When Stormzy called out Theresa May at the 2018 BRIT Awards over her inaction in helping the survivors of Grenfell Tower — the tower block blaze in London that killed at least 72 people — he channelled a rage that resonated across the country.
That familiar fury against structural inequalities rose again last week as students in the UK opened their A-level results.
Since exams had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, final grades were awarded by a controversial algorithm which systematically marked down students from disadvantaged backgrounds in contrast to their wealthier peers.
And once again, Stormzy has lifted his head above the parapet — with concrete action and investment that aims to do its part in redressing the imbalance in the education system.
The Mercury-nominated rapper has donated £500,000 to the Black Heart Foundation, an organisation that improves education access for underprivileged children and young people.
It will offer cash grants to 50 students who need financial backing to undertake an educational activity. The pupils can be of any age; the support isn’t just for university fees; and although the vast majority of students the foundation helps are from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, anybody from an under-resourced background can apply.
On June 7, Stormzy joined Black Lives Matter protests in London. The following week, he committed to donate £10 million to Black British causes over the next 10 years.
This donation marks the start of that "lifetime commitment" to use his #MERKY empire — a brand that encompasses his music, fashion, festivals, publishing businesses, and more — to fight for racial equality, justice reform, and Black empowerment within the UK.
It follows numerous interventions from Stormzy on the topic of education inequality in Britain. In 2017, he donated £9,000 to help a young Black woman from south London study at Harvard in the US, for example.
The Black Heart Foundation’s Each Day. Every Day campaign will be the first UK charity to receive money from the fund.— Channel 5 News (@5_News) August 17, 2020
Ric Lewis, founder of the Black Heart Foundation, said the money will help "another 50 young people, taking the total number of scholars we can help to 250".
Then in 2018 and 2019, he paid for two Black students each year to attend the University of Cambridge, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, for the entirety of a four-year undergraduate course as part of the "Stormzy Scholarship".
And during the first year of the scholarship, he launched #MERKY Books to help young writers from underrepresented communities get their first big publishing break.
"The Black Heart Foundation is an incredible charity and we are proud to make them the first beneficiary to receive funding from our £10 million pledge," said a spokesperson for the the #MERKY Foundation — the organisation founded to coordinate Stormzy’s charitable endeavours.
"Their 'Each Day. Every Day.' campaign is a brilliant initiative and we are elated that our £500,000 donation has played a key part in helping them achieve their target," they added. "We encourage others to donate whatever they can to help change a young person’s life."
According to the Guardian, 100 scholarships have been handed out by the Black Heart Foundation since 2013. The organisation has helped students travel to distant schools, train to be airline pilots, and ensured they could focus on academic work without needing to get a job while they were completing their studies.
"We are grateful to the #MERKY Foundation and invigorated by their generosity," said Ric Lewis, the businessman who founded the Black Heart Foundation. "Their contribution is an amazing testament to their vision and commitment to higher and further education for ambitious, hard-working young people from the most under-resourced and underrepresented communities in our society."