28 June 2023

Powerchair football champions like Brandon are among recipients of $1 million-plus charity fund

| James Coleman
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Caroline and Brandon Stroud

Caroline and Brandon Stroud from Capital Region Muscular Dystrophy. Photo: James Coleman.

Three of Canberra’s biggest foundations have again joined forces to distribute more than $1 million to 57 local charities and community organisations, after a particularly tough year.

The Snow Foundation and John James Foundation have added money to the Chief Minister’s Charitable Fund, managed by Hands Across Canberra, an independent community foundation founded in 2010 by a group of local business leaders.

Under the banner of Canberra Foundations Collaborative, the objective is to help meet the “social, economic, cultural, educational, environmental and other needs” of the local community through the arm of charities.

For 2023, a record 80 per cent of the applicants will receive a slice of almost $1.3 million.

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These include 13 disability projects valued at $453,015, nine mental health and wellbeing projects valued at $218,715, six for healthcare valued at $309,200, and six projects addressing the disadvantaged valued at $111,300.

Hands Across Canberra CEO Peter Gordon said it’s especially welcome this year, as charities are suffering from the cost of living crisis too.

“We don’t do health projects or research or education or arts and sports – we care about organisations that work with vulnerable people,” he told Region.

“And we know, with the cost of living crisis that we’re all experiencing, the vulnerable people are the ones most affected. And therefore the demand on the organisations that we support is going up, but our ability to raise money for them is also limited because of people struggling. So our job is to use this opportunity to encourage people to give more and to give locally.”

Canberra Foundations Collaborative

Joe Roff from the John James Foundation, Georgina Byron from The Snow Foundation and Peter Gordon from Hands Across Canberra. Photo: James Coleman.

Mr Gordon is also “very proud” 21 of the successful applicants are multi-year projects for the first time.

“Feedback from last year highlighted the need for us to provide multi-year funding options to ease the challenges faced by organisations. Reflecting this feedback, a third of the approved applications this round are multi-year agreements.”

For instance, The One Box program, which provides free weekly boxes of fresh produce sourced from Australian farmers to disadvantaged families across seven Queanbeyan schools, will receive $50,000 this year and $25,000 over the next two years.

Also for the first time, the Aspen Foundation came to the table, formed by Aspen Medical founder Glenn Keys in 2010.

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Another of the successful applicants, Capital Region Muscular Dystrophy, has received $30,000 so more people with the genetic muscle-weakening disease don’t have to give up football.

The young Brandon Stroud was a regular at the Woden Valley Soccer Club when he was diagnosed with MD. It wasn’t until a visit to the hospital a number of years later and a mention of how he “really missed” playing that powerchair football came up.

This team, devised by Capital Football, is specifically for electric wheelchair users with conditions ranging from quadriplegia to cerebral palsy.

One game with them turned into work experience, and once Brandon had graduated Year 12, a job.

“Some players in my team have the same sort of conditions as me or similar conditions,” he told Region.

“So we’re able to catch up once a week and do training together.”

He and his team members recently attended a national game in Sydney and played against a number of teams from all over Australia.

Capital football

The funding will allow Capital Region Muscular Dystrophy to expand the powerchair football league. Photo: Capital Football.

“It’s been invaluable for him,” Brandon’s mother Caroline Stroud said.

“It’s really given him a sense of purpose. And he’s hoping to be on the Australian team one day.”

Capital Region Muscular Dystrophy will use the funds to purchase four additional chairs, valued at $20,000 each, to expand the powerchair football league.

Other successful applicants include Indigenous support service Mental Health for Mob, Carers ACT, OzHarvest, Project Independence, Roundabout Canberra, Mill House Ventures, Cancer Wellness Centre at the University of Canberra, and Woden Community Service.

CEO of The Snow Foundation Georgina Byron said by working together as a group, the three foundations can reduce the administration burden and get more funding more quickly to the organisations that need it.

“The role of the collaboration is to provide a one-stop funding shop for the for-purpose sector in our region,” she said.

“And by offering multi-year agreements, we are enabling organisations to plan and implement long-term solutions, ultimately fostering sustainable change and greater social impact.”

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