Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton has launched a new charitable foundation with a personal pledge of £20million.
'Mission 44' has been created to support, champion and empower young people from under-represented groups in the UK.
Hamilton's significant financial contribution will be used to support organisations and programmes that narrow the gap in employment and education systems, through partnerships, collaborations, grant-giving and advocacy.
“Supporting the ambitions of under-represented young people has always been important to me and Mission 44 represents my commitment to create real change within this community," said Hamilton.
"In my early life, I experienced first-hand how coming from an under-represented 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."
The new charity will work in tandem with Mercedes' new Ignite programme to ensure the team becomes more diverse and inclusive.
It also follows on from the recent findings of the Hamilton Commission that brought to light the fact that only one per cent of employees in F1 are from Black backgrounds and highlighted 10 key areas where the sport can improve to increase this figure.
Hamilton added: “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.”
In addition to Hamilton's pledge, there will be contributions from his brand partners and sponsors to further boost funds and support the foundation's activity.
Mission 44 will focus on three key areas:
* Representation: Shining a spotlight on the experiences of young people from under-represented 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 under-represented young people across all aspects of society to achieve and thrive, with a focus on those most at risk of being left behind.
* Empowerment: Working with young people and a wide range of organisations to support initiatives that amplify the voices of young people from under-represented groups to influence decision-making and support them to take action on social causes they are passionate about.
In supporting Hamilton, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “We are delighted and proud to be standing alongside Lewis 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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