Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal
On Ngadjuri, Peramangk and Kaurna Country
The Barossa Valley in South Australia is a renowned wine-producing region northeast of Adelaide. When the COVID pandemic hit, tourism and wine exports significantly decreased, which placed a big financial stress on families in the Barossa. With the added pressure of drought, the region was seeing distressing numbers of mental health incidents and homelessness impacting the community.
Not-for-profit organisation Foundation Barossa has been working hard in the region since 2002 to encourage and support philanthropy to build and nurture their own community’s strength and assets. In recent years, Foundation Barossa has worked closely with several schools in the area where extra support is needed.
Foundation Barossa has been a big supporter of FRRR’s Back to School (BTS) program for a long time, and liaise with school principals and school welfare teachers to ensure that families in need receive the extra support they require.
Five hundred and fifty vouchers worth $50 were distributed to 13 schools, both primary and secondary, for the 2022 school year, thanks to the Fire Fight Australia Fund and a private donor who support FRRR’s BTS program. Students could use these vouchers to purchase school supplies like uniforms, stationery, lunchboxes and anything else that would make their education experience easier and relieve some of the financial pressure from families.
Together with matched funding provided by the Origin Energy Foundation through FRRR and local sponsorship from Barossa Real Estate, a further 203 vouchers were distributed, bringing the total to 753; the Foundation’s highest number to date. The success of the voucher rollout has been measured through an increase in student attendance and retention, and in general an improvement in student wellbeing. The Foundation has also noted a big benefit to the teachers at these schools who would sometimes become distressed or concerned for their students.
Here are some of the happy testimonials:
- “I would like to say thank you very much for choosing our family to receive the vouchers from Foundation Barossa. I lost my job back in October and am a sole parent. My pride was allowed no place when my boys handed them to me. Having only found a part-time job in the last week means the vouchers were very much appreciated and unexpected.” – Parent, Nuriootpa High School & Flexible Learning Centre
- “Teachers were very grateful and expressed they felt better going into the school holidays knowing that students had access to vouchers.” – Nuriootpa Primary School
- “Thank you so much for the Kmart voucher. My daughter purchased a new pencil case and pencils for schools. She thought Christmas had come early!” – Parent, Tanunda Primary School
- “We had a family arrive at our school at the beginning of term 2 who were homeless and living in a caravan with family members. On the first day when we met the mum, we gave her a voucher for each student to help get them some school supplies. She was so thankful that she was brought to tears, as she said they needed new school bags and she would now be able to get those.” Kapunda Primary School
For more inspiring stories like this, head to our FY 2021/22 Annual Review.
More than $770,000 in vouchers distributed
Students and families in remote, rural and regional parts of Australia will start the 2022 school year with a little extra support, thanks to the generosity of FRRR and its donors, and the Community Foundations and groups helping to distribute the more than 15,700 Back to School vouchers across the country.
FRRR’s Back to School (BTS) program partners with community groups and Community Foundations to provide $50 gift vouchers to local families in need. The vouchers can be redeemed at select national retailers or local businesses for school essentials like uniforms, shoes, school bags or stationery.
Now in its 18th year, the BTS program has worked with community organisations in rural communities to distribute more than $10.7 million in BTS vouchers and help in excess of 216,000 students and their families get what they need to start the school year on a positive note. This includes families that have been impacted by natural disasters such as 2019-20 Black Summer Fires, flooding events, and the economic impact of the COVID pandemic.
Sarah Matthee, FRRR’s General Manager Partnerships & Services, said that the Back to School program continues to give a helping hand to rural families doing it tough.
“The unique aspect of the BTS program is that it taps into the deep understanding and the trusted relationships that local organisations have within their communities to ensure that these vouchers go to families most in need of the support.
“For many rural families, schooling and finances continue to be impacted by the pandemic. Although fifty dollars may not seem much, that little bit of extra help can go towards easing their worries in some small way,” Ms Matthee said.
In some communities, local Community Foundations also got behind the BTS program, with FRRR and its donors offering to match local donations, dollar for dollar. This year communities raised almost $63,000 in local fundraising across the country. Thanks to this community support, together with funds from the Origin Energy Foundation, FRRR was able to provide an extra 2,514 vouchers. One hundred percent of all donations to the program go directly into purchasing a $50 voucher to support a primary or secondary school student in need.
