Program area:
Educational Equity


Investing in an educational outcome for vulnerable students

7 Sep 2020

A ground-breaking impact investment model will sit behind Melbourne City Mission (MCM)’s vision to help vulnerable young people complete secondary education, with a reduction in emergency department presentations as a key measurement of success. 

The Ross Trust has entered into its third impact investment, with a commitment of $500,000 to the MCM Living Learning Program, which puts mental health and wellbeing at the centre of the school experience. 

Building on the success of the MCM’s Hester Hornbrook Academy, Living Learning will support 15-25-year old young people who have complex barriers to completing secondary school, having often disengaged from the mainstream education system with mental health challenges. 

The focus on these students is very deliberate, given the life-long adverse impacts which can flow from incomplete schooling – the personal impacts and the impact on government health, justice and homelessness services. 

Living Learning (delivered on three campuses in Sunshine, the CBD and Prahran) will target high-needs, hard-to-reach students and bring a flexible approach to learning with a wholistic three-year model where they are supported to transition to a positive pathway of their choice, which may be further education or employment. The school week will feature access to youth workers, specialist education support, a wellbeing and physical program. 

For the participants in Living Learning, one of the key social outcomes is about managing their mental health effectively and staying well. 

One of the more unique aspects of this program is how success will be measured. With knowledge of the earlier Hester Hornbrook Academy students, MCM understood that in the year prior to starting the program, those students were six times as likely to present to emergency departments as the peers in their age group across Victoria. 

This program is being backed by the Victorian Government as a Partnership Addressing Disadvantage (PAD) – one of two selected from a statewide tender process – which are initiatives “to reduce deep-seated disadvantage and provide demonstrably better outcomes for vulnerable individuals in Victoria”. The government will provide ongoing funding and support. 

For the MCM, this program is helping bring to life their mission of every young person having the opportunity to complete a secondary education. 

Ross Trust CEO, Sarah Hardy, says this strong alignment with the Trust’s vision and educational equity theory of change, made it clear for the Trustees that this was a program they should get behind. 

“We’re also really pleased to be in the position where we can work with other funders and explore unique financial models that extend the reach of such valuable programs, which address genuine needs for young people who are trying to overcome barriers to compete their education. 

“These kinds of collaborative approaches are important to us and allow for the not for profit and philanthropy sectors to work with government on some challenging social issues. 

“MCM has been extremely thorough and has the runs on the board in terms of its long-term extensive commitment to a fair and just communities in Victoria. We’re thrilled to be involved with this program.”

Living Learning is also aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which inform the Ross Trust’s Education Equity funding priority. 

You can read more about Living Learing, including details of the launch by Victorian Minister for Youth, Ros Spence.

Women's Property Initiatives

Women’s Property Initiatives (WPI) is a not for profit organisation that exists to help at risk women and their children to have access to more affordable and stable housing. 

In the early days of WPI, a social enterprise business, the Property Initiatives Real Estate Agency Pty Ltd, was established to produce a sustainable income stream to expand the property portfolio and in 2015 the Ross Trust joined other philanthropic organisations making an impact investment of $200,000 to purchase a rent roll of 50 properties within eight kms of the Melbourne CBD. 

This was the first impact investment entered into by the Ross Trust.