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Education and philanthropy heavyweights appointed to Schools Plus Members’ Committee

Schools Plus is excited to announce the appointment of four Australian education and philanthropy leaders – Anthony Mackay AM, David Gonski AC, Jacinta Collins and Tim Fairfax AC – to its Members’ Committee.

Using their knowledge and expertise, the new Members will review the strategic direction of Schools Plus and help make sure future initiatives align with the charity’s goal to support long-term change in disadvantaged schools and the wider education system.

Schools Plus CEO Rosemary Conn said, “We are delighted to welcome Anthony, David, Jacinta and Tim to our Members’ Committee. Their extensive experience in education, business and not-for-profit worlds brings a fantastic and unique set of skills that will help Schools Plus continue to show how philanthropic support can make the greatest difference to students’ lives.”

Since Schools Plus began fundraising in 2015, the charity has connected with over 25% of the 4,600 disadvantaged schools in Australia through programs, workshops and inquiries; and added more than $14 million into the Australian school system, supporting over 600 projects to benefit 178,000 students, making it one of the fastest growing charities in the country.

“Our success to date has reset the bar on what growth is possible for organisations in our sector – a testament to our whole team’s efforts in consistently supporting schools to deliver life-changing projects. So, this fresh guidance from our new Members will allow us to push even further, creating more major partnerships with foundations and corporates that know the value of education,” said Rosemary.

However, this is not the four individuals’ first brush with Schools Plus.  

School Plus’ creation story would not be complete without David Gonski, one of Australia’s most highly regarded business leaders. He led the Review of Funding in Schooling (‘Gonski Review’) in 2011, which identified how schools could benefit from greater community support. The establishment of Schools Plus brought one of the Review’s recommendations to life. In 2016, this collaboration went a step further when David spearheaded the formation of the Pioneers in Philanthropy – a group of Australia’s most distinguished business leaders and philanthropists who, in partnership with Schools Plus, deliver significant financial support to hundreds of schools in high-needs communities in Australia. David is also the Chairman of the ANZ Banking Group, Chancellor of the University of New South Wales and led the 2018 Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Schools.

In her former role as Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations, Jacinta Collins was instrumental in getting Schools Plus up and running. Her tireless effort resulted in the Federal Parliament passing legislation that granted the charity unique Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR1) status. Since first entering parliament as a Senator for Victoria in 1995, Jacinta has held several leadership roles and served on the frontbench in the portfolios of school education, early childhood, workplace relations, mental health and ageing. She has always had a deep interest in the importance of providing quality school education and development opportunities for all children. Following her retirement from politics early this year, Jacinta took up the role of Executive Director at the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC).

Over the past three years, National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) CEO and President, Anthony Mackay, has been on the selection panel for the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards – an initiative of Schools Plus and the Commonwealth Bank that recognises and celebrates great teachers and school leaders. He is also Chair of the Australian Council for Educational Research, Deputy Chancellor Swinburne University, Melbourne and Deputy Chair of New Zealand’s Education Council. Anthony was recently CEO of the Centre for Strategic Education, the Inaugural Chair of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership and the Inaugural Deputy Chair of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. His policy advice and facilitation work focuses on strategic thinking for government bodies and agencies, think tanks and leadership teams in Australia, North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

One of the ways Schools Plus supports schools in need is through its Fair Education program – a program that provides grants of up to $250,000 for schools to deliver evidence-based projects that improve how families and the wider school communities engage in student learning. This year’s inaugural Queensland program would not be possible without the financial support from the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation (TFFF) and The Bryan Foundation (TBF). As Chairman and Founder of TFFF, Tim Fairfax is constantly finding new ways to make sure rural, remote and regional Queenslanders are afforded opportunities equal to their metropolitan counterparts. He is also a director of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF), which supports the Fair Education program in New South Wales. 

In addition to providing strategic support, the Members’ Committee is also responsible for formally appointing new directors to the Schools Plus Board.

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