Rural Education Program (REP)

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Calvert-Jones
SandBMyer
Tim Fairfax

The drought of the 2000's was one of the worst on record, causing devastation of agricultural production and the social and economic heart of rural communities.

The Rural Education Program (REP) was established in 2002 as a short-term response to concerns about the effect of drought on children living in rural and remote areas of Australia.

The effects of the drought on education are many and complex, but at the ground level they were manifest in the reduced capacity of local people to financially support their schools and kindergartens, which saw important educational activities such as camps and excursions jeopardised because of their reliance on fundraising.

Additional programs in the arts, sports and science that enriched the limited curriculae that rural schools can offer were also restricted as they relied on locally raised funds.

The program ran for eight years (2002 - 2010) and it funded 385projects across Australia to the value of $2.839 million. It support groups, kindergartens, universities and national organisations and did far more than simply make grants.

The program achieved lasting change by lobbying governments on rural education issues; initiating and supporting research; hosting a conference on rural and remote education and supporting the establishment of a Chair in Rural Education and Communities by The Myer Foundation.

REP concluded on 30 June 2011 having served its original purpose and leaving a legacy of increased public interest in, and support for, rural education.

Each of the donors has now established their own family Foundations that continue to support rural education. Additionally, a number of other Australian philanthropic Foundations have taken up rural education as a focus as a result of REP began.

The success of this program has shaped FRRR's subsequent education programs, including REAPing Rewards.

This program was also included among the Top 50 Philanthropic Grants of all time, which were announced in 2013.

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