$102,000 for children and families needing a hand

Western Heights College Principal, Fiona Taylor, with Geelong Community Foundation Development Manager, Tony McManus.
Western Heights College Principal, Fiona Taylor, with Geelong Community Foundation Development Manager, Tony McManus.

Students and families across the region who need help with the material costs of attending school have been provided with support through the Geelong Community Foundation’s partnership with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR).

The FRRR Back to School Program — in partnership with a range of Trusts and Foundations, including the Glover Family Trust — has been delivered in the region for many years. Over the past month, The Foundation has delivered $102,000 worth of $50 Target vouchers to 33 primary schools and 13 secondary schools across the region.

Through consultation with Wellbeing Coordinators, teachers and principals ensure the vouchers get to where they are needed most. It is the knowledge of family and individual student circumstances that guides the equitable distribution, although often the need far outweighs our ability to assist. Secondary students living independently and grandparents identified as primary carers where financial challenges exist are often those who benefit most from the vouchers. The vouchers are used to purchase essential school items such as uniforms, clothing for school-based activities, shoes, socks, school bags and stationery. At some schools, the vouchers are also combined with other support packages to families in need.

“I never underestimate the power of a $50 voucher,” shares Gail Rodgers, CEO of the Geelong Community Foundation. “The feedback and stories we receive from the schools is sometimes heart breaking, but I know we are getting help to where it is needed most.”

For Newcomb Secondary College, the Back to School Program offers some of their students the chance to be more engaged and experience learning on the same level as their peers. “Through the relationship with the Foundation, our Wellbeing team offers vouchers to students in need that allow them access to resources to be ready to learn,” explains Chiara Ercoli from Student Engagement and Wellbeing at Newcomb Secondary College. “This year, a student with ADHD who was unable to get to the paediatrician due to a long and extensive waitlist was provided with noise-cancelling headphones through the Back to School Program. This has allowed the student to fully engage in classroom learning, without the distraction of the noise of the class.”