Eyre Peninsula Community Foundation, in South Australia, has worked with FRRR since 2009 to distribute BTS vouchers to local students and their families.
Garry Downey, Chair of Eyre Peninsula Community Foundation, said that the organisation sees huge need to continue to help families start their children off well-prepared for their learning years.
“The support of the FRRR program is truly valued, and their willingness to match locally donated funds creates an outstanding opportunity for Eyre Peninsula residents and businesses to boost the impact for local kids.”
You can see the full list of recipient organisations and the more than 100 remote, rural and regional communities that will benefit from these vouchers below.
BTS vouchers are funded through the support of FRRR donor partners, which include Portland House Foundation, Perpetual Foundation – Julian Flett Endowment, News Corp Australia, Fire Fight Australia Fund, Counter Point Community Services (Cycle Recycle), Bertalli Family Foundation, UNICEF Australia and Origin Energy Foundation, as well as private and individual donors.
For more information about the program, visit https://frrr.org.au/back-to-school/.
To support grant programs like this through FRRR, you can make a tax-deductible donation at frrr.org.au/giving/.
The full list of recipient organisations are below.
|Isolated Childrens Parents Association Northern Territory State Council||Mataranka, Daly River, New Castle Waters, Ti Tree|
|NEW SOUTH WALES|
|Community Foundation for Albury Wodonga Region Ltd||Albury, Wodonga, Corowa, Howlong|
|Edward Public School Parents & Citizens Association||Deniliquin|
|First Steps Count Incorporated||Taree, Wingham, Old Bar , Nabiac|
|Foundation Broken Hill Limited||Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Menindee|
|Mumbulla Foundation||Bega Valley Shire|
|The Southern Highlands Foundation||Bowral, Berrima, Mittagong, Moss Vale|
|The Trustee for Northern Rivers Community Foundation||Alstonville, Ballina, Banora Point, Baryulgil|
|Volunteering Coffs Harbour Incorporated||Coffs Harbour|
|Walhallow Parents & Citizens Association||Walhallow|
|Biggenden Primary P&C Association||Biggenden|
|Buderim Foundation Limited||Buderim, Mountain Creek, Sippy Downs, Kuluin|
|Cowboys Charity Limited||Badu Island, Bamaga, Boigu Island, Chinchilla|
|Peachester State School P&C Association||Peachester|
|Tara & District Family Support Committee Incorporated||Tara, Chinchilla, Miles, Wandoan|
|Eyre Peninsula Community Foundation Inc||Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Ceduna, Streaky Bay|
|Foundation Barossa||Nuriootpa, Angaston, Tanunda, Kapunda|
|Fleurieu Community Foundation Ltd||Strathalbyn, Goolwa, Middleton, Port Elliot|
|Stand Like Stone Foundation Ltd||Allendale East, Beachport, Bordertown, Frances|
|George Town Neighbourhood House Inc||George Town|
|Swansea Primary School Parents and Friends Association||Swansea|
|Ballarat Foundation United Way Inc||Blowhard, Ballan, Bungaree, Cape Clear|
|Bass Coast Community Foundation Open Fund||Wonthaggi, Waterline Area, San Remo Area, Cowes Ventnor|
|Donald Learning Group Inc||Donald, Marnoo|
|Into Our Hands Community Foundation Limited||Wangaratta, Milawa, Oxley, Glenrowan, Moyhu, Whitfield|
|South West Community Foundation||Warrnambool|
|St Arnaud Neighbourhood House Inc||St Arnaud|
|Mirboo North and District Community Foundation Inc||Mirboo North, Thorpdale, Yinnar, Boolarra|
|The Trustee for Geelong Community Foundation||Greater Geelong, Winchelsea, Torquay, Meredith|
|Tomorrow Today Education Foundation Ltd||Baddaginnie, Benalla, Broken Creek, Devenish|
|Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) Limited||Maffra, Wurruk, Longford, Seaspray|
|Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency Co op Ltd||Morwell, Moe, Wangarratta, Wodonga|
The Mirboo North and District Community Foundation (MNDCF) was set up in 2010 to strengthen their community. Serving Mirboo North and surrounding rural townships, two hours southeast of Melbourne, they embody their mission statement of building strong community through giving, facilitating and investing.
Their partnership with FRRR, through a Community Foundation Fundraising Account established in 2018, has helped them fund numerous community organisations and projects in the area, including buildings – all in the name of a cohesive and flourishing community.
An FRRR Community Foundation Account allows organisations to leverage FRRR’s special tax status and secure donations for an agreed purpose, with FRRR providing a tax deduction for the donor where required, and the funds ultimately benefit local priority projects. It also supports Foundations to give organisations in their community that do not hold DGR-1 status.
In this last year, two projects have stood out among all the wonderful work the MNDCF does. One is building a Medical Centre for the Mirboo North community. Earlier in the year, they purchased a block of land. With this fantastic new facility, they aim to bring affordable and accessible healthcare to the region.
MNDCF also lent their support to the Mirboo North Community Pool project. This redevelopment involves updating the old pool structure and expanding it to support the community more effectively, especially through safe swimming classes and health and wellbeing activities. With an $18,000 contribution from the Foundation made possible through the Community Foundation Account, and their grand reopening scheduled at the end of October 2021, this project has all the hallmarks of success. The Mirboo North community is justifiably proud of the efforts of all involved.
MNDCF has also been a longstanding partner in FRRR’s Back to School program. Since 2012, they have distributed more than $38,000 in what has become a cornerstone of giving in the community. The Back to School program assists Australian rural and regional communities by distributing $50 vouchers to students and families in need of assistance with items like uniforms, shoes and stationery. In the 2021 program MNDCF gave out 90 vouchers to families in need across the district.
MNDCF is a shining example of how place-based philanthropy can support the growth of a community.
More than 6,800 Back to School vouchers distributed
More than 6,800 students and families in places recovering from the 2019/20 bushfires will head Back to School in semester 2 with a little extra support, thanks to the generosity of donors from across Australia and overseas.
Funded through a special Bushfire Response round of the Back to School (BTS) program, FRRR has partnered with local community groups and Community Foundations in impacted regions to distribute 6,814 $50 gift vouchers to families in need.
Students can redeem the vouchers for school essentials such as winter uniforms, school bags, shoes or stationery. To date, BTS vouchers valued at more than $822,000 have been distributed to families in fire-affected communities since June 2020.
Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that for these students and their families, the vouchers provide a little extra help as they continue to navigate the recovery journey, which has certainly been complicated by the pandemic.
“Last year many of these families were home schooling throughout the colder months. So, with most back at school, some are only now realising there are items that still need replacing following the bushfires.
“Fifty dollars may not seem much, but for these families it can have a big impact, helping to cover the cost of a couple of school jumpers or a winter uniform, new books to start the term or even a sleeping bag that a child can use for school camp.
“We’re grateful to our Community Foundation partners and other groups that are working on the ground in the impacted regions. Their discreet distribution of the vouchers to those in need means families can receive support without having to ask for it,” Ms Egleton said.
Tenterfield Lions Club is one of the organisations helping to distribute the vouchers to students in their region. Club President, Lisa Dalton, said that the vouchers will help parents with the costs of winter school essentials and will also benefit the Shire when the vouchers are redeemed locally.
“We’ve been through the wringer over the last couple of years, and I hope this is just a small way of letting the wider community know we are all in this together,” Ms Dalton said.
The BTS program distributes vouchers to students and families across Australia, including those in regions not impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires. In total, 64 Community Foundations and locally-based community groups have helped FRRR to distribute $1,075,400 in vouchers to through the BTS program this year.
BTS vouchers are funded by FRRR and its donor partners, which include News Corp, Australia Post, Fire Fight Australia concert, Counter Point Community Services (Cycle Recycle), Portland House Foundation, UNICEF Australia, J & M Nolan Family Trust, Bertalli Family Foundation, June Canavan Foundation, and Origin Energy Foundation, as well as individual donors.
Vouchers were awarded to support the following bushfire-affected Local Government Areas:
East Gippsland (VIC)
Greater Hume Shire (NSW)
Snowy Valleys (NSW)
Bega Valley (NSW)
Clarence Valley (NSW)
Richmond Valley (NSW)
Kangaroo Island (SA)
Yorke Peninsula (SA)
Community Foundations and local organisations encouraged to apply
FRRR is asking Community Foundations and local organisations in places impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires to assist with the distribution of vouchers to families in need of support as part of its long-running Back to School (BTS) program.
