Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

Ourschool connects students and alumni

Ourschool is a not-for-profit organisation that believes past students have a lot to offer current students when it comes to driving equity in education and positive, systemic social impact. In fact, Ourschool’s vision is that every Australian public secondary school has a thriving alumni community whose members are easily able to give back to their old schools. Since 2019, Ourschool has worked with school staff and alumni to inspire and support current students through meaningful engagements in school-based alumni programs.

While principals generally see the value of alumni programs, limited funding in public school budgets makes it hard for school principals to invest resources into an alumni program’s establishment and growth. Chronic teacher and education support staff shortages at regional schools (thanks in large part to continued disruptions from COVID and teacher shortages) make it hard to plan alumni sessions and alumni engagement at schools.

But Ourschool is persisting and working hard to make it possible. They partner with FRRR, using a Not-for-Profit Fundraising Account to assist them to fundraise by offering tax deductibility for donations to help them deliver the program in more public secondary schools in rural and regional Victoria.

The funds are used to build program capacity and increase the number of regional schools receiving assistance from Ourschool. And it’s working, with the program operating in 14 regional schools, up from 10 in 2021. This involved employing more staff to deliver the services to the partner schools.

The reach is impressive — during FY22, 7,174 students were involved in 71 alumni career pathways or subject specific sessions, and 110 past students were involved in the sessions across the 14 schools in the Geelong and Ballarat regions alone.

As these alumni programs are “revolutionary” for public high schools, they require small steps, persistence, and a methodical approach to proving the worth of starting such a program. But even valued programs are faced with challenges.

One of Ourschool’s proposed solutions to this problem is the creation of a walkathon prototype school event to mobilise the fundraising capacity of a school’s community and its alumni to help fund and sustain each school’s alumni program. Ourschool is using some of the funds they’ve raised to develop an event resources and operations manual that will be packaged up for the partner schools to use and amend to run a high-quality, annual walkathon or other type of community-school event that raises funds to continue a school’s alumni program.

Check out this post to learn more about what Ourschool’s alumni activities look like.

NFPs receive more than $100,000 in grants, and new local facilitator

Five not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) in Ulladulla are sharing $109,577 in grants for capacity-building projects that will strengthen these groups, so they can continue to support their community.

Ongoing support for Ulladulla not-for-profits

Funded through FRRR’s Investing in Rural Community Futures (IRCF) program, in partnership with The Snow Foundation, these grants will help these local groups with funding for needs and opportunities prioritised through the Community Roadmap.

The Roadmap was developed through extensive, and ongoing, community consultation that charted shared priorities and concerns. These grants are for projects that respond to the issues identified through this process.

The successful grants include funding for recruiting, training and providing continued support for volunteers and staff; upgrading organisational systems and adopting new technologies; encourage networking within the sector and promoting their services within the community.

This includes Ulladulla Community Connect, who are hiring a facilitator to help run the IRCF program in Ulladulla. Stepping into this new role is Monique Carson who will work with local NFPs and help support the IRCF program’s long-term goals.

Monique comes to FRRR and the IRCF program with extensive experience as an active community member, having co-founded two volunteer-run community services. She is currently the president of the local Ulladulla Gymnastics Club.

“After two decades living in Sydney and Canberra, I’m thoroughly enjoying life back in a regional community and am keen to share my on-the-ground knowledge and experience with Ulladulla NFPs, and provide practical support so that they can be sustainable and thrive,” Ms Caron said.

IRCF is a five-year program designed to provide local NFPs with the tools and support they need to make lasting impacts in their areas of focus for the community. Alongside grants, FRRR is providing resource and support to help bring these plans to life.

Alli Mudford, FRRRs People Portfolio Lead, said that the IRCF program is now in its second year of helping local NFPs to respond to each community’s specific context and support their long-term sustainability.

“One of the great positives of this program is that local groups come together to share their strengths and ideas to gain a more sustainable foothold in community giving and support. It’s been fantastic to see so many organisations keen to get involved, to collaborate and increase their capacity as a sector to better support their communities,” Ms Mudford said.

“The five grants in Ulladulla will allow groups to strengthen their capacity and address critical issues, including homelessness. There is also a strong focus on improving communication and networking. This additional support will help them respond to acute demand from vulnerable members of the community, and relieve both staff and volunteers who are being stretched.

“We look forward to continuing to work with local community groups, supporting them as they implement their community roadmap,” Ms Mudford said.

The five grant recipients in Ulladulla are:

  • Independence Ulladulla Inc – Every Body Deserves to Flourish – Build marketing and communications platforms, systems and staff capacity of Independence Ulladulla to market, promote and deliver a wide range of services to people with a disability with a new brand strategy, website and staff training. $20,000
  • Milton Ulladulla Business Chamber Incorporated – Community Connect Southern Shoalhaven – Enhance the marketing and communications functions of Community Connect to develop the skills and strategic focus of their members through investments in their community database, training resources and networking events.  $22,010
  • Noahs Ark Centre Of Shoalhaven Inc – Destination Ulladulla – Strengthen Noahs Inclusion Services through the design and implementation of a recruitment and retention program that will build a sustainable local team of allied health professionals for their Ulladulla office. $30,000
  • Safe Waters Community Care Inc – Leadership Development and Establishing Operation of Safe Shelter – Recruitment of a shelter manager to establish the operational procedures for the Ulladulla shelter for homeless people. $30,000
  • Bawley Point and Kioloa Community Association – Keeping Communities Connected – Expand on recent investments in governance, technology and communications improvements to ease the compliance burden and better connect people in the Bawley Point, Kioloa and Termeil communities through the purchase of a laptop, accounting software and ongoing website and IT support. $7,567

In addition to Ulladulla, the IRCF South Coast program is also working in Batemans Bay and Nowra with the support of The Snow Foundation, and in Bay & Basin with the support of Bendigo Bank Community Enterprise Foundation, and in Junee, Leeton and Nambucca Valley in partnership with the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation.

For more information about the Investing in Rural Community Futures program visit –