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$5m gift to disadvantaged schools

A groundbreaking collaboration between some of Australia’s most highly-regarded business leaders and philanthropists will challenge the status quo in education by directing more than $5 million towards students in disadvantaged schools.

Led by David Gonski AC and in partnership with Schools Plus, the Pioneers in Philanthropy group will deliver significant financial support over five years to hundreds of schools in need.  

The Pioneers in Philanthropy are:

  • David Gonski AC and Orli Wargon OAM
  • John B Fairfax AO and Nick Fairfax
  • John Grill AO and Rosie Williams
  • Angus and Sarah James
  • Roger Massy-Greene
  • Kerry Stokes AC
  • the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, represented by CEO Ian Narev

Their visionary alliance is founded on a belief that all Australian children deserve access to a great education, regardless of their family background or location. However, disadvantage remains one of the most significant factors in student achievement in Australia.

Mr Gonski said the Pioneers’ commitment served two purposes: to drive greater understanding of the impact disadvantage has on education outcomes, and to take concrete action that would benefit thousands of students, their teachers and their school communities.

Philanthropy could play a critical role in addressing education inequality by supporting targeted programs in particular schools or regions not funded by government, he said.

“We firmly believe that students from a disadvantaged background are no less talented or able than students whose circumstances have provided them with more opportunities,” Mr Gonski said.

“With the right support, these children are just as capable of achieving magnificent things. We owe it to them to create the environment that enables them to thrive so that in turn, Australia as a nation can thrive.”

The Pioneers’ total support of $5.25 million over five years will:

  • bring to life approximately 75 initiatives in clusters of disadvantaged schools
  • recognise and reward great educators through the establishment of a new national Teaching Awards and fellowship program, in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank

The Chairman of Schools Plus, Angus James, said the Pioneers’ commitment would boost the new charity’s capacity to drive change in the education system.

“We applaud the Pioneers’ vision of a more equitable education system, and thank them for their generous gift,” Mr James said.

“It is simply unacceptable that students from disadvantaged backgrounds fall behind their peers at every step of their education. For many students, the Pioneers’ support will create opportunities that will change the direction of their lives.”

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Why We’re Needed

Research shows that disadvantage is a huge factor in student performance. But we don’t believe a postcode or background should determine a student’s future.

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