September 24 2020

Grants Round Up September 2020

By The Ian Potter Foundation

Woman holding toddler on her hip
Lulla's Children and Family Centre, Shepparton. Courtesy of SNAICC – National Voice for our Children

In this round, applications were considered within the Fair pillar (comprising Community Wellbeing and Early Childhood Development funding areas) resulting in the Board awarding 10 grants totalling $3,284,000.

Within the Community Wellbeing program, five multi-year grants (totalling $984k) were awarded aiming to prevent homelessness, improve employment opportunities for at-risk individuals and provide wrap-around support for people experiencing mental illness.

Five grants (totalling $2.21m) were awarded to organisations seeking to improve early childhood education and services to ensure all young Australians are provided with the essential building blocks for later life.

Early Childhood Development

The funding objectives of the Early Childhood Development stream are to improve learning and development outcomes for children through innovative programs and sector initiatives in early childhood (0–8 years old). A particular focus is initiatives that recognise and foster parental engagement in their children’s learning and development.  Each of the following initiatives received grants in this round for undertaking important strategic work in strengthening Australia’s ECEC sector and consequently families and their children’s needs.

SNAICC – National Voice for our Children
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Quality Early Learning
$600,000 over three years

SNAICC is a national peak body providing a strong national voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. Indigenous-led, SNAICC has been operating for 40 years and continues to work to advance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s rights to ensure their safety, development and wellbeing.

This project will pilot and start to scale an innovative Indigenous intermediary service model to support community-controlled early learning services post-COVID, improving their quality, viability, sustainability and agency. This is the first phase of a long-term endeavour to develop a robust and responsive support system for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled early learning sector and to strengthen the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice on early childhood development.

The project has strong alignment with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (signed in July 2020 by all Australian Governments) and the national early years strategy which SNAICC has been engaged to co-design.

The Foundation is currently funding World Vision Australia (WVA) and Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ) to employ a similar regional intermediary model focused on remote Aboriginal communities in WA. SNAICC seeks to build on this approach by developing a model that can be implemented and replicated to support a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services across Australia.

Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY)
Strengthening Early Impact in the Early Years
$450,000 over three years

ARACY’s mission is to use evidence-based knowledge to improve the wellbeing of children in Australia so that they can thrive and reach their potential. ARACY brings together researchers, policymakers, practitioners, children and youth to learn from each other and ensure investment, policy, and services for children and young people in Australia are as effective as possible.

This multi-year capacity building grant will support ARACY to provide strategic leadership ensuring a more coordinated approach to early years outcomes across government, business and philanthropy. Specifically, it will enable ARACY to:

  • manage the Early Childhood Impact Alliance (ECIA), a formal network of early childhood funders focused on ensuring strategic investment and philanthropic collaboration
  • provide practical strategic leadership and support to organisations and initiatives working to improve early years outcomes, and
  • increase the ability of the Early Years sector to understand the impact of their work.

Research in Effective Education in Early Childhood (REEaCh) Hub, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne
Educator Wellbeing and Family Engagement Practices
$360,000 over two years

REEaCh, Goodstart and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) will partner on a project to generate insights about innovative family engagement practices implemented by early childhood services during the COVID-19 crisis.

The project team will investigate and document how services remained connected with families during the isolation period, which strategies were effective and why, and which families returned to services or remained engaged with a focus on the perspectives of families who experienced higher levels of vulnerability. The research will also look at educator wellbeing and how educator wellbeing impacted the quality of their practice and capacity to support families throughout the crisis, and the organisational strategies that helped or hindered throughout the crisis.

This project aims to capture, refine and spread innovative practices to other ECEC services. All three partners will contribute to the wider translation of learnings including communication to parent audiences through MCRI’s Raising Children’s Network. Additionally, Early Childhood Australia (ECA) will work with the project team to disseminate learnings to the ECEC sector more broadly.

Smiling Mind
Digital Learning Tool
$500,000 over three years

Smiling Mind, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) and the Raising Children Network (RCN) will partner to develop an innovative platform of extended digital learning resources designed to support children (aged 5–13) development and wellbeing.

