The Small Grants Program helps to fill a big gap

The Small Grants Program helps to fill a big gap

CCI Giving supports a number of organisations that may not attract government funding but nevertheless fulfil an important need in the community for individuals or groups facing challenges in daily life. CCI Giving Director Jeremy Yipp says the Small Grants Program helps them to continue their valuable work.

“CCI Giving’s Small Grants program has provided 36 small grants totalling over $275,000 for activities assisting young people experiencing educational disadvantage, refugees and people seeking asylum, families affected by mental illness, and those affected by domestic violence. It’s an important element of CCI’s overall Give Back strategy.”

There have been 11 recipients of the Round 2 release of the program. The funds have gone towards supporting a range of social initiatives to help people facing hardship or disadvantage. One impressive and much-needed initiative is Mercy Connect Melbourne’s program of providing in-school mentoring and tutoring for students who are asylum seekers or refugees.

Kingsley Edwards is the organisation’s Donor Development Manager and he describes the valuable bond that students form with mentors as they settle into their learning environment.

“The in-school mentoring program provides students with mentors who sit in the class for at least half a day each week. The student knows they have someone who can help them if they don’t understand English,” he says.

“They build up a relationship of trust with a mentor, it also builds student self-esteem and confidence. Talking and encouragement helps students to become more involved in school and feel better about being in a new country.”

He explains that some students have never attended a school before.

“Usually, these students are newly-arrived in Australia and some have never been to school before. Some are from a war-torn country and many have been living in refugee camps. Students are usually anxious and many have language challenges. Many are also carrying post-traumatic stress.”

Most volunteers for the program have an educational background.

“Our mentors are retired or semi-retired teachers from all over Melbourne. They tend to be someone with some kind of educational background,” he says.

“Some are mums taking a break from teaching but have some time to be involved, and some mentors are university students who are keen to help.”

The Small Grants funding assisted Mercy Connect with training.

“The main use of the grant was for our volunteers and for their training process. We provide a one or two-day induction program and give updated training days during the year. This often involves having experts coming in to speak and give information about how mentors can be effective in supporting students. We also used the grant to reimburse travel expenses for some volunteers who are some distance away.”

Mentoring is a great benefit to teachers in a classroom because it supports their work in delivering lessons.

“It’s fantastic what a difference it makes to these students, having a mentor is phenomenal. Just having a person that they know who is there to support them specifically, to support their individual needs, makes a big difference to their learning.”

“Schools just don’t have the resources to meet this need so the grant has helped to fill this gap. Demand is high for volunteers. We have students from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. The mentoring program provides benefits for volunteers too. They find the role very rewarding.”

CCI Giving Director Jeremy Yipp is delighted by the gains made the Small Grant recipients.

“Mercy Connect Melbourne is actually expanding its program. They operate in both primary and secondary schools, in Catholic and Government schools, and have extended the program to families of students by offering adult literacy classes. It’s a fantastic achievement and they are on their way to providing even more support for the community.”

Applications for the next round of the CCI Giving Small Grants Program will open soon. Find out if you are eligible here, or subscribe to CCI Giving to stay up-to-date.