Both Brexit and the US election have left our communities, at home and overseas, more divided than ever.
Reports of hate crime rose by 41 per cent after the EU referendum: the number of students suspended or expelled for racial abuse of their peers has risen and there is a gap growing between the baby boomers and generation Z.
The late Labour MP Jo Cox said that "we have more in common than divides". It is with this quote in mind that we believe it's our sixth-form students who can bring our communities back together. Young people, with their passion and enthusiasm, are a perfect vehicle to find innovative ways to drive change in a way that politicians just can’t.
Building on the highly successful Transformation Trust programme Inspire US – which resulted in 20 sixth-form students become campaign interns in the swing state of Florida – Unite US will enable teams of sixth formers to run a campaign for change in their community. They will have to show how they have reached out to their local community and the impact of their campaign.
Not only will the students help the local community, but they will also be able to hone their teamwork, innovation, creativity and resilience skills. Teams will have four months to produce their campaign and reach out to as many people as possible. To raise the profile of their campaign, they can use social media, the local radio station, or get out and talk to people on the street.
The top 20 teams will be invited to London to take part in our finalists' forum to pitch their movement to a panel of seasoned campaigners. The panel will select the top 10 teams who will receive £100 each to take their campaign to the next level. This money can be used to boost social media posts, host an event or put an advert in the local paper to reach even more people locally with their campaign.
The top four teams who affect the most change will win the trip of a lifetime and go to Washington DC for a study tour in June 2018. There they will learn the skills of how to be effective campaigners and keep driving change in their local community.
The trip to DC is fully funded and will enable our winning students to be inspired. Alumni of the Inspire US programme have gone on to achieve amazing things, with one student, Char, saying that the experience on the trip helped her get into Harvard University.
Unite US is a fantastic opportunity for students across the country to get involved in a social action movement that celebrates the things we have in common, seeing beyond the things that divide. We invite schools to sign up and join the movement and help reunite our communities.
Unite US is fully funded and open to any school that has higher than average percentage of pupil premium. For more details, visit unite-us.co.uk. The deadline to sign up is 20 November 2017, with this booking form. You can find more of its fully funded programmes at the Transformation Trust: transformationtrust.org.uk
Naa Acquah is the Programme Manager at the Transformation Trust