Does your organisation support the wellbeing of Australian youth?
20 February 2017 at 4:27 pm
Since 1917 Commonwealth Bank staff have been supporting young people to thrive through their workplace giving program the Staff Community Fund. In their 100th year, they are awarding $2 million in grants of up to $10,000 each year for three years to deductible gift recipient (DGR) registered youth-focused organisations across Australia.
A recent grant recipient is SISTER2sister, a mentoring program for at-risk girls. Jessica Brown, the founder of the program, was teaching music at a South Western Sydney high school. Brown was extremely passionate about helping her students who were struggling in the classroom and realised that many were not reaching their potential due to challenging home lives and external factors such as abuse, neglect or were suffering trauma. In 2013, She conceived the SISTER2sister program with the aim of addressing the core issues that come from the intergenerational continuation of poverty.
Today SISTER2sister is a year-long mentoring program. The little sisters are girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, aged from 12 to 18 years old. They are matched with a big sister who is a trained volunteer who acts as a mentor, role model, coach, and a friend to the little sister during the 12-month journey. The program kicks off with a weekend “butterfly camp”, that provides a safe place for the sisters to meet, bond, and build trust, launching a year-long structured program. With monthly workshops teaching life-skills, healthy eating, personal hygiene and sexual health, the program helps build their confidence while teaching the participants coping strategies.
The little sisters also receive professional help from doctors and psychologists to address mental health issues such as suicidal thoughts, self-harm and drug and alcohol abuse. Over the course of the year, the little sisters learn new skills and strategies to empower them to turn their lives around. The results of the program speak for themselves; a long-term study of little sisters found that 82 per cent graduated school and are now undertaking further education or are employed. A truly amazing result.
Brown said: “The hardest thing about running SISTER2sister is knowing that there is a long list of girls in-need in areas of Australia where our services do not exist. Our program has a proven track record of long-term positive change and we wish we had the funds to service all areas where girls need us.”
This year the Staff Community Fund grants will be committing to three years of funding, allowing programs like SISTER2sister to plan and grow their programs over the long term.
If you have a program that could use a $30,000 boost over three years to makes an impact for young people in your local community to;
- access quality education; or
- engage in learning to develop life skills for their future; or
- develop their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing; or
- create stable family environments that support youth to thrive.
Visit www.commbank.com.au/grants to see if your organisation is eligible to apply. Applications open 6 March and close 31 March 2017.
Things you should know: Applications will be judged according to the criteria set out in our Grant Guidelines available at www.commbank.com.au/grants.