My dreams have changed a lot because I'm at Merchants

The student who wrote this, Lucy*, is the first-ever beneficiary of a Merchant Taylors’ Foundation Transformational Bursary Stream grant. Finishing her first year at Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School in Crosby in summer 2021, she has – despite all the challenges of the past year – embraced the many opportunities the school offers, extending interest in her favourite subjects, discovering talents in new ones and generally becoming more confident in her capacity to succeed.

“Lucy* is a very shy girl who is clearly loving her education and gradually coming out of her shell. I am thrilled that she is beginning to feel much more comfortable and confident in her music lessons and I have identified that she has a lovely singing voice which I would like to find ways to develop further.” – Mrs Gerversoni, Music teacher

“Lucy* arrived with low self-esteem, and lacking in aspiration. In talking to her today, she has begun to dream of what she can do after just one year with us… Receiving the grant to enable her to be a Merchants’ girl has brought Lucy* into the Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School family where she is already enriching the lives of both her friends and her teachers.” – Deborah Roberts, Head of Admissions

While Lucy* is the first student to be awarded the MTF Transformational Bursary, she is not the first student to be supported by The Merchant Taylors’ Foundation. Support for students and for schools goes back centuries, but in recent years we have aimed to support students more precisely and more directly. Through the Coronavirus Appeal, the Foundation gave over £17,000 to fund students’ needs – for laptops and other devices, as well as emergency food supplies - enabling them to continue learning while in lockdown. Lucy* is part of a new wave of Merchant Taylors’-supported scholars.

Of course, the aims of this bursary go beyond the simple transaction of a student able to attend a school; a bursary means a student has room, for as long as they remain at the school and in need, to discover interests and passions outside of the classroom, and to nurture them further. As we reflect on our early years of the Merchant Taylors' Foundation, we’d like to say thank you to those whose generosity in giving has meant that we are able to offer students such opportunities. We look forward to offering more students this chance in the future.

I was very excited to be chosen to be the first St Paul’s Cathedral chorister to wear the Merchant Taylors’ Company medal.

The Merchant Taylors’ Foundation's first Scholarship Stream grant was awarded in part to enable a talented musician to take advantage of one of the world's best musical educations. The scholarship will stay with our chorister throughout his time at St Paul’s Cathedral School, funding his boarding and school fees, music lessons and costs attached to performances. An impressive pianist – preparing already for his Grade 6 exam – and a keen trumpeter, as well as being an excellent singer, he has flourished since joining the school.

“We are incredibly proud. Although currently our youngest chorister, he is already holding his own and has the resilience and grit needed for the full immersion into chorister life… Your support for the full boarding chorister programme is enabling him to receive excellent tuition and the provision of supervised practice sessions which fit around his chorister commitments. With all these ingredients in place, he will certainly go from strength to strength.” – Jaco Brand, Deputy Head (Chorister Programme)

“Whilst there have been no cathedral services sung in front of a congregation over 2020, the choristers recorded numerous services for the cathedral’s online offer. Most notably, the choristers were recalled from holiday for a very special sung Evensong for BBC Radio 3 as a memorial for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the day following his death.” – Simon Larter-Evans, Headmaster

Education provides the building blocks for the rest of our lives, and we can appreciate how life-changing an opportunity such as this is. For students like our chorister, whose abilities extend from classroom to choir, scholarships are a means of exploring passions and aptitudes at the very best institutions regardless of their economic means. Having supported education and young people’s advancement from the very beginning of this Company, all Merchant Taylors can likely agree that we must continue to do so.

Being a recipient of the Merchant Taylors’ grant has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. Coming to Cambridge, I knew there would be a huge financial strain not just on me, but also on my mother who has worked as a single parent for my whole life to support me.

Studying for a BA in Human, Social & Political Sciences, and originally from London, Maya has been the beneficiary of a Merchant Taylors’ Foundation grant since joining Pembroke College, Cambridge two years ago. The grant provides means-tested bursarial support that covers a large chunk of tuition fees as well as funding for books and other costs, enabling Maya to make the most of her Cambridge experience and life at the College.

“[Thanks to Merchant Taylors’], I have had the time to take part in a vast array of extracurricular activities alongside my degree including netball, theatre and student politics. These activities have helped me gain a huge amount of confidence in myself, whilst also allowing me to forge incredible friendships along the way. With the support of my bursary, I have been able to enjoy all of these experiences without the constant worry of how my college bills will be paid for.”

“It has been extremely comforting to know that there are people out there who want to support me. Attending the Doctors’ Dinner last winter was a great confirmation of this, and it was great to meet the kind benefactors and thank them in person. Their financial support really has transformed my university experience for the better.”

Merchant Taylors’ Foundation’s support for education is rooted in seeing the potential in young people and recognising our chance to offer them a transformative opportunity. As Maya says, the financial investment is life-changing, but it is the vote of confidence in her to succeed, coupled with this very real investment, that can help make the real difference to her and others. Grants from Merchant Taylors’ Foundation not only open doors, but also ensure that those crossing the threshold are comfortable and confident in doing so. We are very confident Maya will do smart, brilliant things in her remaining time at university, and afterwards.

Lucy*, our chorister and Maya, each at different stages in their education journeys, are all perfect illustrations of grant giving Merchant-Taylors’-Foundation-style. They encapsulate what the Foundation’s new transformational bursaries and scholarships are designed to do: instil confidence, enable talents to flourish and provide access to opportunities that would otherwise be closed. Thank you, Merchant Taylors, for helping to transform young people’s lives.

*Names have been changed for confidentiality

In addition to these core streams of funding, we are currently running a Covid-19 Education Impact Fund whose grants are designed to mitigate some of the impacts of the pandemic on education and young people. It has so far funded:

  • Brightwell Writes – a series of writing-related activities for vulnerable pupils across one of our associated primary schools. Starting with a focus on fine and gross motor control in the early years they run through to writing and reading competitions, author visits and the development of reading spines – ‘living libraries’ inside children’s heads created through reading, that help them to engage constructive with the world around them
  • Outreach to local primary schools project run by Merchant Taylors’ School Northwood, that will enable over 600 children from the school’s neighbouring primary schools to enjoy Harry Potter Field Days, choir training, athletics, hockey and other sports
  • A bespoke school counselling project to support student and staff mental health and wellbeing at Wallingford School
  • St Helen’s School’s Literacy and Oracy Outreach Programme that will support collaboration between local state primary schools and St Helen’s on early language development, dyslexia screening and the building of skills in debating and public speaking.
Please note that we do not currently accept funding enquiries or unsolicited applications for our education grants. We make only proactive grants to our associated schools and institutions. If you are seeking funding for a programme with an educational aspect you may be eligible to apply to our Small Grants Scheme