Work Integration Social Enterprise Grant Program

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As part of our commitment to Decent Work for young people, we are proud to be joining with other Australian philanthropic organisations to create a new grant program, The Work Integration Social Enterprise (WISE) Grant. This program will provide up to $4 million in grants to social enterprises that exist to create jobs and employment pathways for Australians facing barriers to mainstream employment.

A social enterprise is a business, for good. VFFF recognise the important role that a specific type of social enterprise known as Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISE) play in creating employment opportunities for those experiencing barriers to the labour market. Young people in particular can benefit from the WISE model, which integrates real-world work settings with the development, skills, training or education that can effectively reduce barriers to work.

Typically as WISE mature they increase the proportion of income earned through trade, and decrease their dependence on philanthropic grants.  However, WISE face challenges on this growth journey due to the need to balance both their impact and business goals. Research indicates that the ‘social impact’ costs for WISE, such as wages of support staff, additional training, equipment for accessibility needs and necessary transport for employees, can account for up to 30% of the enterprise’s total running costs (PACE, 2022).

Early-stage social enterprises are often forced to navigate a complex maze of grant programs and funding opportunities, each with different criteria and processes to follow, to secure the funds they need for growth. This process is made even more challenging by the resource constrained environment these social enterprises operate in.

Lisa Oosen

To make it easier for WISE to access the philanthropic support they need, over the past nine months VFFF has worked alongside philanthropic peers to co-design the Work Integration Social Enterprise (WISE) Grant. This program seeks to address the barriers for early-stage social enterprises to access grant funding, whilst simultaneously strengthening philanthropic networks and sharing best practices.

We acknowledge the work of our peers in this pioneering grant program as we work with them to create a more accessible and streamlined approach to support early stage WISE: Westpac Foundation, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation (LMCF), Paul Ramsay Foundation (PRF), Macquarie Group Services Australia, English Family Foundation and Minderoo Foundation with MinterEllison providing valuable legal advice.

The WISE Grant will be managed by LMCF with the support of a steering committee of the founders and will be seeded with up to $4 million in initial funds. 

Expressions of Interest for this program will be open until Friday July 21 2023, accessible through the LMCF’s website.

VFFF encourage rural and regional WISE that focus on young people across NSW and QLD to apply.


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