This project is the first of its kind, bringing Smiling Mind's highly effective and much-loved mindfulness resources for young children to life through the mainstream broadcasting channels of ABC Me and ABC Kids. This project will significantly expand the reach of Smiling Mind's developmentally appropriate and proven approach to supporting children to learn foundational skills known to protect mental health at a time of acute and growing need.

Smiling Mind’s model is highly regarded and has already proven to be impactful in schools. This initiative will foster greater parental engagement with children's ongoing learning and social and emotional skills development.

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation
Capacity building
$360,000 over three years

This project builds on the success of the Early Years Kitchen Garden Project previously funded through The Alec Prentice Sewell Gift. The resulting kitchen garden program model and support service for the early years sector launched in February 2020 and is currently available to early childhood services across Australia via membership of The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation (SAKGF).

This grant, also awarded through The Alec Prentice Sewell Gift, over three years supports Phase 2 of this project focusing on dissemination, further resource and case study development, and monitoring and evaluation of the program within early childcare programs.  Phase 2 also includes the development of SAKGF’s digital evaluation and support tools for members.

Community Wellbeing

Justice Connect
Preventing future homelessness
$225,000 over three years

Justice Connect will enhance its current online portal which assists tenants to find accurate, responsive information and interactive online resources to take preventative action to avoid homelessness.

Unprecedented challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic means that Australia will almost certainly see its homelessness number rise. However, amongst these ‘future homeless’ is a  cohort of people who would have not had previous experience of financial and housing hardship: casual workers, young people engaged in the hospitality sector, small business owners, individuals who have lost their previously secure job. This group is, mainly, digitally literate and capable to self-advocate if supported to find its way through ‘the system’ and equipped with relevant tools.

This grant supports the expansion of Justice Connect’s online services that will allow many individuals to address their challenges at an earlier stage thus preventing more difficult situations such as evictions, legal issues and homelessness.

Suited to Success
Supporting jobseekers impacted by COVID-19
$225,000 over three years

Suited to Success (STS) helps people in Queensland overcome barriers to employment, and provides employment assistance, career coaching, workshops, styling services (including clothing), and peer support activities.

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of people experiencing unemployment, this capacity-building grant over three years will allow STS to increase its services and reach.

Curtin University
Employment pathway opportunity for neurodiverse individuals
$154,000 over three years

This is the second grant awarded by the Foundation to support Curtin University and its collaborators (Autism West, Therapy Focus and AASQA) to develop a pathway to employment for neurodiverse individuals. This project builds on the grantee's innovative programs that leverage the unique skills and abilities of neurodiverse individuals to develop highly sought-after skills in the software testing/Information Technology Communication (ITC) sector.

The main goal is to find more effective ways to engage and support neurodiverse young people to reach their full potential.

This project aims to move the existing successful programs to an online learning platform; grow the ExteND Testing social enterprise into the largest employer of neurodiverse individuals in Australia; and deliver an open-source business model enabling employers to harness the unique skills of neurodiverse individuals. The new online platform will also be used to develop and deliver a digital literacy program for Aboriginal teenagers in partnership with the Wirrpanda Foundation.

Just Home Margaret River Inc
Augusta–Margaret River Community Resilience Project
$180,000 over three years

Just Home Margaret River Inc. is a grassroots volunteer-led movement for housing justice in the Augusta–Margaret River (AMR) local government area in WA. This multi-year grant supports Just Home to deliver a new Community Resilience Project with frontline workers to support and advocate for at-risk residents to access and maintain housing while building strategic partnerships to develop innovative social housing in the community. The project builds on the learnings of the successful Housing Advocacy Project delivered by Just Home over the last three years.

First Step Program
The Road Home
$200,000 over two years

First Step is a not-for-profit mental health, addiction and legal services hub in St Kilda that treats approximately 2600 people per year. First Step provides a whole-of-person, collaborative treatment model that incorporates addiction medicine GPs, criminal/family-violence lawyers, mental health nursing and other services.

This grant supports The Road Home project which will replicate this comprehensive approach in two crisis accommodation settings partnering with service providers Launch Housing (women’s crisis accommodation in East St Kilda) and The Salvation Army (men’s crisis accommodation in West Melbourne).

All grants awarded in this round can be found in the Grants Database.