Unlocking untapped potential for London students
As a young teenager, C.L.* grew up in one of the poorest areas in London’s borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where attending a prestigious college was not in the cards. “My secondary school teachers thought I couldn’t maintain a university lifestyle,” she says. “Instead, they directed me to take an apprenticeship or a BTEC [vocational qualification].”
But then she found the Urban Scholars Widening Access Programme (USWAP) at Brunel University London. Funded and supported by Moody’s for 15 years, the USWAP champions secondary school students from underserved backgrounds and provides multiple levels of support — including subsidized coursework, mentorships and summer programming — to engage students in learning.
Her time with the USWAP encouraged C.L. to break out of her shell and dream bigger about her future. Today, at 19, she is an undergraduate law student at Brunel and plans to become a fully qualified barrister when she graduates. “The USWAP really encouraged me to become the person I am,” she says.
C.L.’s success story is just one of more than 700 created over the last decade and a half. In 2019, Moody’s and Brunel celebrated these and all the stories yet to come by bringing alumni, students, faculty and business leaders together in an event that showcased the long-term benefit the USWAP creates in the lives of its students.
“It is one thing to read a report and see statistics on paper, but it is another experience entirely to hear young people speak about the huge impact this program has had on their lives.”
CSR REGIONAL HEAD, EMEA AND ASIA-PACIFIC, MOODY’S CORPORATION
Surfacing and amplifying submerged talent
Upon entry to the USWAP, roughly 20% of students are achieving target exam grades, and like C.L., most face a low likelihood of attending a university. But in many cases, low exam scores are more a product of environmental challenges than of ability.
USWAP participants are selected by talent coordinators from their secondary schools using a system informed by Brunel Professor Valsa Koshy. Her research demonstrates that identifying submerged talent in underserved students and giving them a system of support helps increase their academic achievements, foster higher-education aspirations and build the social skills and self-esteem they need to become successful after graduation.
Moody’s helps fund tutoring, mentoring and peer networking support so that students can improve their exam scores. Students also receive help applying for funding opportunities and university admission. And, as a partner, Moody’s hosts up to three Brunel Urban Scholar students in our summer work experience program every year, in addition to offering in-office workshops to Urban Scholar students.
The efforts are paying off: Since the program’s launch in 2004, 91% of students have gone on to graduate from a university. Now, 83% of the most recent USWAP alumni group is studying STEM or finance, and 65% are at Russell Group (higher-tariff) universities.
A path toward success
“The USWAP really encouraged me to become the person I am.”
A celebration years in the making
Statistics are important, but for Rudo Mutambiranwa, CSR regional head of EMEA and Asia-Pacific at Moody’s Corporation, hearing firsthand accounts from the young people who have benefited from the program is even more powerful. “It is one thing to read a report and see statistics on paper,” Mutambiranwa says, “but it is another experience entirely to hear young people speak about the huge impact this program has had on their lives. It’s inspiring.”
Mutambiranwa was among the Moody’s representatives who joined Brunel faculty, 40 USWAP alumni and 100 current program participants at the 15-year celebration event last summer. There, alumni shared their stories and words of encouragement.
“Through this program, I was selected to intern for the Moody’s banking team in the UK and Ireland,” said John,* a USWAP alumnus who now has a successful banking career in London. “It opened my eyes to a career in finance and helped support my decision to study economics at university. Before entering the program, I never thought this field of study would be an option for me.”
For recent alumnae Frankie and Lizzie,* the impact was just as tangible. Both young women took a break from their studies in the US to speak at the event about their studies abroad and experiences applying for scholarships. Both are receiving scholarships worth £90,000 per year through the Sutton Trust US Programme, in partnership with the Fulbright Commission. Through the USWAP, they had many one-on-one sessions with program staff to complete their applications, do practice interviews and receive information about how to take full advantage of studying overseas.
As the USWAP continues to grow, we hope the program touches many more lives and raises the submerged talent of London’s youth to a place where it can make us all stronger.
“[The internship] opened my eyes to a career in finance and helped support my decision to study economics at university. Before entering the program, I never thought this field of study would be an option for me.”
Championing the next generation of leaders
In service to our focus on helping young people reach their potential, we are working with schools and nonprofits in communities around the world to help prepare tomorrow’s leaders for successful careers in finance, technology and economics.
A few more success stories from 2019
Generation Giga Girls (G3) Data Analytics Program
Together, Moody’s and longstanding partner Girls Inc. are creating spaces where girls can build their skills in technology and data analytics. In 2019, the G3 program expanded outside of New York for the first time in its five-year history to 11 new locations in the US and one in Canada.
With funding from the Moody’s Foundation, the CareerTrackers internship program in Australia piloted a weeklong work-shadowing program for indigenous high school students during the school holidays. The students shadowed “buddies” working at 15 organizations across various STEM-related industries, including Moody’s.
Gladesmore Community School
When London’s Gladesmore Community School was struggling with governmental spending cuts to education, Moody’s volunteers helped identify sources of private and public funding to ensure continued success for the secondary school’s nearly 1,300 students. In addition, Moody’s employees mentored students and visited them at Gladesmore throughout the year.
*Only first names or initials have been used for student and alumni privacy.