Tech Giant Launches Foundation to Tackle Indigenous Disadvantage
5 March 2019 at 5:09 pm
One of Australia’s leading tech companies is giving away more than half a million dollars to organisations helping Indigenous children, as part of a new charitable foundation.
Melbourne-based design startup Envato launched the initiative on Tuesday, pledging to support charities focused on creating education and career opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Envato Foundation will give grants totalling $630,000 over the next three to six years to its initial foundation partners – secondary school scholarship provider Yalari, school-to-work transition program Ganbina, and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
Envato CEO and co-founder Collis Ta’eed said the foundation built on the company’s established commitment to supporting charities, communities and organisations aligned with Envato’s values.
“Aligning purpose and business is something that is important to us at Envato. Our company, and our industry, have experienced a huge amount of success, and it’s critical that we, and companies like us, take an active role in supporting the wider community,” Ta’eed said.
“Since Envato was founded in 2006, we’ve put 1 per cent of all our profits to charitable ends. While for many years we distributed these to a mix of staff nominated charities, we felt it was time to take a more targeted approach… and wanted to focus on a uniquely Australian challenge.”
The foundation’s board is made up of current and former Envato staff and the initiative will be fully funded using 1 per cent of Envato’s yearly pre-tax profits.
The initial grant amounts were decided with input from foundation partners, and the company said it wanted to retain this flexibility when it comes to giving out future grants.
Chair of the Envato Foundation board Briany Kalms, explained while it had been eye-opening to learn about the huge disparities in education and employment outcomes experienced by Indigenous communities, it was exciting to know there were amazing organisations working to change things.
“Many of those organisations rely on corporate partners to support their work. I’m thrilled that Envato is taking on a stronger leadership role in our industry in actively supporting these organisations,” Kalms said.
When it came to selecting the initial groups for the foundation to fund, Kalms told Pro Bono News the decision was the result of extensive research and consultation with organisations working in the space.
“From there, the process was about connecting more deeply with our potential partners to understand their needs and aims, and to ensure there was a good alignment between our organisations,” she said.
Kalms added that Envato believed when the community succeeded, their business would too.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to build a strong and sustainable business that allows us to contribute to causes and issues we believe we can make a positive change in, and establishing the foundation has been a coordinated way for us to ensure we have a lasting, positive impact,” she said.
The three charities given grants by the foundation said they were extremely grateful for the support.
Ganbina CEO Anthony Cavanagh said he was excited about developing a deeper partnership with Envato, and noted the continuity of the funding was really important for their program.
“We’ve got the chance now to provide our kids with exposure to the world of tech services, [and] get them thinking about whether they are interested in that kind of career,” Cavanagh said.
“There’s definitely a lot of opportunities we can explore as this partnership progresses.”
Llew Mullins, co-founder and managing director of Yalari, said the foundation was sponsoring two Indigenous students starting Year 7 and would support them through to graduation in Year 12.
She thanked Envato for also committing to sponsor the charity’s Captain’s Camp for the next six years, enabling students to learn vital leadership skills.
Indigenous Literacy Foundation executive director Karen Williams said Envato had demonstrated a real interest in helping the charity achieve its vision of “equity of opportunity”.
“With Envato’s support, we can deliver that vision, through education… which we passionately believe will give all children living in remote Australia future opportunities and choice around education, employment and their general wellbeing,” Williams said.
Envato was founded by Collis Ta’eed and Cyan Ta’eed – the woman behind chocolate social enterprise Hey Tiger – in 2006. By 2018, the company had grown to almost 350 staff and had a turnover of $92 million.