The Folio Prize Foundation, in tandem with its sponsor Rathbone Investment Management, is to launch a mentorships programme for students at literacy charity First Story, with the Folio academicians acting as mentors.
First Story, founded by former teacher Katie Waldegrave and the writer William Fiennes, brings talented professional writers into over 70 secondary schools serving low-income communities to work with teachers and students to foster creativity and communication skills.
From this September, the "most outstanding" First Story students will be selected for the Rathbones Folio Mentorships programme, which will see students paired with a member of the Folio Academy for one-on-one guidance on a writing project over the course of a year.
Prize director Minna Fry said she was "very very encouraged" by the early response from academicians to participating in the programme. "We have invited academicians just today to register their interest," she said. "I've had about 50 responses already, hugely enthusiastic. We won't select the final mentors until we've had all responses and will then have to match them geographically etc and ballot them. It'll probably be August before we finalise the names."
Mónica Parle, executive director of First Story, said: “First Story believes writing is a source of power and pleasure, and we are delighted to be partnering with The Rathbones Folio Prize to transform the lives of secondary school students. Working with Folio Academicians to nurture the most talented First Story students presents an unparalleled opportunity for them to develop their skills and find their own voices. We hope this will also contribute to the diversity of the publishing world, as the young people we work with come from backgrounds often not represented in mainstream publishing.”
Meanwhile, the Rathbones Folio Prize for the best work of literature published in a given year, is to be announced on the evening of 24th May 2017 at a ceremony at the British Library. The prize's remit will include non-fiction for the first time this year.
The shortlist of eight titles will be revealed on Thursday 6th April at the Rathbones London head offices by this year’s judges: Ahdaf Soueif (chair), Lucy Hughes-Hallett, and Rachel Holmes, all of whom are members of the Folio Academy.
The Folio Prize ran for the first time in 2014, but was suspended for 2016, following the ending of its initial two-year sponsorship from The Folio Society.
Andrew Kidd and Kate Harvey, co-founders of The Folio Prize, said: “From the outset, our ambition was that this should be more than ‘just a prize’, with the unique resource of the Folio Academy being ideally placed to engage the public in exploring the power and potential of writing to transform lives. This engagement is a key priority for Rathbones as well, and together with them and First Story we are thrilled to be launching a new mentorships programme – the first of numerous initiatives we will roll out over the coming months and years.”
Philip Howell, c.e.o of Rathbone Brothers plc, said: “The Rathbones Folio Prize not only recognises outstanding literary work, it also supports programmes that nurture new talent: a quality we greatly value at Rathbones. We have always been a strong supporter of youth development – be it through our financial awareness programme or our sponsorship of schools lacrosse – and are delighted to be able to continue this tradition with the Rathbones Folio Mentorships, which will help future generations discover and develop their talent.”