBOsIOMH— FLIPZ (@Flipz100) August 16, 2018
On July 5, Stormzy also launched a publishing partnership with Penguin Random House called #Merky Books. The project will offer a summer internship, school writing competitions, and release three to four books every year.
"It sounds corny coming from a rapper, but I did love learning and I loved studying so I enjoyed that side of things," Stormzy said to BBC Newsbeat. "But also, I made some of the best friends of my life at school, and so many memories."
"My mum always had this plan of 'you're going to school and college, then you're going to go Cambridge’,” he added. "It didn't happen for me, so I feel that for me to get to this place in my career and be able to do something where we can help young black students get into Cambridge is a testimony to her hard work as well."
Stormzy said that the scholarship “in particular” made his mum proud — and she's not the only one. The announcement was greeted with huge enthusiasm online.
The rapper says: "It's so important for black students, especially, to be aware that it can 100% be an option to attend a university of this calibre."— Seyi Akiwowo (@seyiakiwowo) August 16, 2018
I love Stormzy! https://t.co/uvN8t0BBoz
The truth is black celebrities are using their presence and power to try and change structural racism and it is brilliant.— Tobi Oredein (@IamTobiOredein) August 16, 2018
On the flip side, star power shouldn’t be needed to ensure black people get the same chances as white counterparts or the opportunities they deserve.
Without bursaries/scholarships etc, I would not have been able to go to uni. And I know so many other similar stories from other black people. So what Stormzy is doing, SO IMPORTANT!— JALÉ-KAPO (@jalekapo) August 16, 2018