Reigning Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has announced the launch of a new charitable foundation, called Mission 44, and has pledged an initial £20m from his personal wealth.

Hamilton has regularly spoken of the need for greater equality, particularly within motorsport, and recently released the findings of the Hamilton Commission.

On Tuesday he unveiled Mission 44, while his Mercedes team will work with the foundation under the newly titled Ignite initiative.

Mission 44 will “support, champion and empower young people from underrepresented groups in the UK,” and will be fronted by CEO Jason Arthur.

Arthur has previously held roles in the education and youth sectors, having been Deputy Chief Executive of the Step Up To Serve charity, as well as a Cabinet Member for Finance and Health in Haringey, alongside teaching positions.

A personal £20m pledge from Hamilton will be used to support Mission 44’s work, which will include assisting organisations and programmes that narrow the gap in employment and education systems, and increasing diversity within leadership and civic leadership positions.

The charitable partnership between Hamilton and Mercedes, which was revealed upon the announcement of his 2021 contract, has been formalised through a joint initiative, called Ignite, which will sit under the Mission 44 umbrella.

Ignite will have a specific focus on improving the underrepresentation of students studying STEM and engineering, primarily within the motorsport industry.

“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,” said Hamilton.

“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.”

Hamilton has raced for Mercedes in Formula 1 since 2013, having been linked to the manufacturer since his junior days, and recently committed his future to the company through 2023.

Hamilton and Mercedes will work together on Ignite, as part of the shared vision between the pair to focus on increasing diversity and opportunities within the motorsport sector.

Ignite’s efforts will include developing STEM curriculum materials, providing financial support to talented and motivated students who lack the means, and enhancing education encrichment opportunities around STEM and motorsport.

“We are delighted and proud to be standing alongside Lewis today for the announcement of Mission 44 and the Ignite initiative,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

“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.”

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