The Rank Fellowship was launched in November 2003 to mark 25 years of the Rank Foundation School Leadership Award, a bursary scheme funded and administered by the Rank Foundation, a grant-giving charitable trust. The Fellowship was the brainchild of the late Fred Packard, grandson of Lord Rank and Chairman of The Rank Foundation from 2000 to 2009: his involvement with Fundacao Estudar in Brazil was influential in his thinking.
Since 1978 over twelve hundred teenage boys and girls have benefited from financial assistance from the Rank Foundation's School Leadership Award. The assistance was anonymously given until the 1990s: since then, students have been aware of the Rank Foundation's role. During their years in the sixth form, they undertake two community action placements with youth projects associated with the Foundation. They also attend a Leadership Day each September.
In order to qualify for the Award, applicants must be
- at a participating independent or state school
- in need of financial support to complete their school or university careers
- and regarded by their Head as possessing outstanding leadership potential.
The Rank Fellowship is open to past and present beneficiaries of the Rank Foundation's Leadership Award (known as "Fellows"). It promotes networking and mutual support among Fellows and encourages them to invest time and effort in voluntary activities, thereby contributing to a better society.
Since its foundation in 2003, the Fellowship has organised dinners, mentoring evenings, charities' evenings and professional workshops for small charities. The Fellowship's Steering Committee meets four times a year to develop its activities under three distinct headings: communication, charitable work and mentoring. Jason Chaffer has been the Chairman of the Fellowship since its inception.