The ISLA Gift

with the University of Cambridge from 2021

Huge congratulations to our 2021 ISLA Gift Winners! Read more about the winners here.

We raised £5,764 with Gift Aid! 🥳 That’s 3+ years’ worth of gifts. THANK YOU to everyone who donated, shared and made this possible! Read the full thank-you note here.

What is the ISLA Academic Gift?

The ISLA (pronounced ‘isla’) Gift is an annual initiative founded in 2020 by Imani, which pledges to support and invest in a number of black students each year with a crowdfunded financial gift towards their study costs and, where possible, personal academic mentorship.

In 2020 we raised £1700 in 4 weeks and paired 38 students with a personal 1-to-1 mentor in their field. This year, the Gift has raised nearly £5,800 and will be managed in partnership with Churchill College at the University of Cambridge.

Why Cambridge?

When I joined Cambridge in 2015, only 15 black men were admitted out of 2,600 freshers. Personally, I was one of just 9 Black British Caribbean women admitted that year. It’s well-reported that there’s work to be done to increase the representation of black students at the University. Churchill College and I are committed to being the change we want to see by encouraging students to apply and supporting them with a financial gift and mentorship when they arrive.

Where will the money go?

This year’s awards will be open to UK undergraduate students of Black African or African-Caribbean heritage at Churchill College or who are holding offers from Churchill College. In future years we are also planning to extend the award to students from schools and colleges who partner with Churchill College through its outreach/widening participation work.

The aim of the fund is to give cash awards of £100-£300 to recognise outstanding achievement in the following key areas:

  • Achieved academic grades (GCSE or equivalent and above)
  • Music /the Arts
  • Sports
  • Science and Technology (outside the curriculum, e.g. Olympiads; scientific or technological creativity or innovation)
  • Initiatives creating a positive social, educational and community impact
  • Other extra-curricular activities

Awardees will also have access to informal mentoring from Churchill alumni.

Our fundraising target of £3,000 covers 2 years’ worth of gifts, so the extra £2,764 we’ve raised on top of that target will fund gifts in 3 years’ time and beyond.

How did it all begin?

Click here to read the full story of how a personal pledge in 2020 to give 3 students £50 and mentor them for a year, blossomed into a cash gift of £1700 raised in 4 weeks for 17 students, plus 21 additional students being paired with a personal mentor for the year!

Latest Updates:

Winners for the 2021-22 Gift have now been selected and contacted! Huge congratulations to Lily, Jed, Elysia and Adora! We are so proud of you! 🥳 Meet our winners here, on the Churchill College website.

Applications for the Gift closed to current Churchill students on 19 September 2021. They will eventually open to Churchill 2022 entry offer-holders and, down the line, they’ll also open to the College’s partner school in Croydon.

Full round-up of previous winners: