Communities stepping up in time of need

CCI Giving continues to provide vital support

CCI Giving recently approved grant recipients for Round 9 of its small grants program, Communities Taking Steps.

The increased demand facing grassroots charities is clearly evident by this latest grant round, the largest to date. Following a record number of enquiries and applications from grassroots entities, directors agreed to exceed the stated $150,000 budget, resulting in 25 organisations receiving grant funds this round.

Lauren Clair, Foundation Program Manager, understands the importance of programs like this for grassroots charities. “We are facing a cost-of-living crisis, with those most disadvantaged disproportionately impacted. This is reflected by the number of applications received from community and volunteer-led organisations, at the forefront of assistance.”

“Volunteers and small non-profits are the backbone of our communities. Their work impacts individuals and families, supports those most vulnerable, and overall, strengthens our communities.”

Four targeted cohorts benefit from these grants: refugees and people seeking asylum, those affected by domestic violence, families affected by mental illness, and young people experiencing educational disadvantage.

Initiatives supported are once again diverse. Several projects provide food and other essentials to disadvantaged communities facing amplified challenges due to cost-of-living pressures, while others provide emergency assistance to those fleeing dangerous home situations. There are also a number organisations providing vital support to refugees and asylum seekers, be it through driver training, pre-employment programs, or education, while one entity in particular provides a welcoming community hub for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

While the next grant round is scheduled for early 2024, CCI Giving welcomes enquiries and conversation regarding relevant initiatives prior. Subscribe to our mailing list and stay informed about news and grants application dates.

Round 9 of the CCI Giving Small Grants program is supporting the following projects:

Piriwa Op Shop and Enterprise Hub 
Enterprise Partnerships WA is supporting The Piriwa Placemaking project, a collaborative community project for First Nations women living in the remote town of Balgo, in the Kimberley Western Australia. This project will see the development of a community-led social enterprise, designed to keep culture strong and foster well-being, through a series of arts-based workshops. CCI Giving is supporting the creation of video stories and the art mural installation.

Watering System for a Mount Martha Farm
The Food for Change Foundation aims to alleviate food inequality through growing nutritious fruit and vegetables on farms, and donating this produce to food relief agencies. A farm at The Briars in Mount Martha opened in 2021 on donated council land. This successful CCI Giving grant will assist the installation of a much-needed watering system for an additional 96 plant beds to expand growing capacity.

Mums Cooking Together Project
Foothills Community Care’s Mum’s Cooking Together Project will bring together women with a shared experience of domestic and family violence. Women will meet fortnightly to cook in a commercial kitchen, alongside the guidance of a chef, in a warm, safe and nurturing environment. All ingredients will be provided, women are able to take home meals they have cooked together, and any excess will be delivered to other women in need of some extra support. For many women, this is a soft entry into further support through their other programs.

Mentoring for Refugee and Asylum Seeker students
Mercy Connect recruits, trains, and supports volunteers with educational backgrounds, to assist refugee and asylum seeker students overcome barriers to education because of language, socio-cultural, and economic challenges during the critical time of settlement in Australia. Volunteers mentor students with regular in-class support that builds skills for dealing with the challenges of mainstream schooling. It also helps integration with the wider community. Learning support nurtures wellbeing and self-esteem and gives focused help for literacy and numeracy. This grant will assist Mercy Works with their Melbourne based program.

Urgent requests for people fleeing domestic violence
Friends with Dignity support victims of domestic violence referred to by external agencies (i.e. social workers). They have recently experienced a significant increase in demand for their Urgent Request program, which provides assistance by way of vital household items and other needs. Families have typically fled from a dangerous situation, with only a few belongings stashed in a plastic bag. Items most commonly requested include kitchen, bathroom and bedroom packs.

Welcome Women's Group
This successful grant will assist St Mary's House of Welcome establish The Welcome Women’s project, a weekly group supporting and empowering women who have experienced violence. The group will create a safe community for women who have suffered violence to come together, build a strong support network, and develop a range of skills to help improve their quality of life through increased security, self-esteem and support.

