Monday, 17 October 2016 20:50

Atlassian's $250k grant to 40K Foundation for education work

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Australia’s 40K Foundation social enterprise specialising in education technology has received a $250,000 support grant from the Atlassian Foundation, the philanthropic arm of team collaboration software company Atlassian.

Selected from an original shortlist of more than 100 international non-profits, 40K Foundation — part of the 40K Group — is one of four organisations selected to receive a $250,000 grant to accelerate the scaling of their reach, in addition to technical support from Atlassian’s team.

Atlassian’s $250,000 grant to 40K is part of a second round given to four non-profits. Prior to this, 40K Foundation was selected as one of seven non-profits to receive a $50,000 pilot grant from Atlassian, with the initial grant used to grow 40K’s operations in India, improve its technology platform, and conduct a feasibility study into expanding the initiative into Cambodia.

The 40K Foundation has built a technology platform that allows children in remote villages to be connected to education content from around the world, using electronic tablets and gamified learning, and combining existing technologies to create a learning experience suitable for an offline environment.

Clary Castrission, chief executive and founder, 40K Group, says the current programme allows children in Indian villages to learn English, and results from 40K’s programme show students learning in India possess an average of two-and-a-half years additional learning in literacy, and one additional year in speaking and listening skills compared to the current pace of government school students as proven among 550 children in 15 villages.

“To us, this second stage of funding from the Atlassian Foundation is validation that they share our belief that technology can play an integral part in providing quality education to those around the world who have traditionally lacked the funds or access, and that our solution is scalable," said Castrission.

“While the financial support we’ve received from the Atlassian Foundation has given us the bandwidth to accelerate our growth in India and now Cambodia, the technical support we’ve received from Atlassian’s staff has been equally valuable. Atlassian’s software architects were instrumental in improving our code, developing the roadmap to improve our technology systems, and also interviewing and hiring a full-time software architect to join the 40K Foundation.”

According to Castrission, corporate sponsorship and donations have a significant impact on 40K’s ability to scale the social enterprise quickly “in order to provide quality education to the millions of children around the world who currently lack access”.

“Through charging a very small fee to families for their children to participate in our learning programme, we have created a model which is sustainable, but financial support such as this grant from the Atlassian Foundation is what we need take the 40K programme global. We hope others will take Atlassian’s lead and support us further in this endeavour.”

Atlassian Programme Manager, Bernard Ferguson, who volunteered with 40K in India to help build the 40K PLUS learning environment, says, “My time in India with 40K, in particular meeting the children, facilitators, families, as well the 40K PLUS team, was a truly enlightening experience”.

“I remember asking each child’s mother what their dream at 40K PLUS was for their daughter or son and each one responded: ‘learning English will give my child choice of life’. I feel privileged to have played even the smallest part in helping 40K positively change the lives of these children.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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