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First grants awarded to Birmingham girls ‘who dared to dream’

A group of girls holding certificates on the main staircase of the Council House.
Published: Thursday, 5th March 2020

A dozen Birmingham girls who ‘dared to dream’ have been awarded the first grants from a special fund launched by Birmingham City Council and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s Charity. 

Eight of these girls, aged nine to fifteen, were presented with their grants and certificates during a special event held at the Council House on World Book Day (5 March 2020).

Set up using the council’s royalties from Once Upon A Time In Birmingham: Women Who Dared To Dream – a book commissioned to mark the centenary of women getting the vote – the fund awarded grants totalling more than £2,000 in its inaugural year.

Launched by Birmingham City Council and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s Charity in October 2019, the book’s legacy fund aims to help the next generation of fearless females pursue their ambitions and dreams.

This year, girls whose dreams include careers in sport, medicine, public health, politics, filmmaking and the performing arts, became the first in the city to benefit from this fund.

Applications could be made for individual grants of up to £250 to support academic or career dreams – be it an activity, course, books, equipment or accessing work experience.

A panel of four book champions representing the council and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s Charity reviewed the applications and were impressed with the wide range of strong applications from girls across the city – which meant making some tough decisions.

Cllr Brigid Jones, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council – and one of the book champions who reviewed the applications - said: “The aim of ‘Once Upon A Time In Birmingham…’ was to inspire and encourage young women to be brave in pursuing their own dreams and ambitions. The council’s royalties from the book go directly into this fund, so I am thrilled to see the book realise its own dream by helping young women take their first steps toward achieving their goals."

Stephen Goldstein CBE DL, Chairman of the Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s Charity, added: “It’s great to see the first grants from this fund being awarded to young women who are passionate about pursuing their own dreams and ambitions, and we’re pleased to be able to support the city council in this innovative initiative to help open doors for the next generation. It’s good to dream!”

Birmingham City Council joined forces with local publisher The Emma Press to produce Once Upon A Time In Birmingham: Women Who Dared To Dream in October 2018, which features 30 inspirational Birmingham women past and present, drawn from public nominations by young female writers from the Sparks Young Writers group.

Written, illustrated and published by local women, the book profiles a range of female achievement from women’s rights campaigner Jessie Eden to the first female computer programmer Mary Lee Berners-Lee, to education campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

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