Sewing and conversation group for refugee women
This grant supports CatholicCare Victoria empower refugee women from Geelong and surrounds. For many participants, this weekly sewing and conversation group is a first step in their journey to meaningful education and employment. Up to 20 women from refugee or asylum seeker backgrounds will benefit from attending this group, where they will spend time with others, using and improving their English language skills. Once familiar with the CatholicCare services, they will also be offered further opportunities for education and employment.

Financial Literacy Project for disadvantaged women
The Farm in Galong provides recovery focused, strength-based and person-centered care to women with backgrounds of alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse, domestic violence and homelessness. The successful CCI Giving grant enables the delivery of a financial literacy component as part of their overall program, helping prepare women to lead independent lives involving responsible care of their children who are currently under out-of-home care. Participants have limited exposure to solid financial role models and education, with many having significant debt through partner financial abuse, misuse of credit cards, drug use and gambling.

Community Connect expansion and sustainability research
Georges River Life Care runs Community Connect, a service that provides food aid as well as the opportunity for individuals and their families to build relationships with others in a safe environment, particularly those feeling vulnerable and isolated. This project aims to empower their community by researching a revised model that provides a range of options to access quality discounted groceries, regular case managed assistance and financial counselling that will lead to better outcomes.

Welcome Hub and Pantry for Displaced Ukrainians
Compass Community Care provides an open walk-in pantry with fresh fruit and veg, dairy and meat ( if available) and pantry staples for between 70 - 100 Ukrainian families per week who have come to Melbourne to escape the Ukraine war. The grant will assist in recommencing the Welcome Hub nights, seating up to 250 people (including a children's club), providing coffee and supper, information on living in Melbourne in Ukrainian or Russian language and offer a chance to socialise and connect with fellow Ukrainians who have experienced similar trauma.

Part 2 of Addressing Elder Abuse within the Deaf Community
John Pierce Centre is working with Seniors Rights Victoria to adapt and deliver a series of information sessions for the signing Deaf Community in Victoria - covering topics such as grandparents' rights; adult children living at home; caring for your assets; family agreements; gifts, loans and debts; advanced care planning. This project follows groundbreaking work with a previous grant to identify the knowledge gaps within the Deaf community in relation to their understanding of Elder Abuse and the development of basic printed and Auslan resources to prompt the Deaf community to seek help or support.

Learner Driver Support for Refugee Women
Neighbourhood Collective Australia, together with The Old Church Driving School, connects volunteers with refugee community members to practice driving and gain their Provisional license. This program runs on volunteer and in-kind support and occasional small donations. This successful grant will support 15 women from refugee backgrounds to undertake professional lessons prior to being matched to a volunteer and to have bilingual support available to study for their Learners test.

Pre-employment Support For Newly Arriving Refugees
The Free to Feed pre-employment program is delivered in partnership with Box Hill Institute over 8 weeks. The program empowers newly arrived refugees and people seeking asylum through culturally appropriate training on hospitality, food safety and sound communication to prepare them to enter the hospitality workforce in Melbourne. It also offers one-on-one light-touch casework support to connect participants to community and governmental services, as well as inviting its program participants to community events to create deeper connections with each other and the wider Australian community.

SisterWorks Commercial Kitchen Project
SisterWorks’ Commercial Kitchen Project will see the construction of a commercial kitchen at their social enterprise café in Richmond. The kitchen will allow SisterWorks to provide in-house food handling and barista training, facilitating access to classes and increasing the Employment Pathways Program’s reach. It will also free up funding for other programs and provide the ‘Sister Entrepreneurs’ the ability to produce consumable products for sale.

Essential items for families escaping domestic violence
Dandelion Support Network provides families experiencing domestic violence somewhere safe for them and their children. CCI Giving grant funds will purchase basic yet essential items such as cots, children’s car seats and educational items, which are then provided to assist families leaving domestic violence circumstances.

