October 2 2023

Grants Round Up October 2023

By The Ian Potter Foundation

Three young people on a river raft hanging on the looking at the camera smiling.
Ganbina Youth Leadership Program participants Hariyett Peters, Connor Moore and Chenneil Fowler at Murray Life Adventures camp

The latest funding round (Round 2 2023) awarded $6.6 million in grants. These comprised: 

  • 5 Early Childhood Development grants totalling $4,500,000, and 
  • 6 Community Wellbeing grants totalling $1,810,000. 

The Ian Potter Cultural Trust was awarded $291,865 towards its latest round of emerging artist grants. 

Early Childhood Development


Australian Schools Plus

Capacity building funding
$1.5 million over 5 years

Australian Schools Plus (Schools Plus) is a national not-for-profit that helps children facing disadvantage to thrive at school. Schools Plus invests in schools in disadvantaged communities, providing funding, coaching and knowledge to empower teachers and bring to life projects that create lasting change.

Over the last nine years, Schools Plus has raised more than $60m supporting 1,500 school communities, established the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards acknowledging over 72 school leaders, and the flagship Fair Education program. There is an increasing need and demand from schools for funding support, Schools Plus is only able to fund approximately 20% of the applications received.

Going forward, Schools Plus has set an ambitious goal of creating education opportunities for 150,000 children and young people by 2027 –a 50% increase on their current annual reach. This requires significant investment in its capacity as an organisation, specifically its people, evaluation framework and systems, so that it can continue to innovate and scale its work to overcome the impact of disadvantage on Australian children's education.

Schools Plus fulfils a unique role; this capacity-building funding will allow the organisation to increase its reach and impact over the next 5 years, supporting more disadvantaged schools and students.


Queensland Brain Institute (University of Queensland)

Thriving kids, active brains: A collaborative to support early child development
$1.25 million over 5 years

The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland is Queensland's leading centre for brain research, devoted to a fundamental understanding of how the brain works from its smallest components through to the integrated networks that underpin human thought and behaviour.

Building on the opportunity provided by the Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership (TQKP), QBI is developing a neuroscience-informed training program in Australia targeting the Early Childhood Development (ECD) workforce. The training program aims to build workforce capacity in understanding brain health and architecture so that ECD professionals can better understand when and where to intervene, and how to best support children's brain development and help nurture children's resilience. Brain development in the early years underpins lifetime learning, emotional regulation, well-being, and social inclusion. 

The training program will build on the evidence-based Brain Story program developed by the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, and the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, adapting it for an Australian context based on the five indicators of development assessed in the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) 

This project is highly collaborative  the QBI will co-lead this project with the TQKP, a systems change initiative bringing together tertiary, philanthropic, not-for-profit, government and community entities to improve outcomes for Queensland children. The partnership has reach across metropolitan, regional, and remote communities, and strong links into communities experiencing developmental vulnerability.  

The 5-year grant will support the development of the training program and resources, and a pilot of the program in Queensland targeting neuroscience for those working with young children during the formative years of brain development has been shown to have a significant positive impact on children's development.  

Telethon Kids Institute

Transforming early childhood education and care through the delivery of the Inklings program
$750,000 over 5 years

Babies are born with remarkable abilities to communicate, yet sometimes the social and communication skills of babies can develop differently from what we typically expect. Telethon Kids Institute's Inklings is a program for babies aged 6–18 months who are showing early differences in their social interaction and communication development. It is a pre-emptive,  y therapy that facilitates social and communication development by supporting sensitive and responsive infant-caregiver interactions.  

Inklings has decades of developmental and clinical research supporting its efficacy, which has shown the intervention continues to have beneficial effects at least up until age 3 years (i.e., 2 years after the completion of Inklings). Relatively brief in duration and backed by the highest quality evidence, Inklings provides enormous promise to transform support for the ~22% of children in Australia who are developmentally vulnerable.

This multi-year grant supports Telethon Kids Institute to adapt and pilot the Inklings program, specifically in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings. The benefit of applying the program to ECEC settings is that it reduces the wait times of seeing an allied health professional as well as reducing the stigma of attending a referred program. ECEC professionals provide caregiving to children on a regular and consistent basis so they can deliver and implement key developmental supports daily.

Telethon Kids Institute's ultimate vision is that children who require early developmental social and communication support (skills that are critical for future health, learning, social, and occupational outcomes) are able to access it through either a clinical model of Inklings (delivered by allied health practitioners) or a community-embedded model of Inklings (i.e., in ECEC settings, delivered by educators). Support from the Foundation will improve access to the program in community settings.