FRRR is currently seeking local partners to help distribute more than $500,000 in $50 gift vouchers into areas affected by the Black Summer bushfires. Families will be able to redeem the vouchers for school essentials, such as school uniforms, shoes, school bags and stationery.
The aim of the BTS program is to help students by providing the key items they need, which may have been lost during the bushfires, so that they can focus on their education and keep learning.
As part of the BTS program, FRRR partners with community groups and Community Foundations who can discretely distribute the vouchers to local families in need. This means parents don’t have to apply for the vouchers but still receive support.
More than 5,400 students have already been given a helping hand this year, with vouchers valued at more than $250,000 having been distributed to families in places affected by the Black Summer bushfires, thanks to the generosity of donors from across Australia.
Jeanice Henderson, BTS Program Coordinator, said that while $50 dollars may not seem much, in FRRR’s experience, it makes a practical difference, especially for those who may have lost everything during the fires.
“For families and students impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires, recovery is already a difficult journey. These vouchers will mean they have a helping hand when it comes to covering the costs of things like books, stationery, or winter uniforms and shoes,” Ms Henderson explained.
“We are grateful to the Community Foundations and local organisations that have partnered with us so far as part of the BTS program. These organisations know the challenges that locals face when it comes to disaster recovery and can reach those families and students most in need of support.
“We hope other local organisations, which we know are already doing amazing work to support families like these in their communities, will come on board to help distribute our BTS vouchers,” Ms Henderson said.
Community Foundations and local not-for-profit community organisations can apply for vouchers via the Back to School page.
Applications close Wednesday, 31 March 2021. Grants will be announced, and vouchers distributed, in late May 2021, ahead of Term 3.
Visit here for more information on FRRR’s Back to School program and other grant programs to support communities before, during, and after a natural disaster or drought, and build communities’ climate resilience.
FRRR and community groups help young people impacted by bushfires
More than 5,400 students and families in places affected by the Black Summer bushfires are being given a helping hand at the start the new school year, thanks to the generosity of donors from across Australia.
Funded through FRRR’s Back to School (BTS) program, students will be able to redeem the $50 gift vouchers for essential school items such as uniforms, school bags or stationery. So far this year, vouchers valued at more than $250,000 have been distributed to families impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires.
FRRR partners with local community groups and Community Foundations who discretely distribute the vouchers to families in need. This means parents don’t have to apply for them but still get the support they need.
The vouchers are funded by FRRR and its donor partners, which include News Corp, Australia Post, Fire Fight Australia concert, Portland House Foundation, UNICEF Australia, J & M Nolan Family Trust, Bertalli Family Foundation, June Canavan Foundation, and Origin Energy Foundation, as well as individual donors.
Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that for these students and their families, getting back to school is an important part of the recovery journey.
“As families continue to navigate their recovery journey after the bushfires, they are also dealing with the additional challenges caused by the pandemic.
“These vouchers are a small way of helping students and families to have one less thing to worry about – whether they cover the cost of a pair of school shoes, a couple of school jumpers, or even a sleeping bag that a child can use for school camp,” Ms Egleton explained.
Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF) is one of the Community Foundations helping to distribute the vouchers in their region. NRCF Executive Officer, Emily Berry, said that the vouchers are for purchasing items that students may have lost in the fires and have never been able to replace due to financial difficulties.
“We hope these vouchers support inclusion for the students, helping them fit into their school environment and go on to realise their potential, instead of feeling different, or excluded because they are unable to purchase school essentials,” Ms Berry said.
As part of the BTS program, a further 30 Community Foundations and locally-based community groups are helping to distribute 7,000 BTS vouchers to students and families in rural regions not affected by the 2019-20 bushfires.
In total, more than $590,000 has been distributed in vouchers to students and families across Australia through the BTS program this year.
“Last year was tough for everyone, especially for those living in the bush. Fifty dollars may not seem much, but for these families it can help to alleviate the pressure they face at the start of a new school year,” Ms Egleton said.
