BCD Meetings & Events and ACA Live have pledged to support the REACH University Scholarship Initiative for the 2024 student intake at Bournemouth University

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The REACH (Race Ethnicity And Cultural Heritage) events scholarship initiative was launched in 2022 by Robert Kenward and Gabrielle Austen-Browne to provide a fund and help Black, Asian and unrepresented minority ethnic students to study on events management degree programmes and enter the industry. The initiative provides a £5,000 yearly scholarship to support with living expenses.

Michelle Biggane, head of talent acquisition UK, BCD Meetings & Events said: “We are excited to be sponsoring future talent in their educational pursuit within the meetings & events industry. Here at BCD M&E, diversity, equity and inclusion is a core pillar of our value proposition, and a foundation we’re proud to be actively prioritising. By partnering with REACH and providing students with the tools they need to be successful, we hope this has a direct impact in enhancing the representation of historically underrepresented groups in our sector.”

Alex Crawley, client director, ACA Live said: “At ACA Live, we’re investing in the next generation of talent and helping to break the vicious cycle of a lack of diverse representation within the events industry. The REACH events management scholarship helps us to redress the balance, directly benefiting students from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. We work in a creative industry and a plurality of voices and perspectives can only benefit our agency and the industry as a whole. We’re really proud to be involved in REACH, providing young people with a foot up on the ladder of success.”

Robert Kenward, co-founder of REACH said: “I’m incredibly proud of the impact that REACH has achieved so far and thrilled that we have two agency powerhouses onboard for 2024. We are now in our third year and we can actually see the impact REACH is having on real people across two universities. This is a continuing campaign, we will continue to work with a new university each year and we are actively looking for more companies to come on board and help increase the diversity of our industry, from the ground up.”

Gabby Austen-Browne, co-founder of REACH said: “We’re so excited to have ACA Live and BCD as donors for the REACH scholarship initiative. Their investment in the future of our industry is not only transformative for the recipients but also a powerful statement about the value of diverse perspectives and experiences in the events sector.”

The initiative is working with Bournemouth University to support students wishing to study on the 2024 intake.

Jonathan Goode, head of fundraising and alumni relations at Bournemouth University, said: “We are pleased to be joining other universities to deliver REACH Scholarships to students joining our degree programme in events management from September. Inclusivity is a core value at BU and this initiative enables us to join with like-minded organisations to deliver positive change and create a more diverse events sector and workforce. We are thankful to our two company partners for providing this scholarship funding and look forward to seeing the impact this will have on the recipients. We’d love to hear from other companies wanting to increase diversity in their workplaces through this innovative programme.”

The initiative was launched in 2022 to attract more people from a Black, Asian and underrepresented ethnic minority background into the events industry. The initiative was launched with students at Manchester Metropolitan University who are now in their second year of their events management degree course, with grants supported by DRPG, Identity, TRO, and You Search & Select. In 2023 NorthStar Media Group, Because Connected Experiences, and EMC3 supported students starting their event management degree courses at The University of Hertfordshire. 

Simran, REACH Scholar, at Manchester Metropolitan University said: “I come from an Indian family, and my parents wanted me to follow a ‘safe’ profession such as medicine or law. They didn’t know about careers in events, so this in itself was a barrier as they thought it was risky. Having the scholarship gave them some reassurance as it showed that there were credible companies out there that wanted to attract people like me.”

Companies that are interested in making a positive and long-term impact to D&I in the industry can contact Gabby Austen-Browne (Gabby@DiversityAlly.co.uk) or Robert Kenward (Robert@RecruitmentProf.com) for more information.

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