Four years ago, in the summer of 2016, the Reading List Foundation awarded our first 12 Scholarships to exceptional Year 13 students. In this summer-like-no-other we will award close to 250. And thanks to a recent grant from the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) we are on track to award even more in 2021.

The Scholarships, in the form of a £250 book e-voucher, are awarded to outstanding Year 13 students from across England just as they step up to university. The students are chosen by their school or college (which in turn are chosen by our donors and ourselves), either on the basis of absolute academic achievement, or relative academic achievement while overcoming real personal challenges (or both), and all are from lower-income backgrounds.

“She has been one of those students who we’ve seen truly blossom in Post-16. Far too often we talk about a lack of resilience in young people, however this is not always the case, and students like her are living proof of that. We are very proud of her achievements and progress.”

“He is so worthy of this award – in 22 years of teaching I have never met a young man like him. He is academically gifted and socially outstanding, creative, imaginative, industrious, determined and totally committed.”

“Despite their living arrangements (being placed in emergency accommodation), she always has a bright smile on her face, and is always willing to help other students, particularly those younger than herself through our mentoring scheme. In addition to this, she is predicted all A* and A grades.”

Our inspiration back in 2016 was clear – we felt convinced that there was an untapped pool of goodwill among preceding generations who would be delighted to help today’s young people succeed at university in the face of even steeper financial challenges. We have donors supporting Scholarships at their old school, in the area they grew up in, and in their local communities, as well as significant support from various Charitable Trusts (and, now, the CLA). As a result of the tremendous support of our donors, we are now able to support students from almost every corner of England, and refreshingly over half our Scholarships go to schools that don’t have any existing comparable financial awards or prizes.

The impact of our Scholarships is clear – we regularly survey our Scholarship winners and well over 80% say the award made a ‘big difference’ in their first year at university – but the benefits are not just financial and academic. Students tell us that receiving the award was a real boost to their confidence, and a much-appreciated recognition of their efforts; on top of which we hope the Scholarships make for a notable addition to their CVs.

We are a small Charity (run purely by volunteers), but are growing and ambitious. The grant from the CLA will help provide a step-change in this progress. 

If anyone is interested in what we do, or would like to hear more, we’d love to hear from you.

Alan Terry