London’s youth too often find themselves spoken about rather than engaged with, a look at headlines in the mainstream media will reveal this.  However, few organizations offer meaningful solutions to the well-known challenges the youth of today face

It takes a proactive approach to change the fortunes of those who opportunities seem to pass by. Thankfully, The Advantage Group (TAG) has proven to be a trailblazer in this area.

TAA (The Advantage Academy)

Founded by Alvin Owusu-Fordwuo, TAG is a social enterprise which aims to holistically empower, and improve the attainment and employability of students from diverse backgrounds. Many talented individuals are overlooked by recruiters or even worse, are unaware of the jobs and mentorship schemes that are not beyond their reach. Unfortunately, society at large is robbed of heaps of potential on a daily basis, which is left unrealised and unrealised.

Participants at The Advantage Academy

On 13th – 14th August, TAG held its Advantage Academy, a summer programme for 28 young people to challenge themselves mentally, physically and academically.  The attendees enjoyed their experience so much they requested a third day, with TAG achieving 100% retention rate across the three days. When queried for their feedback, the students gave an average rating of 4.86/5.

Day 1 began with a tour around the Google space where students were given a glimpse of the unique culture of the firm. The young people were in awe of the Google CSG office as their preconceptions of a 9-5 were happily shattered. The tour was followed by a diverse panel of Googlers with roles ranging from apprentice to director. The students were left empowered as they learned there is no ‘best route’ into Google, and their attitudes and skills are what will secure them their desired positions.

Students during the daily challenges at The Advantage Academy 

The days’ main task was set by Google, titled the ‘8 pillars of Innovation’. The aim was to aid young people to develop skills such as innovation, teamwork and key business acumen. Students worked collaboratively to create business models that solve social issues such as crime and education inequality using technology.

The attendees showcased their amazing sense of creativity. There were  extraordinary ideas such as a Google coding school for the homeless, a mental health app that would work with universities to provide better pastoral care for students and ’Disaster Master’ an AI tool that would alert communities in developing countries of forecasted natural disasters. The young people were put into 6 teams, with each team presenting their solution to a panel of Googlers with a grand prize of a sponsored dinner by Nandos.

The Academy continued at Canada Water Culture Space for Day 2. Throughout the day, students were advised on how to maximize their journey, whether that was by securing an internship, going to college/ university or getting that first part-time job.

They participated in various activities such as a CV and communication workshop, financial literacy workshops, a pre-academic year breakdown, and an expert panel consisting of successful men and women. Students such as Stephanie commented that “I learnt that whatever you’re doing in life, you should always have a purpose that’s bigger than yourself”. 

The Advantage Academy was a success. 100% of students surveyed said they felt they had developed skills over the two days meaning TAG was able to restrict the impact of the notorious ‘Summer Learning Loss’ – a phenomenon where students lose academic skills and knowledge over summer breaks. Summer Learning Loss disproportionately affects ethnic minorities and students from low-income households.

The graduates of The Advantage Academy stated that they felt “inspired” and “motivated” to pursue their career and academic goals after completing the programme, “I would love to work for Google in the future, Google, in essence, is a sharpener, it is a springboard. Doors are opened to grow and develop exponentially”- Michael.

TAG have extended an open invitation to all who want to join them in their start up journey to impact the lives of so many more of London’s youth.