All Of Us Festival - Celebrating Queensland Mental Health Week
Dr Edward Koch Foundation coordinates the ‘All of Us Festival’ during Queensland Mental Health Week in October. The festival aims to raise awareness in a very practical and accessible way of the importance of mental health and wellbeing by bringing the community together. The event includes a large expo of mental health agencies showcasing human and material resources to support mental health.

CatchUp and Connect Walks for vulnerable women
CCI Giving grant will be used by Women's Spirit Project (WSP) towards their free fortnightly Catchup and Connect Walks. Women attending are from across the WSP community who are keen to connect with other women for a walk and talk and strengthen their wellbeing, self-esteem, resilience through regular exercise, in nature. This activity is proven to develop strong community connections and support the women to work towards participating in the Frank to Schanck Walk Event held in November each year.

Food Pantry and Essential items for the vulnerable
Hayden's Helping Hands provide for the relief and alleviation of poverty, distress, and misfortune suffered by people experiencing homelessness, disadvantage, or fleeing domestic violence, through the distribution of food and supplies. This is done via a network of volunteers (particularly young people), raising youth awareness through educating them in social services via volunteering.  This relief is provided in the form of non-perishable food items to the homeless of Melbourne via weekly outreaches in the CBD and food parcels.

Youth Re-Engagement Project for Catholic Colleges
A previous CCI Giving grantee, Dismantle run successful BikeRescue outreach programs across metropolitan Perth and surrounds, including several Catholic schools. Funding restraints mean that several schools, having run the successful program previously, are limited to engaging the program again with a different cohort of students. This successful grant will help subsidise the program cost for such schools.

New blinds for Centre Accommodation
Saltbush Balnarring Beach provides holidays, retreats, and programs to families and carers from across Victoria. It helps those who find it difficult to access a break in the form of a holiday, recreational trip, or educational program. Factors that impede respite include financial stress, caring responsibilities, grief and loss, disability, illness, and other circumstances. The grant will be used to upgrade the houses with new blinds so that families and individuals experiencing hardship can access accommodation when they need time to rest.

Essential facility upgrade for Family Support Service
As the provider of an essential Family Support Program in Gippsland, Olivia's Place has grown rapidly in their support of the community. Having recently moved offices to accommodate current and future expansion, facilities are in urgent need of an upgrade to ensure the premises is fit purpose. This grant will help towards the soundproofing of consulting rooms, as part of a larger project of works.

Home visits program for vulnerable in Sydney
Maronites On Mission has been assisted this grant round for their Home Visits Program, supporting vulnerable people struggling both financially and mentally. Monthly food and essential item hampers help relieve individuals of minor financial burden, while also providing companionship in the home, helping alleviate isolation and loneliness.

Model MATES for Autistic
Autism Mates runs the Model MATES program, a fashion-industry event featuring young people with autism. Through a supported program, young people are given the confidence and opportunity to feel celebrated, rocking the catwalk alongside professional models. The Autistic participants are styled by a professional stylist, have their makeup and hair professionally done and they rock the runway complete with paparazzi. The program increases the visibility and presence of people on the autism spectrum in a positive manner and reinforces the need for inclusion.

All Saints of Africa Community Connection Gathering Space
Grant funding will contribute to a permanent outdoor shade shelter, providing much needed additional space for CatholicCare Parramatta’s All Saints of Africa Centre. The centre, established 10 years ago, supports the large African community of Blacktown, including many refugees and new migrants, through interaction, fellowship, networking, social inclusion, and educational opportunities.

St Lucy's School 
St Lucy's is an Independent Catholic Special School providing excellence in education for children with a wide range of disabilities. Due to varied intellectual, physical and sensory needs, St Lucy’s school provides individualised learning for each student in a classroom, meaning a teacher may be assisting students in the one class to learn the same skill or knowledge in 9 different ways. Grant funds will be used to purchase iPads, which will be installed with the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ACC) App, ensuring every student  has access to this vital technology.


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