Our learning programs

Children cannot choose their circumstances.

For one in seven Australian children and young people growing up in poverty,1 it can limit their choices, opportunities and outcomes in life. Investing in the education of a disadvantaged child delivers long-term positive benefits for them, their family and potentially generations to come.

Steven, Julianna and Elizabeth are supported by The Smith Family

We support disadvantaged Australian children.

winter 2015

We support disadvantaged Australian children.

As Australia’s largest national education-oriented charity, we support disadvantaged Australian children to participate fully in their education, giving them the best chance at breaking the cycle of disadvantage. Our learning support and mentoring programs help children in need to fit in at school, keep up with their peers, and build aspirations for a better future for themselves.

Our work

Education has the power to change lives and break the cycle of disadvantage.

To improve a young person’s chances to create a better economic future for themselves, research tell us it’s important for children to be engaged in school and stay until Year 12 or equivalent. But sadly not every child has the same opportunities to achieve this. 

Our work focuses on Australian children in families and communities where we know it’s harder for them to fully participate in their education without some help.  

Our Learning for Life program provides emotional, practical and financial support to help disadvantaged children and young people with their education. Our support starts in the early years of learning development and continues through primary and high school. Our programs help build skills, knowledge, motivation, self-belief and a network of positive relationships with parents, peers and significant others. This support increases a young person’s likelihood of remaining engaged with school, completing Year 12 and developing realistic and informed study and career pathways for life beyond the school gate.

The most cost effective intervention begins early and continues throughout a child's education.


The most cost effective intervention begins early and continues throughout a child's education.

We provide targeted support that begins early in a child’s life and continues in a balanced long-term way throughout their first two decades. For the same overall investment, this approach is far more effective than concentrating support on a particular period of young people’s lives. This approach results in increases in high school graduation and university enrolments and decreases in welfare reliance and criminal convictions.

Our learning programs

Our impact and reach

Contributing to a better future for young Australians in need.

Education is a driver of real and powerful change that can break the cycle of disadvantage. Over the last year, thanks to the support of thousands of generous Australians, and the dedication of our staff and volunteers, we provided education-oriented learning and support programs to more than 151,497 disadvantaged Australian children and their families.


Working across Australia in 94 communities.

The Smith Family delivers our Learning for Life programs across 94 Australian communities, often out of the local school.

The communities have been identified as having higher concentrations of families living in economic disadvantage and are across all Australian states and territories.


In Financial Year 2016 your support had a big impact

Group of children around a table

In Financial Year 2016 your support had a big impact

  • 58% of child who participated in our Let's Count program could count a collection of at least 20 items, compared to 37% of children who did not participate.

  • 96% of students improved their reading. 83% of students reported that they enjoy reading more now through our student2student reading program.

  • 87% of students said Learning Clubs helped them do better at school. 86% agreed that going to a club taught them they can do well if they try harder.

  • Students from Years 9 to 11 were matched with trained mentors to guide and help them plan career and study paths through our online mentoring program iTrack. 75% of participating students agreed that chatting with their mentor helped them understand more about reaching their career goals. 81% agreed that their mentor helped them to be more positive about their future career and study options.

Funding efficiency

We are grateful for all the contributions we receive and always strive to make sure donations are directed to the area of greatest need, in the most efficient way possible.

Over the five years to June 2017, we spent an average of $4 in every $5 raised from individual supporters, corporate partners, universities, trusts and foundations, and bequests, as well as from VIEW Clubs of Australia and governments, on our Community Programs. The surplus from our Recycling Operation and other commercial activities ($1.9 million in 2016–17) helps offset our infrastructure costs, ensuring that funds raised can be spent as much as possible on programs supporting children and young people in need.

For more detailed information please visit our finances.

For every $1 donated, 80 cents helps disadvantaged kids through our programs

1 ACOSS & SPRC (2016) Poverty in Australia, 2016, Australian Council of Social Services, Sydney.