The Readings Foundation grant recipients for 2020

The Readings Foundation has announced $135,142 worth of grants to support a range of projects and organisations within Victoria in 2020.

The Readings Foundation assists Victorian organisations that support the development of literacy, community integration and the arts. Readings donates 10% of its overall profit to the Foundation each year, and the kind donations from Readings' customers make a crucial contribution. This year, the Readings Foundation has predominantly chosen to allocate funding to organisations that are delivering strong literacy and education support to the most disadvantaged people in our community.

The Readings Foundation received 37 applications this year and is pleased to award grants to the following 13 organisation.

Banksia Gardens Community Service - $10,000

The Readings Foundation is thrilled to continue its support for the fourth year in a row for the highly successful Banksia Gardens Aiming High VCE Support Program. This program is for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Broadmeadows and Craigieburn regions, including young people who are refugees or seeking asylum. Aiming High provides weekly after-school study sessions to assist aspirational students completing years 11 and 12 (VCE) to overcome barriers to achieve their best at school. In addition to the weekly academic support, Aiming High provides a suite of workshops, guest speakers and excursions to engage, inspire and expand the horizons of our students. Aiming High has a stellar reputation in the local school communities as a program that helps young people achieve in their VCE years, and that supports students to develop a range of skills to help them progress in life beyond.

Carringbush Adult Education - $10,000

Carringbush Adult Education is the sole provider of free literacy tutoring to adults in Richmond and Collingwood. Literacy for Life is a project that will provide one-on-one tutoring to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, addressing the unique learning needs of individuals who have experienced disrupted schooling or have fallen through the cracks of the education system. Tutors will respond to specific needs identified by the learners such as: literacy related to supporting their children’s learning; literacy to aid employment; literacy to help with accessing services and navigating through Australia and its systems (e.g. reading road signs, bills, notices). Tutors will use texts from real-life contexts to support learners to develop their foundation literacy skills.

Church of All Nations - $10,000

The Church of All Nations (CAN) Family Learning Program was established in 2007 to provide a service to families from the Carlton housing estates. The Family Learning Program caters for primary and secondary students and their families. Many of the families are first or second generation Australians from the Horn of Africa. The program provides a supportive out-of-school learning environment where students can participate in activities that help them to develop their academic skills. It works in partnership with families who contribute to the program and are encouraged to attend and be part of learning activities for the younger children. It aims to support the work of local schools to ensure that students attain good levels of numeracy and literacy.

Farnham Street Neighbourhood Learning Centre - $10,000

Farnham Street Neighbourhood Learning Centre has been operating since 1979 (formerly Flemington Neighbourhood House) and started running Adult Literacy programs in 1983. The Adult Migrant English program started in 1987 with Language and Literacy classes funded through Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE). The ‘Valiant Volunteers’ Project will focus on recruiting volunteers and matching them with very low-level English students in order to improve their spoken and written English. The volunteers will provide support both on a one-on-one basis as well as support for teachers in the classroom.

Fitzroy Learning Network - $9,347

Fitzroy Learning Network (FLN) has identified the need for a curriculum which will improve the digital skills of CALD (Culturally And Linguistically Diverse) adults in inner Melbourne, many of whom lack the skills necessary to access and navigate portals such as myGov, Centrelink, Medicare, banking websites and parental management apps for school. The beneficiaries of this project will be predominantly women from countries such as South Sudan, Vietnam, Somalia, Ethiopia and China. Most are migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who live in the DHS housing in Fitzroy and Collingwood. Having developed and trialled the curriculum FLN will then ‘package’ the curriculum and make it available for other organisations' use.

Maldon Athenaeum Library - $10,000

Tarrengower Chapters is a book club for women who are incarcerated at Tarrengower Women’s Prison, Maldon. This book club advances the status of women by recognizing their human rights and their role in shaping society. It provides disadvantaged women with an opportunity to engage in an affirming activity open to other members of society. In this book club women can express themselves safely, engage in debate, and enjoy full participation in a framework that promotes listening and questioning skills; tolerance of diverse opinions; and models positive communication strategies.