From our previous experience in supporting disaster-affected communities, we know that young people have been significantly affected by the fires, and it can take families a long time to get back on their feet again. FRRR is conducting another dedicated round of the Back to School program, which will provide vouchers in time for winter uniform and shoes. Applications are open now.
Vouchers were awarded to support the following Local Government Areas:
|Bushfire Recovery stream|
|Alpine (S)||Lismore (C)|
|Bega Valley (A)||Richmond Valley (A)|
|Central Coast (C) (NSW)||Snowy Monaro Regional (A)|
|Clarence Valley (A)||Snowy Valleys (A)|
|East Gippsland (S)||Towong (S)|
|Greater Hume Shire (A)||Wingecarribee (A)|
|Kyogle (A)||Yorke Peninsula (DC)|
|Albury (C)||Cleve (DC)||Mid Murray (DC)||Streaky Bay (DC)|
|Alexandrina (DC)||Cloncurry (S)||Mid-Coast (A)||Sunshine Coast (R)|
|Alice Springs (T)||Cowra (A)||Moorabool (S)||Tatiara (DC)|
|Ballarat (C)||Elliston (DC)||Mount Gambier (C)||Toowoomba (R)|
|Ballina (A)||Federation (A)||Mount Isa (C)||Tumby Bay (DC)|
|Barkly (R)||Franklin Harbour (DC)||Naracoorte and Lucindale (DC)||Tweed (A)|
|Barossa (DC)||Golden Plains (S)||Northern Grampians (S)||Victor Harbor (C)|
|Bass Coast (S)||Grant (DC)||Peterborough (DC)||Victoria Daly (R)|
|Baw Baw (S)||Hepburn (S)||Port Augusta (C)||Wagga Wagga (C)|
|Benalla (RC)||Hinchinbrook (S)||Port Lincoln (C)||Wangaratta (RC)|
|Boulia (S)||Indigo (S)||Port Pirie City and Dists (M)||Wattle Range (DC)|
|Broken Hill (C)||Kimba (DC)||Pyrenees, Vic||Whyalla (C)|
|Buloke (S)||Kingston (DC) (SA)||Richmond (S)||Wodonga (C)|
|Byron (A)||Kyogle (A)||Robe (DC)||Wudinna (DC)|
|Campaspe (S)||Latrobe (C) (Vic.)||Roper Gulf (R)||Yankalilla (DC)|
|Ceduna (DC)||Light (RegC)||South Gippsland (S)||Yorke Peninsula (DC)|
|Central Darling (A)||Lower Eyre Peninsula (DC)||Strathbogie (S)|
Community Foundations and local organisations encouraged to apply
6 October 2020: The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) is seeking local partners in bushfire-affected communities to assist with the distribution of a special bushfire recovery stream of its long-running Back to School program.
Thanks to generous support from donors, FRRR has more than $767,000 in $50 vouchers to distribute in areas affected by the Black Summer bushfires. These vouchers can be redeemed for school essentials, such as school uniforms, shoes, school bags and stationery, which may have been lost during the bushfires. The aim is to help students start the 2021 school year with the key items they need to be ready to learn.
To ensure support reaches people truly in need, FRRR partners with Community Foundations and locally-based community organisations that can distribute the vouchers discretely, without parents having to apply for them.
Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that one of the key reasons the program has been a success over the past 15 years has been the involvement of local organisations to help coordinate voucher distribution.
“Having run this program since 2005, we know that it’s critical for us to have local partners, on the ground in communities, who can coordinate the distribution of these vouchers through schools, welfare organisations and community support networks, so the funds really get to those in need,” Ms Egleton said.
“We already have many long-standing partnerships, but we are seeking to expand them so that we have a partner in each of the LGA’s impacted by the Black Summer bushfires to help coordinate voucher distribution on behalf of their Shire. We are encouraging Community Foundations and backbone community organisations in these bushfire-affected communities to apply.
“This year has been full of extreme disruptions for these students and families impacted by last summer’s bushfires. As they slowly go back to face-to-face schooling, these children will not only be re-engaging in their education, but also re-establishing social connections with friends, both of which are very important steps in the recovery process,” Ms Egleton explained.
