The Foundation was founded in 1748 and is named after Sir John Cass, a merchant and politician, whose wealth posthumously was used to create the Foundation to deliver educational benefits to disadvantaged children. It is the Foundation’s understanding that part of this wealth was acquired through his role as Director of The Royal African Company which traded with Africa, including in the trade of enslaved people.
As a Foundation which today has links in the nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary sectors of education, and funds organisations benefiting young people from inner London from disadvantaged backgrounds, it is important we acknowledge the origins of the funds that we distribute. For a long time the Foundation has also been awake to the fact that it is not enough to simply acknowledge origin without action.
That’s why action already undertaken by the Foundation to educate on this topic, includes a project in conjunction with our primary school which has already been developed and delivered. The Foundation is also in the process of jointly developing a teacher resource pack with its secondary school, so that the history of the slave trade can be integrated into the curriculum and discussed openly with pupils. Most recently, Professor Miles Ogborn was commissioned in February 2020 to ascertain all the facts concerning Sir John Cass’s links to the slave trade with a full and transparent account to be published once complete.
As a Foundation, we acknowledge some of the wealth of our Founder was gained by means of human exploitation and is not a source of pride. We hope our work today to promote and enable the education of disadvantaged young people in inner London can be a source of pride for the opportunities they bring to all those who benefit from our grants.
More broadly we continue to support and work with the independent institutions that carry the Cass name, where they wish us to do so. In most cases the naming references the Foundation’s significant financial support in the institutions’ advancement in providing access to education for disadvantaged young people.