Mallee Family Care - $10,000

Mildura Primary School (MPS) and Mallee Family Care (MFC) formed a partnership to provide a learning support program outside of school hours that strengthens students from refugee backgrounds in their reading skills, confidence and academic achievement. MPS has over 60 students with a language background other than English (e.g. Afghani, Khmer, Kirundi, Samoan, Swahili, Tongan and Vietnamese). Students from refugee backgrounds have lower literacy levels than mainstream peers and lack reading skills to keep up with the curriculum. Teachers struggle to address these significant needs whilst many families from refugee backgrounds lack confidence in their ability to support their child’s literacy at home. This grant will help support MFC to assist vulnerable refugee students and will hopefully increase the students’ connection with the local community.

Paint the Town REaD - $10,000

Twenty percent of Australian children start school without basic literacy skills. These children are at a disadvantage, forever playing catch up and questioning their self-worth as their mates leap ahead with confidence. It has nothing to do with intelligence. Simply not experiencing the joy of hearing rhymes or being read to as a baby affects learning through life. Paint the Town REaD’s goal is to spread the love of reading and learning across Australia by encouraging communities to read with children from birth. This project will work to support the communities of Coleraine, Bealiba and Clayton South to set up their own early literacy movement that will engage their communities to read with their children right from birth.

The Smith Family - $10,000

The Readings Foundation has been a staunch supporter of the Smith Family for many years. Let’s Read is an evidence-based, early years literacy program that promotes reading to children aged 0-5 years living in disadvantaged communities. Let’s Read develops the ability of early years Community Professionals, parents and carers to share words, stories, games and books with young children, providing the tools for families and communities to boost children’s literacy and love of books. Let’s Read offers support to participants at four key points in each child’s early years of development – from 4 months, 12 months, 18 months and 3.5 years.

Western Chances c/- Footscray Hospital - $10,000

The Western Chances Scholarship Program awards new and renewal scholarships to talented and motivated young people experiencing financial disadvantage in Melbourne’s western suburbs. Now in its fifteenth year, the Program has impacted the lives of over 2,845 young people through the provision of scholarships, opportunities through the Links Program, and ongoing support as members of the Western Chances Alumni Community. Scholarships are tailored to meet each young person’s needs ranging in value from approximately $400 – $1,200 with the average scholarship valued at $1,000. Recipients use their scholarships to pay for essential items including textbooks, MYKI, specialist lessons and subject materials. Professionals working in schools nominate young people in need of support, and scholarships can be renewed annually if the need continues.

Wheeler Centre - $20,000

The Readings Foundation will continue to support the Wheeler Centre’s Hot Desk Fellowships for the ninth year in a row. This programme creates opportunities for twenty talented writers by enabling them to pursue their writing at a dedicated desk at the Wheeler Centre for ten weeks, supported by a $1,000 stipend for each writer. Over the years, many Hot Desk alumni have published works that have ended up on the Readings shelves.

Whitehorse Manningham Regional Library Corporation - $5,900

Beyond the direct literacy benefits, reading contributes positively to personal well-being, health, social and economic outcomes. Drawing on research demonstrating a direct relationship between books in the home environment and the level of education attained, the ‘Give the gift of Reading’ project will assist by providing gift bags of books and at-home story-time kits to families experiencing disadvantage. The library will also work with partner organisations to provide support mechanisms for families who are at risk or in crisis to reduce barriers to accessing library services.

Zoe Support Australia - $9,895

Zoe Support Australia is a not-for-profit, community-based organisation in Mildura established to provide benevolent relief to the social isolation, poverty, ill-health and distress of pregnant and new mothers aged 13-25 who lack support and resources. It helps young mothers to re-engage in education, offering a culture of ‘inspiring, connecting and learning’. The Readings Foundation is funding the purchase and installation of five computers in order for these women to access pre-accredited Learn Local courses, namely ‘Bridging Literacy and Numeracy’ and ‘Financial Literacy’, which will run weekly during school terms in 2020. These courses create a solid foundation for new mothers with family responsibilities to return to the learning environment, optimising successful outcomes for young mothers as they re-enter formal education.

Find out more about the Readings Foundation here.

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