Edified grants students the chance to make a difference

Edified grants students the chance to make a difference

If you want to change the future of education, put the power in the hands of your students

Article by Poppy Fox

Edited by Kara Golembeski

Like the rest of the world, students in Australia and New Zealand have been hard hit by coronavirus restrictions. It’s been particularly difficult for international students who have sustained significant mobility limitations, leaving them in an isolated and demoralized state.

But it’s not all bad. Those with a shared mission of prioritising student needs have been working diligently to restore hope and provide new opportunities.

One organisation has been delivering a unique grassroots approach that is kickstarting change in communities around the world.

Mark Pettitt has spent his career in international education, in part as Director of Marketing and Admissions at RMIT University in Melbourne. In the last 5 years he’s developed and founded Edified—a team of education experts who work with both education providers and services.

“Everything we do is focused on the student, you get the best results when you think like that,” Mark said, as he discussed how Edified was first created. There are many very real problems facing students today and by bringing service providers and universities together in a results-oriented environment, you can start to solve those problems. 

But how can you go one step further? How can you solve the long-term problems facing students around the world, rather than just the problems on your doorstep? 

Grants for change

Edified is a great example of a business that has made this step, introducing their ‘Energiser Grants’ to fund student-led projects that help improve global education. Mark explained, “Our team is motivated by the impact that they have, and the energiser grants were born out of trying to create an outlet for that passion,” giving the team a reason to feel proud when they turn up to work each day. 

These grants aren’t simply charitable donations, they work almost like startup investments—with Edified putting the money in & letting that ‘return’ on investment go back into the world. The grants give students with ideas a catalyst to take their skills and resources and create the biggest impact possible. 

Whilst there are themes that the grants should fall into, the scope is pretty limitless—the projects could help any community, no matter what scale, with the ultimate end goal of improving education. With nearly 100 student applicants last year, it’s becoming an increasingly competitive process. 

“It’s heartbreaking to see so many great ideas and know that only three will win the funding,” shared Mark, “but fantastic nonetheless to see the creativity that goes into each proposal.” 

mark edified

edified logo

Erika’s project

One of the 2020 project winners, Erika Roquero from the University of Melbourne, knew that the grant could go a long way in her home country of the Philippines. With her team, she plans to help students of the Dumagat tribe in the mountains of Antipolo, increasing access to education through the creation of a technology-enabled learning hub. 

“Teaching in Australia inspired me to come up with this idea, I realised how different the issues are in the Philippines—it’s worlds apart,” shared Erika, talking about how the Project Binhi was conceived.

Meaning ‘seed’ in local dialect, Project Binhi is all about growing something and starting at the very beginning—Erika has hopes that it will spark the first college graduates for this community. The learning hub will impact the lives of around 600 families, spread out across this mountainous region, giving students at all levels the internet access and tools to study online. 

Speaking about the Energiser Grants more generally, Erika said, “It’s so uplifting that there’s a grant which is so open, it can go to any community in the world with the purpose of transforming education—with no strings attached.”

project binhi

erika edified

Looking ahead

So what does the future look like for this exciting initiative? The scheme hopes to grow organically, with other organisations coming on board to sponsor grants that they feel aligned with and passionate about. 

Whether it’s through this grant or other channels, what’s clear is that the student population has some inspiring ideas about how society can transform the future of education. 

Broadening access to education is a vital way to help solve a lot of problems, as Mark shared there’s an “infinite void” to be filled here—and there are only positives to investing in improving education globally.

With grassroots initiatives like this one at Edified, you can quickly see the impact that projects, and indeed the organisation itself, have on different communities. For universities, empowering their students to get involved with revolutionary initiatives like this one can be immensely rewarding too.

Erika’s time studying at the University of Melbourne encouraged her to pursue a project that is now helping hundreds of families. The only question now is: Who and what’s next?

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