How to help some schoolkids start the year off right

How to help some schoolkids start the year off right

The Smith Family – the tools for lifelong learning

Through its Learning For Life sponsorship program, The Smith Family provides educational support to almost 60,000 children and young people each year. And due to demand, the organisation is planning to reach 100,000 students by 2027.

The Learning for Life program begins in primary school and can support a student all the way through to tertiary level in three main ways. It gives financial assistance for school essentials like uniforms and textbooks; provides access to additional learning and mentoring programs before and after school; and offers personal support from a Smith Family team member to help students stay motivated at school.

“Students on the Learning for Life program can really benefit from our range of evidence-based literacy, numeracy and mentoring programs, tailored for their life stage,” Taylor says.

“These include student2student, which is proven to help primary school-aged children improve their reading skills. We pair them with an older ‘reading buddy,’ and then there are our after-school Learning Clubs, where primary or secondary students can participate in activities to develop their social and academic skills.”

“We regularly track our programs, and our evaluations confirm they’re working. Students on Learning for Life are more likely to attend school and do well in their studies, with five out of six going on to further education, training, or work within a year of completing Year 12,” Taylor notes.

Eat Up – healthy school lunches

What began a decade ago as a grassroots operation in Shepparton, rural Victoria, has expanded to provide healthy lunches for school children right across the country. Eat Up volunteers now make and distribute thousands of sandwiches and snacks to schools each day.

They’re addressing a growing need – with more than 750,000 households in NSW and ACT alone struggling to put food on the table each day, hundreds of thousands of children are going hungry. In fact, around 20 per cent of Australian children have experienced food insecurity, according to a report from Foodbank.

As well as financial donations, Eat Up also welcomes volunteers to get involved in helping make lunches. This can be done as an individual, family or even business organisation.

Books in Homes – inspiring children to read

Learning how to read is an important milestone in any child’s development but it can be more challenging for children who grow up without ready access to books. To address this gap, Books in Homes has distributed 2.8 million new books to children via almost 800 childcare centres, preschools and primary schools across the country since 2001.

The charity works with Scholastic Australia and other publishers, offering a catalogue of interesting and engaging age-appropriate reads to children living in remote, disadvantaged, and low socioeconomic circumstances. Children participating in the program are encouraged to pick the titles they’d like to add to their own home libraries, inspiring them to enjoy family reading at home.

The Smith Family believes that education is one of the most powerful change agents. It supports the education of children and young people experiencing disadvantage, empowering them to change their futures. The Smith Family’s Back to School Appeal is seeking sponsors for 6,230 children who are urgently in need of support this term. To sponsor a child or find out more, visit

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