Bulk uniform grants programme a success
The JR McKenzie Youth Education Fund is an offshoot of the JR McKenzie Trust that pays specifically for school uniforms, including shoes and, occasionally, glasses. Our club has developed relationships with a few low decile schools and gives them a grant each year to allocate for uniform for needy students.
This relatively recent initiative to move towards a bulk funding model for distributing the grants for the JR McKenzie Youth Education is proving immensely successful. Not only is the model ensuring that the maximum amount of funding available is paid out each year, the grants are benefitting far more students than the individual funding model could reach.
Club member Grant Uridge is the JR McKenzie Youth Education Fund Regional Chair and National Trustee. Donna Dentice and Denise Church are the other two trustees who along with Grant assess each application from a school or individual for funding.
In the 2017-2018 year, Donna, Denise and Grant have continued to focus on moving to a school bulk funded model targeting schools of decile 3 and lower. To date 16 schools have accepted this model. The schools can apply twice per year and we cap the amount per school based on the school roll. The schools build an internal distribution model that suits their needs. This has ranged from the provision of rain coats on rotation to school shoes. Each school reports back on how the funds were spent and how this has helped in their area.
The immense value that these bulk grants hold for the schools are reflected in comments recently received in the accountability reports that the schools provide.
One Guidance Counsellor wrote: “I hope that my preparation of the report without prompting reflects just how important and valuable receiving the grant is for our students. I can not emphasise enough how much pressure it takes off me to be able to provide uniform to students who need it without having to scramble or beg for funding. The students see it as a precious gift and look after their uniform items so well and will often pass them on to younger family members when they come through to school.”
A school advised that they established a “loan library” of warm school jackets with their $3500 grant in 2018. These jackets were “leant” to the 35 neediest students, many of which are in severe poverty. It was reported that the school noticed a rise in attendance of these students over the colder months, along with a pride in the fact that they were wearing the new school jacket. The students are allowed to retain the jackets for as long as they need them, and are asked to return them to the school when they are no longer required.
Another school reported that “the school community continue to benefit from receiving the grant because it has meant that any financial barriers to having correct uniform are eliminated. New and existing students who are often vulnerable, who may have experience various barriers to their education do not have to worry about their uniform”
In the 2017-2018 year, 13 bulk grants to totalling $35,000 were paid to schools directly to run the bulk-funding programme. In addition, 99 individual applications were approved, with a value of $23,221 bringing the total amount paid out in the 2017-2018 year to nearly $60,000.