I love my job. I’ve been working with the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation for more than five years, and this role is by far my favourite. 

Why? Because of the people I get to meet, and the stories they tell – stories that we get to help shape. This week is National Youth Week, and a great time to celebrate the achievements of CCAF grant recipients.

One of the most rewarding projects I’ve had the privilege to visit was the Clontarf Foundations Alice Springs Academy. The foundation helps young Aboriginal men improve their education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects – partly by participating in a sport of their choice.

I was invited to attend an early morning footy training session with the students. We piled out of the school bus in the frost early morning cold, and then one of the students asked if I’d like to train with them. That frosty field made for a slippery ball and some butter fingers on my part. Despite my lack of skills as a budding AFL player the students were very kind, and we rounded out an energetic morning by sharing breakfast after training. Not a bad start to the day.

In a nice closure to that loop, some of the students I visited in Alice Springs came to our North Sydney offices several years later, immediately after they’d received their Higher School Certificates. It gave me such satisfaction to know they were all graduating, and to know that our Foundation had played a part in helping them stay in school and achieve their goals.

This story is a great example of what the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation sets out to do: help inspire positive change for marginalised young people all across Australia. To achieve that, we fund innovative programs that concentrate specifically on disadvantaged young people, aged 12 to 25 years, who face major social, physical and economic challenges in their lives. 

Who Gets Grants?

Every year the CCAF gives $1.1m to communities, charities and young people in need – more than $10,000,000 since 2002. This is made up of national grants of various amounts, community plus grants of around $20-40,000, and community grants of up to $10,000.

Our national grants program provides support for large-scale projects that improve young people’s lives. These grants use about 60 percent of our total funding, and they run for around one to five years. The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), for example, is doing absolutely amazing work helping Indigenous kids to finish school and start university at the same rate as non-Indigenous young Australians, all across the country.

Community Plus grants are designed to provide annual funding for special projects of around $20-40,000. One of the projects we support is Skilling Australia, which provides qualifications for unemployed young people while they’re getting practical, workplace experience.

On a smaller but no less important scale, our community grants of up to $10,000 help organisations like the South Burnett Police-Citizens Youth Club in southern Queensland run its gym and hip hop classes.

Gathered over the years the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation has been operating, there are too many success stories to count. You can see a few of them on our Coke in the Community page. And if you think you’ve got a great idea for helping young people in your community, make a grant application.