Celebrating 10 years bridging the education gap through the ABCN Foundation 

The ABCN Foundation this year marks 10 years enabling exceptional students from low socio-economic backgrounds across Australia to achieve their full potential in the future world of work.

Michael Hawker
Mike Hawker AM, one of ABCN’s founding members.

Keeping youth off welfare and in sustainable employment is one of our most urgent societal needs, says ABCN Foundation Chair Mike Hawker AM, who is encouraging corporate Australia to take an active role to help solve this challenge.  

Hawker says business has an important social responsibility to mend the education gap.  

Almost one third of youth from the lowest socio-economic backgrounds in Australia do not complete Year 12  (Source: ACARA 2021), with 40 per cent of these students living in rural/regional/remote areas.  

With the incredible support from ABCN member companies, the ABCN Foundation supports and empowers students through our unique Accelerate program, which combines regular facilitated sessions, a two-day Leadership Summit, structured learning and development and corporate mentoring with financial support for educational expenses.  

The three-year Accelerate scholarships are awarded to exceptional students who will gain the most significant benefit and opportunity from receiving the support from ABCN member companies and other ABCN Foundation supporters.    

In May, 45 scholarship recipients will meet their volunteer mentors from ABCN’s corporate network and begin their scholarship program which aims to help students ‘be what they can see’. In 2023, the ABCN Foundation hopes to expand the scholarship program to 50 students.

From left, Prairiewood High School Principal Belinda Guidice, Accelerate Program Manager Louise Manka, Scholar Jacky, mentor William (from MinterEllison) and teacher Denise Smith.

Accelerate Program Manager Louise Manka travelled across Australia during February and March to onboard 45 new scholarship recipients. 

Of this year’s scholars:

  • 53% are from non-English speaking backgrounds
  • One in four live in rural or remote areas
  • 41% have suffered traumatic experiences.

Accelerate support comes at a critical time as students are in their final two years of high school and making decisions around the move from the school environment into training, education and employment. 

Evaluation of the program demonstrates that Scholars benefit from the development of soft skills, a network of peers and corporate contacts, increased awareness of career pathways and a healthy increase in confidence and resilience that prepares these inspiring young people to compete for opportunities on a level playing field and leads to fulfilling professional and personal lives. 

Many capable students such as Jweel, from Fairfield High School, have hopes for a bright future yet carry an invisible burden of significant personal, social, cultural or economic challenges.  

Six years ago Jweel and her family fled Syria during the war to find freedom and safety as refugees in Australia. How do you explain war to children? Imagine starting life over and learning a second language to participate in school? 

From left, Zaynab Sissiqi, former Head Teacher Student Engagement at Fairfield High School, Scholar Jweel and mentor Therese Dinh, from Hall & Wilcox.

Accelerate is a powerful, proven intervention point in a young person’s life. For every student accepted into the program, in 2022 an average of 96 percent go on to complete year 12, compared to 72.5% of the lowest socio-economic youth (ACARA 2021). 

We are looking for corporate workplaces to join us in raising funds for a cohort of 50 Accelerate Scholars in 2024.

Our Accelerate program relies solely on the generosity of supporters. Every year we receive hundreds of applications from deserving students all over Australia.  

Your support will go directly towards enabling a student to overcome significant circumstance and progress towards a productive, stable, sustainable life. 

The consistent theme in our scholarship applications year on year is the incredible hardship students experience, such as financial stress, precarious housing, lack of access to technology, fear for their future, language barriers and gender or other inequality. 

Want to help? 

Visit https://empowered-for-tomorrow-abcn-2023-eofy-appeal.raisely.com/ to make your EOFY donation. All donations over $2 will be issued with a tax receipt.

To arrange a workplace fundraiser or make a corporate donation, contact Linda Harkin via linda.harkin@abcn.com.au

Together with your generosity and support, we will enable another exceptional cohort of Accelerate Scholars be empowered for tomorrow.

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