Wednesday, 29 Jul 2009

29 July 2009 Schools First award applications now open
Exciting new awards initiative for schools

Applications are now open for a new and exciting awards initiative designed to reward excellence in school-community partnerships. Schools are invited to apply for a Schools First award that will help them build strong partnerships with groups and organisations in their local communities.

Research shows that strong school–community partnerships can make a positive contribution to young people’s educational outcomes, including improved skills, greater engagement with learning, more positive attitudes, and improved transitions into the workforce, further education or training.

‘This is an excellent initiative because it encourages schools to draw on the wide range of knowledge and skills that exist in their communities to improve outcomes for students,’ said Professor

Geoff Masters, CEO of ACER. ‘It also benefits communities by helping to develop resilient young people who can contribute positively to their communities.’ Schools can apply for two kinds of awards: Impact Awards, which are for schools that can demonstrate an excellent school–community partnership; and Seed Funding Awards, which are for those schools wanting to set up such a partnership.

There are 68 Impact Awards worth $50,000 each and 20 Seed Funding Awards of $25,000 each. Winners of the local Impact Award could win an additional $50,000 as a state/territory winner. The national winner is eligible for an award of between $500,000 and $1m. These awards represent a substantial financial commitment to the development of high quality school–community partnerships.

Award applications opened on 1 July 2009 and close on 14 August 2009. The Awards will also be available in 2010 and 2011.

The Schools First initiative is the brainchild of two not-for-profit companies (the Australian Council for Educational Research and Foundation for Young Australians) and the National Australia Bank (NAB).

To find out more about Schools First and to download application forms, awards criteria, guidelines and Terms and Conditions visit or call 1800 649 141. Articles describing ACER’s role in Schools First can be read in the Summer 2008-09 and Winter 2009 editions of Research Developments, available online at