Almost six years after businessman David Gonski identified the need for greater connections between philanthropists and schools, the organisation Schools Plus has channelled millions in donations to some of Australia’s neediest students, ABC News reports.
Schools Plus was set up in 2013 by eight not-for-profit organisations and Federal Government seed funding. It allowed donors to make tax-free donations to schools for the first time.
More than $2.5 million has so far been channelled to schools in need, and some of Australia’s most prominent business leaders are donating $5.25m over five years to the initiative.
One of the 150 schools that have so far been supported is Casula High School in Sydney’s west. The school has set up a coding factory in its library, where students build their own computers, program Lego robots and create lighting networks.
Maths teacher Raffaele Fantasia said the coding factory has transformed the school.
“The Casula Code Factory is a space in our school where students come to tinker, play, code, and learn the skills of the 21st century,” Mr Fantasia said.
“They love it. I love taking my kids up there. Every day I get into that place and I just think ‘I’m so lucky’,” he says.
Schools Plus CEO Rosemary Conn said the organisation had so far connected with 650 disadvantaged schools across Australia and planned to expand its reach in coming years.
“The response to setting up Schools Plus has been overwhelming,” Ms Conn said.
“We’ve had about 650 schools contact us since we’ve started. We’ve funded about 150 school projects so far.”
Prior to Schools Plus being established, donors were only able to donate to school infrastructure projects.
“Schools Plus was set up to address a big issue: that it was not tax-deductible to donate to schools beyond building or library funds,” Ms Conn said.
“It now means that organisations and individuals that before weren’t able to donate to schools have now opened up a new way that they can give.