FRRR features prominently in list of Top 50 philanthropic gifts of all time

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) has featured twice in a list of Australia’s Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts of all time, which were announced earlier today at a ceremony in Melbourne.

The Foundation’s establishment and the Rural Education Program, which FRRR administered for nearly 10 years, were both included in the Top 50 Gift list.

Speaking at the ceremony, FRRR’s CEO, Alexandra Gartmann, said the list highlights the enormous difference that philanthropy of any scale can make to the lives of others. “The grants we provide range between $150 and $20,000. Even the smallest amount is catalytic and helps a local group implement a project that in turn enables a more sustainable, vibrant rural community. Philanthropy is a critical partner for rural, regional and remote communities, and we are delighted that this list highlights FRRR’s impact.”

The Foundation was established in 2000 by the Federal Government and Sidney Myer Fund to support the renewal of rural and regional communities in Australia through partnerships with the private sector, philanthropy and governments. The government contributed $10 million for a corpus, and the Sidney Myer Fund donated the first $1 million for grant making.

The organisation has a unique tax structure which is legislated to enable philanthropic funds to flow to rural, regional and remote charitable projects – areas that would traditionally find it difficult to attract support.

Building on the initial contribution and with support from many other philanthropic organisations, corporations and individuals, FRRR has been able to distribute more than $35 million in small to medium grants. In addition, the organisation has undertaken significant capacity building programs and facilitated fund-raising in local communities, by lending its DGR status.

FRRR’s Chairman, Rt. Hon Ian Sinclair, AC, says that the Foundation is honoured to be included in the list because it highlights the importance of philanthropy and partnerships in building stronger rural, regional and remote communities.

“The foresight of people like Mr Baillieu Myer AC and the Hon. John Anderson AO in establishing the Foundation has certainly been proven right: rural, regional and remote Australia continues to face challenges, but through FRRR’s grants many communities have been able to implement innovative solutions to local issues.

“I particularly want to acknowledge the generous support of the nearly 60 donors who regularly contribute to our programs, and the passionate commitment of local community leaders. Without either group, nothing would be possible,” Mr Sinclair said.

Donors to the REP Program: Sarah & Bailleu Myer, Gina & Tim Fairfax, and Janet & John Calvert-Jones.

The Rural Education Project (REP), which FRRR administered for nearly 10 years, was also included in the list. REP was an initiative of Baillieu & Sarah Myer, John & Janet Calvert-Jones and Tim & Gina Fairfax (right). In 2003, they collectively contributed $500,000 towards a program to ensure that quality education remained accessible to children in rural and remote communities, regardless of climatic and economic conditions. It came from their shared concern for children in these areas whose access to education was threatened by drought.

Initially intended to run for only two years, the REP continued until 2011 because of the ongoing severity of the drought. In total, it made grants of $2.839 million to 385 schools, 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.

FRRR’s CEO, Alexandra Gartmann, says that REP is a great example of how private philanthropy supported by FRRR, can address a serious social issue involving a voiceless minority.

“Rural and remote children are a small population and although they have their champions, they have struggled to make their special needs known to the rest of the country. The REP program not only helped people in need, but it has also had a lasting impact, as have so many other gifts, donations and bequests,” Ms Gartmann said. “It also informed and helped to shape FRRR’s current education programs: REAPing Rewards and Back to School.”

To read the full list, visit WATCH this film, which showcases the lasting impact of REP on the community of Deniliquin,

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