September 24 2020

CEO Update September 2020

By Craig Connelly

Despite the challenges 2020 has thrown at us, here at the Foundation we remain committed to our mission to encourage excellence, enable innovation, facilitate positive social change, and develop Australia’s creativity and capacity as a nation. We achieve this by supporting outstanding charitable organisations that are leaders in their sectors.

This year, the philanthropic sector has rallied to assist the not-for-profit sector to provide additional support for service providers whose work assists those communities experiencing increasing economic stress.

For our part, the Foundation held an additional special Board meeting in July at which several grants were awarded to some of our existing not-for-profit partners. These grants provided timely funding to support these organisations to pivot activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the unfolding economic crisis.  These out-of-round grants were awarded in the Fair pillar funding streams (Community Wellbeing and Early Childhood Development) to support organisations responding to the critical needs of vulnerable communities at this time.   

In the September funding round, five further Community Wellbeing grants were awarded to support initiatives focused on employment support and homelessness prevention for vulnerable groups. Details of these grants and the organisations they support are outlined in the September Grants Round-Up.

Similarly, in July, two early Childhood Development grants were awarded to the University of Wollongong and Playgroup Australia.  Both these grants are community-focused and designed to support the early childhood education and care (ECEC) needs of families with young children in light of the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

At its September meeting, the Board allocated grant funds to initiatives designed to address the long-term needs of the ECEC sector.  Strengthening this sector will not only lead to better outcomes for our children and their families, it will provide the basis for more Australian children to develop to the best of their ability and go on to become positive contributors to Australia’s future prosperity. The importance of such strategic investment is expressed succinctly in an open letter from Professor Fiona Stanley AC FAA (IPF Governor) and Nicola Forrest AO (Minderoo Foundation). The following extract is particularly prescient:

A broad cross-section of the Australian community – educators, researchers, business leaders, unions, health professionals, parents, community organisations, and economists from across the political spectrum is calling on the federal government to invest in a universally accessible, high-quality early learning system, delivered by a skilled and supported workforce.

Such an investment, supporting the important role played by families, will set Australia up for a prosperous, equitable, and sustainable future as we recover from a devastating pandemic.

The Ian Potter Foundation is committed to partnering with other philanthropic funders and the ECEC sector to build capacity, innovate and promote evidence-based best practice. So far this year, the Board has awarded over $2.5m across eight multi-year Early Childhood Development grants specifically designed to address the gaps in data, knowledge and policy research.  This has fully expended our current grantmaking capacity in the Early Childhood Development program area. So, we have decided to defer considering further Early Childhood Development grants until Round 2, 2022.  This hiatus will give our grantees time to report back on their progress and learnings, providing insights that will strengthen our future grantmaking in the Early Childhood Development area.

We remain committed to our mission and vision for a vibrant, fair, healthy and sustainable Australia.