While $50 dollars may not seem much, in FRRR’s experience, it makes a practical difference. For families in need, it can mean that they can buy the books, shoes, uniform items, and even equipment like steel-capped boots or sleeping bags, so students can participate fully in things like work experience or school camps. For students and families doing it tough, it means they can focus on their recovery, education and on building a strong support network, rather than on the stress of not having basic school items or missing out on extracurricular activities.
FRRR’s Back to School Bushfire Response stream is possible thanks to the support of a number of donors, including News Corp Australia, Australia Post, Fire Fight Australia Fund, Portland House Foundation, UNICEF Australia and Origin Energy Foundation.
Community Foundations and local not-for-profit community organisations can apply for vouchers via the FRRR website. Applications close Friday, 30 October 2020. Grants will be announced at the end of November 2020 and vouchers will be distributed in January 2021, ahead of Term 1.
FRRR’s focus is on medium to long-term recovery of disaster-affected communities. FRRR has already awarded more than $2 million in support for Black Summer bushfire recovery, with further grants to be announced in early 2021.
Since 2005, FRRR’s Back to School program has helped nearly 170,000 disadvantaged students by giving them a $50 gift voucher that can be redeemed for school necessities, such as uniforms, shoes, school bags and stationery. FRRR waives its administration fee on the Back to School program, so that every dollar donated to the program goes directly to the vouchers. The Back to School Bushfire Response stream ran earlier this year, providing nearly 4,000 students impacted by the Black Summer bushfires with a $50 voucher to help with replacing school necessities
30 June 2020: Nearly 4,000 students impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires have been given a helping hand with replacements for the essential school items they lost during summer’s bushfires. The support has come from the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and its donor partners, which include News Corp, Australia Post, Fire Fight Australia concert, Portland House Foundation, UNICEF Australia and Origin Energy Foundation.
FRRR ran a special round of its Back to School program, which provides $50 gift vouchers to students in rural communities and is normally run annually to support the start of the school year. To ensure support discretely reaches people truly in need, FRRR partners with community groups and Community Foundations who distribute vouchers, without parents having to apply for them.
Back to School vouchers can be redeemed for necessities, such as school uniforms, shoes, school bags and stationery, ensuring students have what they need to continue to engage with their education.
Through this special round of Back to School, FRRR awarded 3,956 vouchers totalling $197,800 to nine community groups in bushfire affected regions of Victoria and NSW. There was $965,000 available to communities through this program, but it appears COVID-19 affected demand for the vouchers, perhaps because schools weren’t operating normally.
Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, says for these students and their families, getting back to school is an important part of the recovery journey.
“For students in bushfire affected areas, it’s been a very disrupted start to the 2020 school year, with COVID-19 meaning many have been learning from home since early March. It’s only now, as they are heading back to face-to-face schooling, that many are realising just what items they are missing and need to replace so that they are ready to learn and fully engage in their education.
“Fifty dollars may not seem much, but for these families it can mean that they can buy the books, shoes, uniform items, even equipment that will allow them to participate fully in extracurricular activities, such as steel-capped boots for work experience or sleeping bags, so they can join in school camps. It’s just one small way FRRR can help to alleviate the pressure still faced by these students and their families,” said Ms Egleton.
Vouchers were awarded to support the following Local Government Areas:
- Bega Valley , NSW
- Clarence Valley, NSW
- Eurobodalla, NSW
- Greater Hume Shire, NSW
- Kyogle, NSW
- Lithgow, NSW
- Mid-Coast, NSW
- Richmond Valley, NSW
- Snowy Valleys, NSW
- Tenterfield, NSW
- Towong, NSW and VIC
- Alpine, VIC
- East Gippsland, VIC
- Wellington, VIC
Kate Weiss, Fundraising and Marketing Support Officer from the Community Foundation for Albury Wodonga says their organisation is working directly with school principals and welfare officers in their region devastated by the 2019/2020 bushfires, including schools in the Greater Hume Shire, Towong Shire and parts of the Snowy Valleys Council.
“These vouchers will have an enormous impact on the students in the bushfire affected communities. Some families lost homes and everything in them. Receiving a voucher will mean they can purchase the clothing and equipment they really need.”
FRRR will make another distribution of Back to School vouchers for bushfire-affected students to support them at the start of the 2021 school year, recognising needs will continue to evolve over the course of the year.
