Following in the footsteps of Stormzy’s Cambridge university fund—aka The Stormzy Scholarship—AJ Tracey has announced his own initiative designed to offer financial support for students wanting to go to Oxford university. Successful applicants will be awarded £40,000 a year for the first three years, after which it will be reviewed, as well as potential mentorship opportunities.
The new fund has been developed with St. Peter’s, a college recognised for being one of the few Oxford colleges to have accepted Black undergraduates since its foundation in 1929. For AJ, it was the obvious choice. “They specifically try to get people more of a mixed background, and they’re already working on that task. So for me, it felt like a no-brainer, if the train is already up and running, to help it go,” Tracey says. “I didn’t just walk in there and think, ‘Let me just randomly sling money at a random cause, you know.”
London-born rapper AJ Tracey (Ché Wolton Grant) has launched an initiative to help Black students excel at Oxford University. The AJ Tracey Fund will see the musician join forces with St Peter’s College to provide support ranging from financial assistance to mentorship opportunities. Tracey will pitch in £40,000 a year for the first three years, with the number to be reviewed thereafter.
Tracey, 28, has ensured the fund doesn’t have a restrictive criteria, welcoming all Black ethnic minorities. Besides helping them enter Oxford, the musician also wants to create a safe space for the students once they arrive in the university town.
“Being a minority in England is one thing, but then being a minority at your place of education is quite difficult,” he explained. “Obviously, if they live in Oxford as well, then they’re also a minority there. So just basically in every category, they’re a minority and that’s always going to be hard.”
“I truly believe that I had the potential to go [to Oxford or Cambridge],” he says. “But it was just understood that if you’re from an impoverished upbringing or ethnic background it’s very hard to get in. Even if you’re intelligent, even if you know you can get those grades, it just feels out of reach. Unfortunately, the society that we live in, you know, it doesn’t favour people from a background like me. It’s not a sob story, it just is what it is.”
He hopes by putting his name front and centre it will “inspire people to think, ‘AJ Tracey’s cool, I listen to his music and he’s from the same kind of background as me. And if he cares about that stuff, maybe I have the right to want to go there’,” he says. “I don’t like it when, in the end, kids are sitting there like really, really bright, getting their grades, and that kind of upper echelon is blocked for them.”