Inspiring people to make a positive difference
As a broadcaster in over 10 million homes across the UK and Ireland, we have an opportunity to extend our reach beyond the screen to make a positive impact on society. Through our Bigger Picture programme, we aim to inspire people to take action and make it easy for them to join in. The Bigger Picture is fundamental to our values and the way we work, helping to build trust among our customers, develop our brand and build long-term success.
We focus our work in four areas that we're passionate about: inspiring our customers and our people to help tackle climate change; improving lives through sport; opening up the arts and fuelling creativity; and raising the aspirations of young people in schools.
Sky Rainforest Rescue is our partnership with WWF and the state government of Acre in Brazil to help save one billion trees in the Amazon rainforest and protect the region's rich natural diversity. It does so by raising awareness of the threat of tropical deforestation at home, inspiring people to donate money towards the cause and then working with local communities on the ground to make the forest worth more alive than dead. In May, we announced that we reached our public fundraising target of £2 million, which Sky matched pound for pound to bring the overall amount raised to £4 million. At the same time, we extended our partnership with WWF and the Acre government for a further three years so we can go further to promote sustainable alternatives to deforestation.
In sport, we've been working with British Cycling for four years with the aim of getting a million more people cycling regularly. We're on track to reach this goal, having already encouraged almost 700,000 people to get back on their bikes. This year we expanded our Sky Ride programme to 17 events in 17 cities across the UK and Ireland, providing traffic-free streets for cyclists of all ages to enjoy and attracting over 200,000 participants. Because elite success is one of the best ways of inspiring the next generation of cyclists, we're providing support across the breadth and depth of the GB team and our professional road racing team, Team Sky, enjoyed an historic achievement with Bradley Wiggins' victory in the 2012 Tour de France, the first time that a British rider has ever won the race.
For the past nine years, Sky Sports Living for Sport, our secondary schools initiative in partnership with Youth Sport Trust, has used sports stars and skills to help boost confidence, improve life skills and raise academic attainment among young people. Over the last year, 868 schools took part, more than twice the number of the previous year. Since 2003, Sky Sports Living for Sport has helped around 50,000 young people and our research shows participants achieve higher than the national average in English and maths.
With the England cricket team enjoying great success on the field, we're also working with the ECB to help more people play cricket at a grassroots level. Since its launch in 2006, our coach education programme has trained more than 45,000 cricket coaches.
We want to fuel creativity and open up the arts to more people. That's why we continue to showcase the very best of the arts from around the world on our Sky Arts channels. It's also why we're collaborating with arts organisations in the creation of new, ground-breaking works through our Sky Arts Ignition Series. We plan to invest £1.2 million to help new projects get off the ground and our first partner, Tate Liverpool, has commissioned an exciting new work
by the renowned video artist Doug Aitken, which is due to open as part of the 2012 Liverpool Biennial. To boost the careers of emerging talent, we're also providing promising young artists with bursaries of £30,000 each through the Sky Arts Ignition Futures Fund to help them to focus on creating a new work and make the transition to become working artists. From over 1,500 applications, we've selected five young artists so far, ranging from an opera director
to a visual artist, and each will also receive mentoring from Sky to help develop their commercial skills and knowledge.
We already contribute to the success and vitality of our local communities by supporting local schools with a range of activities, from hosting tours of our facilities to providing mentors who can offer careers advice. We're now going even further to raise the aspirations of young people and help them learn valuable new skills. Our new Sky Skills Studios aim to inspire young people by offering them a free learning experience that links to the curriculum and helps to build life skills. Opening in September 2012, students aged 8 to 18 will be able to work with our technology, including broadcast-quality cameras, green screens and touch screen edit tables, to make their very own television report on subjects they‘re studying at school.