About this time every year thousands of Australian children head into schools all across the country, ready for another school year. Another year of learning, growing and experiencing the world under the supervision of some incredible teachers. And while these students have educational opportunities far greater than many children in other corners of the globe, unfortunately there is great disparity across the schools in our country.
There has been a long held belief in the education community that philanthropy can help change this inconsistency, but the schools that need the most financial support do not usually have deductible gift recipient status to provide tax deductible receipts to donors.
A new, innovative organisation called Australian Schools Plus has been established to change this by connecting schools and donors by matching the schools most in need with those philanthropists with a passion for education.
“We give a voice to schools. No one knows the needs of our students like the principals and teachers who teach them.”
-Rosemary Conn, CEO, Schools Plus
According to Australian Schools Plus, “students facing disadvantage consistently achieve poorer results than their peers. In Australia, that performance gap is disturbingly wide – the equivalent of two and a half years of schooling between the most socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged schools.”
The work of Australian Schools Plus focuses on supporting more than 4,600 schools in need; those that have a value of less than 1000 on the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage. They help generate income for schools generally in one of three ways:
- Smart Giving: Through this program, schools apply for projects to be promoted on the Smart Giving Showcase where donors can then search the Showcase and choose a project to support.
- Fundraise Yourself: This option enables schools to do their own fundraising and register their project on the website where they can then promote to their own networks and community, similar to a crowd funding style project. The schools then promote the project
- Donor’s Choice: A donor can choose to support any school they like, as long as it meets the criteria of Australian Schools Plus .
One example of a school that Australian Schools Plus helped was Montrose Bay High School in Tasmania. The school wanted to implement a MindMatters program, designed by BeyondBlue, to help build students’ resilience and tackle their mental health problems. Through working with Australian Schools Plus, the school was able to generate $20,000 to help introduce the program last year.
Following the passing of a tax bill in Federal Government almost one year ago, the organisation has raised over $500,000 for more than 40 disadvantaged schools across the country. This positive response from philanthropists and community members is evident that Australians believe that a great education really can make a difference for a child’s future.
Here at Fish, we’re all about education too, so we’re excited about the possibilities for the future of Australian schools with this incredible organisation in operation. This Thank You Thursday, at the beginning of another school year, we give a big A+ to Australian Schools Plus and wish them all the best in their mission.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick