Seven-Time Formula One World Champion, Sir Lewis Hamilton, has announced the launch of Mission 44, a charitable foundation to support, champion and empower young people from underrepresented groups in the UK.

Mission 44 launches with a personal £20million pledge from Lewis, which will be used to support Mission 44’s work, including supporting organisations and programmes that narrow the gap in employment and education systems, through partnerships, collaborations, grant giving and advocacy.

Throughout his career, Lewis has consistently championed the need for greater equality, showing his support to a number of important causes. The launch of Mission 44 marks Lewis’ ambition to play an even more proactive role in achieving this goal. This has been amplified further by the events of 2020, which saw the world call for a fairer and more just world for the Black community and the recent findings of The Hamilton Commission, a research report into improving Black representation in UK motorsport. Lewis’ brand partners and sponsors have also supported him in his drive for better equality and, in addition to Lewis’ pledge of £20million, will be making contributions to further boost funds and support the foundation’s activity.

Mission 44 will take into account research conducted by The Hamilton Commission, which found that young, Black people face a wide range of societal barriers which prevent them from realising their full potential. Mission 44 will be committed to directly addressing some of these issues, but it also understands the need to support other underrepresented groups who are at risk of being left behind. Many young people across wider society suffer from under representation, discrimination or disadvantage and Mission 44 will work to collaborate with, fund or set up programmes to help address a range of issues which affect future generations. It is Lewis’ belief that all young people, no matter their background, should be empowered to dream the impossible.

To create a strong and strategic focus to its work, Mission 44 will tie its projects to the three pillars;

● Representation: Shine a spotlight on the experiences of young people from underrepresented groups, supporting their access to, and progress in, spaces, professions and sectors that historically have poor levels of diversity.

● Progression: Through programmes, advocacy and research, Mission 44 will support the development of better pathways for underrepresented young people across all aspects of society to achieve and thrive, with a focus on those most at risk of being left behind.

● Empowerment: Work with young people and a wide range of organisations to support initiatives that amplify the voices of young people from underrepresented groups to influence decision-making and support them to take action on social causes they are passionate about.

Lewis began his journey within motorsport as an obvious minority. He has travelled a lonely path as the first and only Black driver to race in Formula 1 and this has made him a passionate advocate to make the industry more inclusive for those who follow after him. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team has supported Lewis’ ambition in this space and, following the announcement at the beginning of this year, are now formalising their combined efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive team and sport through a joint initiative, Ignite. Inspired by the findings of the Hamilton Commission, Ignite will have a specific focus on improving the underrepresentation of diverse students studying STEM and engineering, as well as wider parts of the industry. Ignite will initially be funded by a multi-million-dollar fund created by Mercedes and Lewis.

The Ignite initiative will cover all projects and programmes to improve equality in the motorsport industry, while Mission 44 will have a broader scope to help young people focusing its work on wider societal impact areas including, narrowing education and employment gaps, increasing diversity of leadership and growing civic leadership. To support this focus, Mission 44 will engage young people and communities with lived experience of diversity and inclusion challenges, to better understand the opportunities for real change and innovation. Lewis will be making a commitment of £20million to fund the Foundation through its first years, alongside partner contributions and additional fundraising.

Mission 44 has appointed Jason Arthur as CEO. Jason will lead the Foundation, including its strategy, key projects and administration, to help deliver the organisation’s greater ambitions, vision and values. Jason has extensive experience in the education and youth sectors. Prior to joining Mission 44, he was Director of Strategy & Innovation at Youth Futures Foundation. Jason also acted as Deputy Chief Executive of youth social action charity Step Up To Serve, served as the Cabinet Member for Finance & Health for the London Borough of Haringey, worked in strategy at education charity Teach First, and taught in two secondary schools in London.

Founder of Mission 44, Lewis Hamilton says: "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.

“I am so grateful that Mercedes are joining me on our initiative Ignite, with the goal to improve representation within the motorsport industry. The findings of The Hamilton Commission and its recommendations have provided us with a fantastic basis to begin our work. Change within the industry is long overdue, but we are now firmly on the journey towards transforming it for the better.”

Mission 44 CEO, Jason Arthur says: “I am thrilled to have been appointed CEO of Lewis’ newly launched Foundation, Mission 44. 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.”

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Team Principal, Toto Wolf says: “We are delighted and proud to be standing alongside Lewis today for the announcement of Mission 44 and the Ignite initiative. Lewis has long spoken about the challenges he has faced in motorsport. His determination to turn his experience into such powerful and decisive action is a measure of both his character and his unwavering commitment to support people to fulfil their potential. At Mercedes, we have listened and worked closely with Lewis over the last year to understand how we can help open up our sport to achieve a more diverse and inclusive workforce within our own team. The opportunity to work together through Ignite, with Mission 44 and our own Accelerate 25 programme, is both exciting and challenging. We are looking forward to getting started and hope our actions will enable many more people to experience the thrills of motorsport in the future.”

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