FRRR’s focus is on medium to long-term recovery of disaster-affected communities. These grants mean that to date, FRRR has awarded nearly $1M in bushfire recovery support, with further grants to be announced in the next couple of weeks.
Bendigo, 6 March 2020: The breadth and impact of the bushfires experienced across Australia over spring and summer mean that many children living in rural, regional and remote communities will not have what they need to start second term.
Since 2005, the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal’s (FRRR) Back to School program has helped more than 165,000 disadvantaged students by giving them a $50 gift voucher that can be redeemed for school necessities, such as uniforms, shoes, school bags and stationery.
Thanks to the generosity of our donor partners, in the wake of the bushfire crisis, many more students will get the helping hand they need.
FRRR will run a special round of its Back to School program to provide $50 vouchers to children and families in need in rural communities within local government areas with a bushfire disaster declaration, from September 2019 to January / February 2020. The vouchers can be redeemed at Target stores or select local stationery and uniform retailers in local communities.
FRRR CEO, Natalie Egleton says that the organisation ensures the vouchers get to those who need it.
“FRRR partners with Community Foundations and local community organisations, who can discretely ensure support reaches people, without them having to apply for it.
“We expect to distribute up to 15,500 vouchers to fire-affected families. To work swiftly, FRRR will seek to work with Foundations and organisations with whom we’ve partnered previously, as well as seek applications from other backbone organisations in communities where we’ve previously not distributed vouchers,” explains Ms Egleton.
Community Foundations and local community organisations can apply for vouchers via the FRRR website. Vouchers will be distributed in May 2020.
“Fifty dollars may not seem like much, but we know that this does make a difference, helping to offset the cost of school books, stationery, shoes, winter clothes and even equipment that enables students to participate fully in extracurricular activities, such as steel-capped boots for work experience or sleeping bags, so they join in school camps,” says Ms Egleton.
FRRR waives its administration fee on the Back to School program.
The Back to School Bushfire Response program is just one of the ways that FRRR is assisting fire-affected communities to get back on their feet. Working to support needs in the medium to long-term, that is 12-18 months following the bushfires, grants from FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund will be available to support community leaders to implement what they need in their community. That could be support for fatigued volunteer leaders, repairing vital community infrastructure or ensuring psychological support is available when it is most needed, for example. Grants could also be used to prepare for future disasters. Additionally, FRRR will be offering a special grant stream through its flexible Strengthening Rural Communities program for communities that identify more immediate needs and for donors wishing for their funds to be used in full in the medium-term recovery period.
Bendigo, 7 February 2018: More than $565,000 is being distributed via this year’s FRRR Back to School program, helping rural children and their families to access quality educational experiences. In total, more than 11,000 country children will receive support.
FRRR’s Back to School program provides $50 vouchers that are redeemable at either Target or select local retailers for items necessary to start the school year. They are distributed via community groups that understand their community’s needs and those who most need assistance. This way, families in need receive invaluable support, without having to apply for it.
FRRR’s CEO, Natalie Egleton, said that she is incredibly proud to be able to facilitate a program that helps to change the lives and enhance educational outcomes of school kids in rural Australia.
“The Back to School program means that students and their families in rural and regional Australia who are doing it tough have what they need to start the school year on a positive note. Simply having a uniform that fits, new stationery or a new lunch box for school, just like everyone else, can be the catalyst to get kids engaged again in their schooling. It means they fit in and don’t stand out for the wrong reasons, so they can get on with learning.
“FRRR’s Back to School program has a number of generous donors, including The Origin Foundation, Audi Foundation, Aurizon Community Giving Fund and Scenic World, a number of Community Foundations, as well as many private and individual donors. Without them, this program would not reach those people who really need it. We greatly appreciate their support, as the vouchers make a huge difference.”
Feedback from past recipients confirms that having the right equipment and school uniform gives children a vital confidence boost when they walk in the school gate at the start of the school year.
A Community Foundation in Western Australia that helped distribute previous Back to School vouchers to local schools said the program immensely improved student health and wellbeing. Having the “gear” like their peers enabled these young people to fit in and participate fully.
In another example, a student in Victoria who displayed a talent for cross country running used the voucher to replace his old shoes, which were barely holding together. He went on to perform a personal best in his event and moved up to the next level. The school remarked that this did wonders for his self-esteem which transferred into other curriculum areas.