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More Schools Turning to Philanthropy For Support

24 May 2017 at 4:29 pm
Rachel McFadden
An increasing number of disadvantaged Australian schools are seeking financial support from philanthropic sources, according to a new not-for-profit analysis.

Rachel McFadden | 24 May 2017 at 4:29 pm


More Schools Turning to Philanthropy For Support
24 May 2017 at 4:29 pm

An increasing number of disadvantaged Australian schools are seeking financial support from philanthropic sources, according to a new not-for-profit analysis.

Education charity, Australian Schools Plus, which was formed from a recommendation of the 2011 Gonski Education Funding Review, has assessed the impact of philanthropic dollars on the growing number of schools it has engaged with in the past two years.

The Impact Report – which covers the period from April 2015 to March 2017 – analysed nearly 350 funding submissions from disadvantaged schools revealing which schools were most likely to seek donor support, the initiatives they sought support for and how donations were being used.

“In only two years since the establishment of Schools Plus, we’ve connected with over 13 per cent of schools in disadvantaged communities and impacted more than 40,000 students, thanks to financial and other support,” Schools Plus CEO Rosemary Conn said.

“These disadvantaged schools are now looking to philanthropic partnerships in addition to government funding to address some of the needs of their most vulnerable students.”

The report showed that schools were most likely to seek support for projects that boosted student engagement – these included initiatives that targeted issues such as attendance, transition to primary and high school and then into work, or additional support for students in literacy or numeracy.

It found that donations were frequently used to buy equipment, train staff or bring in external expertise.

“The schools aren’t coming to us saying they need support for the core things that are being funded by government but rather a lot of the wrap around support for things like the type of equipment they might be after,” Conn told Pro Bono News.

“Things that perhaps in more affluent schools the parents might be making a contribution towards or the schools might have the funding for,” she said.

“Without being able to do things like tinker with robotics or have a 3D printer… where students can try to develop their creativity and skills… then they are going to be behind.

“The number of submissions have been overwhelming. We have had about 600 eligible schools contacting us in some way, shape or form. It is a really significant percentage given that we are in our first couple of years.

“It is disappointing that we can’t support more schools and meet the demand.”

Conn said the high level of interest showed that Australia’s disadvantaged schools welcomed philanthropic partnerships “as an exciting new way to help deliver the education that will best set up students for futures success”.

“Before Schools Plus was established, the vast majority of schools in disadvantaged communities did not have the tax status or capacity to attract funding from donors,” she said.

“Through the work of Schools Plus, we can already see that philanthropy targeted to the schools that most need it creates incredible opportunities for their students. By connecting schools and supporters, we have been able to bring to life projects which are changing the lives of thousands of young people.”

On the issue of the federal government’s needs-based funding through its Gonski 2.0 education plan, Conn said the move was “a brilliant opportunity to open up the public discussion about what really works”.

“I think everyone has an interest in understanding how we can use best practice in the classrooms,” she said.

“I look forward to and hope that we can have a voice around the table about that because we have seen how carefully used funding can make a difference in those schools that we have supported.

“I think there is plenty that we can contribute to that conversation about what makes a difference for students.”

Rachel McFadden  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Rachel is a journalist specialising in the social sector.

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