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.

Disadvantage at every stage

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 enrollments 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 127,424 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

  • 90% of surveyed parents indicated that they read more with their child through our Let's Read program.

  • 95% of students improved their reading. 90% of students reported that they enjoy reading more now through our student2student reading program.

  • 88% of students said Learning Clubs helped them try harder at school.

  • 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. 91% of participating students agreed that chatting with their mentor helped them understand more about reaching their career goals. 88% 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.

Last year, of every $1 raised from our corporate partners, individual supporters, trusts and foundations, university partners, government partnerships and bequests, 82 cents was spent on our programs to help disadvantaged children participate fully in their education.

For more detailed information please visit our finances.

For every $1 donated, 82 cents helps disadvantaged kids through our programs

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