The Black British education foundation to support right now

Ateh Jewel’s foundation which is giving students the opportunity to study at university to eradicate inequalities is more vital than ever

group image of the Dr. Ateh Jewel Education Foundation
(Image credit: Dr. Ateh Jewel Education Foundation)

Educational outcomes for black and mixed heritage students in Britain persistently fall behind those of other student groups, which leads to differences in opportunity in adulthood. Our columnist Dr. Ateh Jewel, who is also a presenter on This Morning, advocates for a deeper focus on the challenges black students face within schools and universities to ensure that those who have the ability and desire to pursue higher education are given high quality options that will lead to good graduate jobs. 

“There is so much work needed to eradicate the racism and inequalities faced by black people in this country. It has to start by using education as a conduit to drive cultural change, therefore making society more diverse at the higher level,” says Ateh.   

What is the Dr. Ateh Jewel Education Foundation?

The Dr. Ateh Jewel Education Foundation was set up in 2021 to help black students in higher education in all disciplines, especially STEM - to take their personal and professional development to the next level.

“I want to see generations of black and mixed heritage students go to the very best universities and arts programmes and open invisible doors which have previously been locked. It’s about putting people with different stories and experiences in places of power in all industries in this country," says Ateh.

This mission is rooted in a very personally positive experience of beauty: “I’ve always found beauty to be a healing safe space for me and I want to create this safe space for others while helping move forward BLM and real social justice,” she says.

However, Ateh’s story of starting her own beauty business is riddled with challenges: “I spent four years and a lot of nos creating my makeup brand for darker skin tones. I had to speak to so many older male chemists who were not flexible and didn’t want to help me create my foundation or understand my consumer. They said things like ‘black doesn’t sell’, ‘it’s not worth reformulating for people with darker skin tone’, ‘this is how it has been done for 30 years,’ ‘we can’t start at the beginning, it's not worth it’. I remember thinking if there were chemists that looked like me and understood me it would be better for everyone.”

As well as support from P&G, Olay, Cantu, Aveda, Space NK and Little Light PR, a portion of the profits from Ateh’s beauty range will go into the Foundation when she launches her range Ateh Jewel Beauty next year. As well as having financial aid, the Foundation is working with Solent University, UAL, Oxford and Bristol universities where lecturers and doctors along with Ateh speak at events and set up community groups for assistance.

Two women taking a selfie

(Image credit: Dr. Ateh Jewel Education Foundation)

In 2021, UAL launched its anti-racism action plan which set clear objectives and expectations to tackle racial inequality at UAL. Developed with staff and students, the plan includes commitments to implementing anti-racism education across the University, increasing the proportion of Black, Asian and minority ethnic students, decolonising the curriculum and eliminating the continuation and degree awarding gaps.

“Diverse organisations are better organisations, and in addition to work undertaken as part of the anti-racism action plan, UAL made the commitment that at least 30% of staff will be Black, Asian and minority ethnic by 2024 – reflecting the diversity of its student body,” says Diogo Baltazar, Course Leader: integrated MSc Cosmetic Science at London College of Fashion (LCF), University of the Arts London (UAL).

Other support from partners includes beauty corporation Procter and Gamble opening the door to its Innovation Centre, helping bring to life the content that the fund recipients’ study at university, with one-to-one mentoring and tours of the labs.

Women discussing around a table

(Image credit: Dr. Ateh Jewel Education Foundation)

Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson, Senior Beauty Scientist at Olay and a mentor who supports the Dr. Ateh Jewel Education Foundation, says “Science plays a huge role in society and is only going to get more important. Currently, there is a real imbalance and we’re not seeing enough women of colour in STEM roles. However, our partnership with the Dr. Ateh Jewel Education Foundation is our first step in helping young females face the STEM gap, to help make the future of cosmetic science one of equal and inclusive measure.”

There are so many reasons stopping people from hitting the targets that need to be hit, whether that is financial, or the negative noise of not feeling that sense of belonging. ”My old headmistress said to me 'don’t bother applying for Oxford, they don’t want your kind' - this was in 1996. When I started university I was the only black person in my entire year to study history. It’s about taking away boundaries so that people can be the best they can be and help people to feel like they belong at the very heart of institutions,” says Ateh.

Ateh’s talks are inspired by her professional and personal experiences in education as a philanthropist, a leader, a student, and a mum. She understands how much work remains to redefine the way our education system works for students, but she is optimistic about the possibilities in this movement and that we will see real, meaningful change in our education system.

“Through education we are able to teach future generations about the urgency and requirements needed to impact and change racial and social injustice in a positive way,” says Diogo. “By doing so properly, we increase the likelihood that future leaders are from diverse backgrounds and free from bias, so that their leadership creates fair and truly representative environments with endless equal opportunities for individuals regardless of background, social economic status and personal circumstances.”

Racism can mean feeling unsafe, unwelcome and that you are not given a fair chance. If you are finding things tough and you are looking at higher education Ateh shares her top three tips:


So many people cut themselves out of the race or of higher education - but look at the evidence. You deserve to be here, and even if you have been told this isn’t for you, this is totally for you - and things won’t change unless you take your seat of power. Any time I feel imposter syndrome I look at the facts and the evidence and that quiets the saboteur voice in my head. 


People don’t tell you this at school, but people are helping each other and fostering positive work relationships is key in creating a supportive circle around you. In the beauty industry, everyone talks to each other and we give each other off the record recommendations. Karma is real - the more positivity you give out, the more will come back to you. The days of The Devil Wears Prada are over - it’s about holding hands and all rising up together. 


Believe in your purpose and what you have to say and that what you have to offer the world is enough. So many people are told that they aren’t enough and what they are doing is not good enough. You don’t have to change yourself - being your authentic self will unlock a really exciting world of endless possibilities. Be brave enough to be your authentic self. 

Lisa Oxenham

An award-winning health and beauty writer, stylist and creative director, Lisa Oxenham is one of the UK’s top beauty editors and the Beauty and Style Director at Marie Claire UK. With 20 years of editorial experience Lisa is a brand partnership expert, and a popular speaker, panelist and interviewer on a range of topics from sustainability to the future of beauty in the digital world. She recently spoke at Cognition X and Beauty Tech Live and is on the Advisory Board for the British Beauty Council’s Sustainable Beauty Coalition.

A well-respected creative director she works on celebrity, model and influencer shoots with the highest calibre of photographers, filmmakers, make-up artists and hairstylists to create timeless images, attention-grabbing videos, digital events and masterclasses. Most recently Lisa has directed covers such as Lily Cole and Jameela Jamil, films such as Save The Arts featuring Francesca Hayward and sustainable fashion shoots such as Be The Change. Supporting the beauty industry over the pandemic has been a top focus, directing the British Beauty Council’s six inspirational short biographical films for their Bring Back Beauty campaign.

Lisa is a wellbeing and beauty influencer with a focus on mental health and a large and engaged audience on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.