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Our learning programs

Children cannot choose their circumstances

For one in six 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.


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.

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.

Disadvantage at every stage

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 206,836 disadvantaged Australian children and their families.

49,735 students sponsored
49,735 Australian students are helped through our Learning for Life sponsorships.
206,836 received support
206,836 disadvantaged children and their families received our support by participating in programs last year.
10,697-aboriginal and torres strait islander peoples
10,691 students receiving a Learning for Life sponsorship identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Working across Australia in 91 communities

The Smith Family delivers our Learning for Life programs across 91 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.

Learning for Life programs in 91 communities

In Financial Year 2019 our programs had a big impact

Group of children around a table

In Financial Year 2019 our programs 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 parents who participated in our Let's Read program agreed that they now have more ideas about how to read, talk and sing with their child.

  • 97% of students who participated in our student2student reading program improved their reading. 90% of students reported that they now find reading more enjoyable.

  • 87% of students said Learning Clubs helped them do better in class. 85% agreed that going to a club makes them try harder at school.

  • 85% of students who participated in our iTrack mentoring program agreed that their mentor helped them understand more about how they can reach their career goals. 89% agreed that their mentor helped them feel more confident about their future job, career and study options.

  • 79% of Certificate 1 Financial Services participants attained the Certificate 1 qualification. 85% reported that they are confident making financial decisions.

  • 87% of Saver Plus participants were saving the same amount or more, three to seven years after completing the program.

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 2018, an average of $3 in every $4 raised from individual supporters, corporate partners and governments has been available for spending on our Community Programs.

For more detailed information please visit our finances.

73% of funds raised is spent on programs

1 Poverty in Australia, 2018, ACOSS/UNSW Report.

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