Rory, an employee of 2021 Community Grant recipient, Ability Works
Westpac Foundation has awarded $1.25 million in grants to over 100 local social enterprises and not-for-profits who are creating job opportunities and providing training and education to enhance employment readiness for people experiencing disadvantage.
It's estimated that over 8,000 individuals across the country who face barriers to mainstream employment will benefit from these grants, including people living with mental health challenges or a disability, those experiencing homelessness, youth at risk, refugees and people seeking asylum.
“These grants will help organisations continue to play a critical role in our local communities, providing direct employment services and support to those who need it most,” said Amy Lyden, Acting CEO Westpac Foundation.
Following its approach in 2020 at the peak of the pandemic, the Foundation is again investing the majority of its funding into existing community partners.
“We believe long lasting relationships give us greater opportunity to create impact together. Particularly at this time, when funding continuity is needed for organisations as they continue the transition to 'Covid-normal’,” said Lyden.
Funding will be awarded through Westpac Foundation’s Social Enterprise Grants and Community Grants programs:
- Social Enterprise Grants: $250,000 will be invested in three social enterprise partners, The Bread & Butter Project, Green Connect and Free to Feed. The grants will help support their existing plans for growth, which will see 144 new jobs and 180 employment pathways created over the next 12 months; and,
- Community Grants: $1 million will be awarded across 100 local not-for-profits and social enterprises who are helping people become job-ready through education, training and employment opportunities.
For 2021 Community Grant recipient Ability Works, this will be the fourth year the not-for-profit social enterprise has been supported by Westpac Foundation.
“This grant will allow us to support, train and provide new employment opportunities for 22 people living with a disability who need assistance with literacy skills, and provide them with new skills and a greater variety of work,” said Sue Boyce, CEO Ability Works.
In addition to funding, all grant recipients receive pro bono support and access to leadership development programs, legal support and financial capability training via Westpac’s Changemaker program.
For Ability Works, this non-financial support has been a great benefit, securing a new Board member and volunteers to help the business succeed.
“Julia Shtepa from Westpac joined us in 2019 as a Board Director,” said Boyd. “She was introduced to us through the Westpac Foundation Board Observership program. Her legal and IT expertise were critical when assessing IT proposals during our technology upgrade. She is also a strong support with governance of external IT contractors.
“Pre-Covid, we also had Westpac volunteers come and work at Ability Works during peak times. That has been very helpful as it saved us having to get casual labour at short notice and helped keep costs down.”