Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.
The CHANCES Scholarship Program, run by the Boroondara Cares Foundation, is all about providing a ‘hand up’, not a ‘hand out’.
The Boroondara Cares Foundation (BCF) is a charitable organisation created by the eight Rotary Clubs within the leafy borders of the local government area of Boroondara – located in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and including the areas of Kew, Balwyn, Camberwell and Hawthorn.
However, beneath the leafy street landscapes and affluence, Boroondara hides some serious community issues.
Amongst these issues, there are 17 neighbourhoods in Boroondara where the average income is below the poverty level; there are approximately 400 homeless people and an estimated 10,000 lonely and isolated people living in Boroondara; and some young families are struggling to cope with the pressures of raising children, resulting in these kids suffering low self-esteem and family violence.
To help address the issues of homelessness, social isolation, educational disadvantage, family violence and drug abuse, the BCF was formed in 2015 to tackle the issues of poverty, disadvantage and social issues in Boroondara.
Working out of the Accru Wealth Management office in Hawthorn East, Richard Addison AFP® is only too familiar with the disparity in wealth in the Boroondara area, but is also acutely aware of how difficult it is for not-for-profit organisations working in Boroondara to get funding and grants for their charitable work.
“Like most charitable organisations, BCF struggles to get grants and are usually turned down as soon as people read the word ‘Boroondara’, as it’s seen as being an affluent area,” Richard says.
CHANCES Scholarship Program
Richard was impressed by BCF’s CHANCES Scholarship Program, which is aimed at closing the gap on educational inequality and poverty for secondary and tertiary students, by providing educational scholarships to financially disadvantaged, but highly motivated and talented young people who live and/or study in Boroondara.
According to CHANCES Program manager, Helen Worladge, students living and studying in Boroondara who find educational inequality a strong barrier to achieving their educational dreams are often socially isolated, and because they live and/or study in an affluent area, often feel loneliness, suffer from lack of confidence, and can be affected by cultural barriers and social status.
“To qualify for a CHANCES Scholarship, families or individuals must be in receipt of a Centrelink Health Care Card, that is, receiving less than $34,000 per annum to receive a scholarship,” Helen says.
The CHANCES Program has been operating since 2007 and since then, has awarded over 900 scholarships, with 99 per cent of recipients having completed a degree or a vocational qualification. The program was even evaluated in 2017 by independent consultants, Think Impact, which determined that for every $1 invested in the program, between $12 and $17 of social and economic value was created to the students, their families and the wider community.
In fact, so impressed with the work BCF was doing with the CHANCES Scholarship Program that for the previous two years, Richard had endorsed BCF’s Future2 grant application.
Finally, in 2018, after his third endorsement, the judges also recognised the program’s outstanding achievements by awarding BCF a $10,000 grant for the CHANCES Scholarship Program.
“As a business, we have a long association with BCF extending back over the last 10 years,” Richard says. “I truly believe BCF makes a positive and discernible difference to people’s lives in the local area, so I was delighted that a grant was awarded to the CHANCES Scholarship Program.”
Tailoring the scholarship
According to Helen, the $10,000 Future2 grant will go towards providing scholarships to 10 talented but financially disadvantaged young people aged between 12 and 25, who attend state secondary schools and tertiary institutes in Boroondara, and whose family is in receipt of Centrelink income support.
“These scholarships will support recipients to stay in school, complete Year 12 and successfully transition to tertiary education. The impact of these scholarships is life changing and has intergenerational effects,” Helen says.
The unique aspect of the CHANCES Scholarship Program is that it enables recipients to tailor the scholarship to suit their individual needs. Applicants list the items they wish to purchase in their scholarship application. Items vary according to the skills and interests of the student and include enablers, such as uniforms, texts and MYKI (transport) cards, camps and excursions, music, art supplies and drama lessons.
“These funds not only meet the students’ material needs, they also reduce their level of anxiety about their inability to participate fully in the school curriculum,” Helen says. “A MYKI card, for example, not only enables them to travel to and from school, it also enables them to participate in cultural and social activities and reduce social isolation.”
Making a difference
Daizy Mann is one of many CHANCES scholarship recipients, who speaks glowingly of the program.
“CHANCES enabled me to do things that matter during high school. Helen, who manages CHANCES, went out of her way to help me and after assessing my application, she nominated me for Boroondara Young Citizen of the Year – an award I was surprised and humbled to be given. Shortly after, I was nominated to be on the board of a community publicly listed company,” Daizy says.
“I do think CHANCES and the people behind BCF had a large part to play in helping me unleash my talents and focus on things that mattered during a time where I had very little support and my family lived interstate. It was also the first time I truly understood what it means to be supported in a community.
“Nowadays, I manage Deakin University’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program – SPARK Deakin, where I have the opportunity to support young entrepreneurs.”
It’s another great success story of the CHANCES Scholarship Program.
Commenting on his involvement with BCF, Richards says it has been a good opportunity to support a local organisation that assists financially disadvantage youth in the local area.
“Through its grants program, Future2 is providing young Australians with some basic ‘confidential’ and ‘structured’ financial support to ensure they have the same opportunities as others in the community,” he says.
“And that’s the great thing about a Future2 grant, helping those who need a helping hand.”