Social enterprises working to tackle employment barriers and support more Australians into work are set to accelerate their growth and impact with new funding from Australia’s leading philanthropic foundations.
Fourteen organisations from around Australia will receive grant funding totalling more than $4.7 million as part of the pioneering Work Integration Social Enterprise (WISE) Grant program managed by Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation as part of an innovative collaboration.
The successful enterprises were selected for their work in tackling complex barriers to work with groups including young people, women experiencing disadvantage, refugees and asylum seekers, First Nations people and people living with disability or mental health challenges.
The WISE grants are a Giving Account of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation supported by a coalition of philanthropic foundations including, English Family Foundation, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Macquarie Group, Minderoo Foundation, Paul Ramsay Foundation, Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and Westpac Foundation. The external advisor has been legal firm MinterEllison.
These foundations have united to share their resources and knowledge to create a more effective and streamlined approach to supporting earlier stage WISE initiatives.
Each of the 14 recipient organisations will receive grants of up to $500,000 over two years.
Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation CEO Dr Catherine Brown said the grant was an opportunity to address the specific challenges facing Work Integration Social Enterprises, backing them to grow their impact and support more people to thrive and provide funding to build robust business models.
“Work Integration Social Enterprises are leading the charge on addressing Australia’s pressing employment gaps, but we know this vital work comes with significant challenges for business sustainability and growth,” she said. “These grants have been tailored to meet WISE needs, providing support for core operating costs to reinforce these social enterprises’ financial sustainability and social impact.
“Importantly, each of the WISE grant recipients are working closely with their target communities and creating community-driven solutions to the employment challenges they face.
“We’re excited to be collaborating with other philanthropic organisations and the grant recipients towards a shared goal of meaningful employment and economic dignity for everyone in Australia.”
A recent Social Enterprise Australia study revealed that for every $1 million in turnover, social enterprises create nine jobs, which is nine times more than industries like construction1. They integrate real-world work settings with skill development, training, and education, effectively reducing barriers to work and increasing opportunities for individuals.
Research also indicates that direct impact expenses for WISE – such as wages of support staff, additional training, equipment for accessibility needs and necessary transport for employees – are in the range of 20-30% of the total costs of running the social enterprise.2
2023 WISE grant recipients
Click each organisation to learn more.