Breaking ‘Back To School’ Records

Our Back To School program has had it’s most successful year to date providing an astounding 480 young people with education resources, text books and stationery to students and families experiencing financial difficulty.

Established in 1989, the program is aimed at removing the financial barriers to attending school as we believe every young person deserves the right to an education regardless of their economic circumstances.

2020 was a difficult year for us all as we witnessed a major increase in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic (20% increase on last year’s statistics). Primary school referral numbers were triple that of 2020 and students referred under the ‘special circumstances’ category soared by 28%. Many referrers indicated family violence, financial hardship and living with grandparents as reasons for needing support.

Student ages varied from as young as four to 19 years old and a wide range of cultural backgrounds were supported (over 55 nationalities, 30% of students being Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander).

We provided support to students in 134 different schools across Victoria with the top three schools requiring support being Collingwood College, Reservoir High School and Braybrook College.

Students came to us from 128 suburbs across 33 Local Government Areas. The top five LGAs were Brimbank, Darebin and Whittlesea.

Through our invaluable supporters we saved a staggering $72,000. In addition, 15 companies supported through providing free or discounted goods such as calculators, textbooks and stationery, eight bookshops were engaged providing discounts and we saw 28 schools donated nearly 560 boxes of texts. Without our financial supporters, school/organisation support and our wonderful volunteers we would have never been able to achieve the impressive outcomes we did.

Social media was hugely effective in increasing book donations to the program. The Back to School Coordinator engaged with several online groups to raise awareness and generate donations. This meant that the program had to purchase less new books, as we were successful in securing large donations of high quality through online communications and marketing.

One school commented: “You have been there for our families who are in crisis both financially and emotionally due to the pandemic that has gripped the world…All families are very grateful and our students asked me to personally thank you all.”

Another referring agency provided this feedback: “Through the Les Twentyman Foundation’s Back To School Program, we are able to access high quality school books, stationary and online resources for our young people. Last year, a young woman in our program who received all of her year 12 text books from the Back To School Program, successfully finished year 12 and was accepted into a Bachelor of Science at Latrobe University. She is one of many who have been able to go to school, with the same resources as her peers, thanks to the work of this crucial program.”

We would like to sincerely thank everyone who supported the Back To School Program 2020-21 including Millers Foundation, Randall Foundation, Neil and Christina Jenkins, Janet Kaye, Colliers, Tobin Brothers, Rob Speekl and Country Women’s Association (Williamstown). With your support, we look forward to achieving more remarkable results in the year ahead.