The Mary Ann McCracken Foundation and Belfast Charitable Society have come together to offer a new bursary programme for post primary schools in North Belfast. The bursaries will be targeted at 16+ year olds who face financial barriers which may prevent them from continuing to AS / A-Level, further or higher education, employment or apprenticeship. The bursaries will be administered by each of the 12 post primary schools in the North Belfast area, and will support a minimum of 22 pupils.
Norma Sinte, Chair of the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation, explained “We often ask ourselves ‘what would Mary Ann do today’? Living to the ripe old age of 96 she was a fierce proponent of the poor of Belfast, fighting to ensure they had access to opportunities in education, training and apprenticeships. We believe these new bursaries, which will support young people to stay in school or progress into the right jobs, are exactly the kind of initiative Mary Ann McCracken would have supported if she were alive today.”
The schools receiving the bursaries will have the flexibility to use the funds in a number of ways to support those pupils who need it most, or would be disadvantaged due to financial barriers.
Speaking on behalf of the schools Mary Montgomery, Principal of Belfast Boys’ Model and Chair of North Belfast Area Learning Community, said “We are delighted to be in receipt of these bursaries. Post COVID-19 we are increasingly aware of the financial pressures facing families, and this fund will be a huge help in breaking down some of those barriers to support our students. Whether that is to cover application fees for university, buy a new suit or travel fare for a job interview or to encourage young people to progress to AS or A-Levels, the fund offers us flexibility to tailor to individual needs.
Belfast Charitable Society (BCS) is match funding this initiative and, through its philanthropic connections has also secured additional funding from Victoria Homes Trust. Paula Reynolds, CEO of BCS explained “We are delighted to contribute to this bursary initiative, and will continue to use our close relationships with other funders to attract and grow this worthwhile and tangible programme so more young people from North Belfast can benefit.”
The Mary Ann McCracken Bursary programme will open via each of the post primary schools from today. Find out more about the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation here.