Program area:


First grants awarded under new strategy

3 Sep 2019

The first grants to support organisations striving to achieve educational equity and biodiversity conservation in Victoria have been awarded by the Ross Trust.  

A variety of programs to support learning for children addressing entrenched disadvantage, an advocacy grant to protect threatened habitats and species in our National Parks, and a project to strengthen the voice of people harmed by gambling, are among the first under the banner of the new five-year strategy. 

In their first meeting since the introduction of the new Ross Trust Strategy, the Trustees committed more than $1 million worth of grants over the next three years, to benefit Victorians across the state.

The Trustees also supported a grant for the development of CEOs in the not for profit sector, particularly those working in disability, the Indigenous sector and rural and regional locations, to help maximise their impact. Also supported was a grant to the Alliance for Gambling Reform to train Champions for Change who will be part of a wider campaign for legislative reform in Victoria to prevent and reduce gambling harm. 

Ross Trust Smart Grants are open for applications at all times. A summary of the grants approved in August 2019 is below and we will bring you stories about each of these projects as they unfold.

Educational equity grants:

Stars Foundation
$150,000 over three years
(matched by the The William Buckland Foundation with $150,000 over three years) 

Project description: the grant will enable the expansion of the Stars Foundation school-based mentoring and engagement program for First Nations young women in Victoria.

The expansion of the program will help address entrenched social and economic disadvantage, and the significant inequity in provision of high-quality, evidence-based education programs. It will enable the Stars Foundation to establish its program in more schools in Victoria over the next three years. 

The aim is for improved attendance and retention, increased Year 12 completion and successful transitions to higher education, training and employment for Stars participants, resulting in improved education and health outcomes for more First Nations young women.

The Colman Foundation / Our Place
$300,000 over three years

Project description: ‘Establishing Our Place in Frankston North’ will address educational under-attainment for the purposes of benefiting children and families at Aldercourt and Mahogany Rise Primary Schools and Monterey Secondary College. The project will develop and manage a partnership between the three schools, early learning providers, local council, non-profits and philanthropic investors to provide essential services and support to children, students and families over the next 10 years. These will bring about improved education outcomes and lead to greater life success for young children and families in the Frankston North area.

Mackillop Family Services 
$120,000 over three years

Project description: ‘Overcoming educational disadvantage through therapeutic life story work’ will address the poor educational outcomes faced by children and young people living in Out of Home Care (OOHC residential and foster care) in the Greater Geelong area. The program will be tested and evaluated in this area due to the complexity of issues faced by young people in OOHC in the region, which are among the highest recorded.

Biodiversity conservation grants: 

Victorian National Parks Association

$223,000 over three yea

Project description: the ‘Protecting Victoria’s threatened habitats and species’ project will help better protect biodiversity in key regions of Victoria where threatened habitats and many species of threatened flora and fauna currently have no or very little protection on public or private land.
This project will allow VNPA to build its capacity by employing a new staff member to deliver a range of advocacy actions over the next three years, to:
• better protect critically endangered grassy ecosystems in and around Melbourne
• better protect woodlands of high conservation significance, especially in south west Victoria
• better protect threatened forests and woodlands across the state, including specific areas in eastern Victoria.

This is our first advocacy grant in biodiversity conservation.


Alliance for Gambling Reform Inc

$110,000 over three years

Project description: the ‘Champions for Change’ program will address gambling addiction disorder for the purposes of benefiting Victorians at risk of gambling harm.

People who've experienced the devastating harm caused by gambling will be trained and supported as Champions for Change in an extension of an existing pilot project. The expected result will be an additional 50 participants who will contribute to our campaign for legislative reform in Victoria to prevent and reduce gambling harm.

Kilfinan Australia
$150,000 over three years

Project description: ‘Maximising impact and coverage’ will help build Kilfinan Australia’s capacity to provide mentoring service to Victorian not for profit CEOs in sectors facing significant challenges. This will include, for example, making targeted approaches to CEOs working in the disability sector, which is managing the NDIS rollout, the Indigenous sector and CEOs working in rural and regional areas.

Through this project, Kilfinan aims to enhance NFP CEO leadership and governance capability leading to improved services to the various client populations and maximsing the return on government and philanthropic funding.