In September this year, Teach For Australia launched the Alumni Community Fund (ACF) to provide financial grants to the TFA community for initiatives driven by our Alumni, Associates and Teach to Lead Fellows. The funds were raised by the Alumni Gala Committee with proceeds from the 2016 Alumni Gala. Teach For Australia provided assistance by supporting the Alumni Grants Committee with the distribution of the funds. Grant recipients were announced in November 2017.
Every year, about ten St. Joseph’s Catholic College students in Years 11 travel from Katherine in the Northern Territory to Melbourne for one week. The aim is for “students to experience the urban environment, and to attend university and TAFE provider tours, careers expos and other events being held at the time, such as arts and cultural, STEM and teambuilding activities,” Elena explains.
“Most of the students are from rural backgrounds; some coming from Aboriginal communities hundreds of kilometres from Katherine or from remote cattle stations, so the opportunity to visit an environment like Melbourne and travel in a group of young people is very unique,” she says. But students must each raise their own money for bus transport, flights, accommodation, food and activities, while balancing senior school academic requirements with sport, part-time work and family commitments. Many students cannot attend due to this financial commitment.
Elena will be using the money granted by the Alumni Community Fund to alleviate some of the pressure on her students by contributing to their accommodation in Melbourne. “Fundraising in a small school, in a small town, has proven difficult, with most attempts requiring weeks of organisation but only raising a few hundred dollars, where $12,000 is generally required for the whole project.”
An itinerary for a recent trip lists a tour of Charles Darwin University in Darwin, a meeting with Flinders Indigenous representatives in Darwin, a tour of University of Melbourne, a visit to the VCE Top Designs exhibition and Urban Seed program, a tour of the Trade Skills Centre at RMIT, attendance at The Age Careers Expo, as well as stops at the Melbourne Museum, Melbourne Zoo, theatre, and ice skating.
“Students always come back from the trip raving about what they experienced and how it changed their perspective on what is possible for their futures,” Elena says. “This opportunity truly contributes to empowering otherwise quite isolated students to choose a life that is meaningful for them.”