Community Wellbeing



Capacity building funding to support the expansion of Ganbina’s Jobs4U2 program
$450,000 over 3 years

In 1997, Ganbina was founded around the issue of equal economic participation for Indigenous people living in the Goulburn Valley in Shepparton, Victoria. Its approach is unique ­– mentoring young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, from the ages of 6 to 25 years old, to make sure they gain the education, skills and life experiences they need to unlock their full potential. Its program includes learning support, life skills training, cultural appreciation, career guidance and financial assistance.

Ganbina is based in Shepparton, where it reaches about 40% of all Indigenous students with excellent outcomes: 1,740 youth supported since inception, 92% of Year 12 completion, and 90% engaged in post-education training or employment.    

The Jobs4U2 Program has three main pillars: Jobs education, Jobs training and Jobs employment.  and now includes over 500 activities and reaches over 350 participants annually.

As a result of a pilot program previously funded by The Ian Potter Foundation, two additional sites are now operational in Queensland (Bundaberg and Townsville). The Ganbina model works well, even when transferred to a different context. This has encouraged Ganbina to pursue a more structured approach to expansion as it looks to establish the program in Cairns, the Gold Coast, Albury/Wodonga, and Hobart in the near future. This will require additional resources at the local level and increased overall management by the organisation. 

This multi-year grant will establish and consolidate funding partnerships and increase the impact footprint of the Jobs4U2 model. 

The Reconnect Project Limited

Employment & Training in Smart Device Repair for Neurodivergent Young Adults
$330,000 over 3 years

The Reconnect Project distributes refurbished mobile technology to people experiencing hardship and supports the training and employment of young adults on the autism spectrum. It is the only charity mobile devices repair/resell social enterprise in Australia.

Donated mobile phones, tablets and laptops are refurbished at the repair shopfront in Penshurst (South Sydney) by young adults who are learning repair skills under the guidance of skilled technicians. Through a network of caseworkers at social service organisations across greater Sydney, refurbished devices are provided to women fleeing family violence, refugees seeking connection to services, and young people without access to a computer to complete studies or apply for work.

Reconnect offers School Leaver Employment Support (SLES) programs to neurodivergent young people (aged 19–21), providing technical skills development, retail customer service and workplace skills in a real-world retail repair environment. Through training and mentoring, the young people engaged so far have found employment both with Reconnect and with other small businesses.

Reconnect now aims to establish an accredited training program that will focus on ensuring that the needs of neurodivergent young adults are understood and incorporated into the program so that they achieve their personal goals, and gain valuable skills and work experience while greatly improving their employment prospects.

This multi-year grant will support Reconnect to produce training materials and Units of Competency specifically formulated for the repair of mobile devices, employ a Trainer to deliver the technical training component, produce digital materials so that the training program can be delivered via remote/distance learning; and employ a Program Manager to work with stakeholders to ensure the training program meets industry requirements and the project is delivered in a timely manner.

Donate devices to Reconnect

The YMCA of the Northern Territory Youth and Community Services Ltd

Remote Pools Project

The Remote Pools Project is a new program model to ensure the safe operation of swimming pools in remote Indigenous communities. It commenced in 2021 in Central Australia as a partnership between the YMCA NT (YNT) and the MacDonnell Regional Council.

With the support of the Foundation, other funding partners and in-kind support from YNT volunteers, YNT will work in close partnership with Roper Gulf Regional Council and Traditional Owners to replicate this program in the communities of Ngukurr and Borroloola, some 300 and 800 km south-east of Katherine, NT.

In remote regions across the Northern Territory, the public swimming pool is a vital community resource and preventative health initiative that supports children and families to improve hygiene and increase physical activity that protects them from the onset of chronic disease whilst enhancing positive social cohesion and reducing the risk of child drowning through water safety education.

There have been ongoing challenges with the management of these community assets, mostly because of the lack of operational personnel, which has historically been sourced from outside the communities.

This project will address these challenges by providing a pathway to ongoing employment for a local workforce, which will make the pools a viable and key asset for both communities.

The Ian Potter Foundation's funding will directly support the delivery of Pool Lifeguard courses in communities by qualified volunteer trainers, internal training and mentoring by permanent Pool Coordinators, and employment of local people (including school leavers) to build strong, capable local teams.

Details of all grants awarded in this round can be found in the Grants Database.