National Australia Bank launches $5 million annual education awards program

Friday, 3 October 2008

National Australia Bank Group (NAB) today announced a world-first education awards program open to every primary and secondary school in Australia, with $5 million available in awards funding every year. Beginning in 2009, Schools First is the biggest corporate sponsored education initiative in the country.

Schools First has been developed by NAB in partnership with Australia Cares, the Foundation for Young Australians and the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

The initiative is based on research that shows effective school-community partnerships can result in improved student outcomes including: greater student engagement, improved attendance and retention, better academic performance, increased skills and improved transitions into the workforce, further education or training.

Schools First aims to promote excellence in the area by providing significant incentives for schools to build and strengthen partnerships with their communities.

Launched in Melbourne today by the Hon. Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Social Inclusion, Schools First has been praised by the Federal Government as a leading and innovative approach to business and community working together to improve educational outcomes across Australia.

The Schools First initiative provides:

  • Financial recognition of success in establishing effective school-community partnerships; and
  • Financial support to build stronger school-community partnerships.

To support the awards program, Schools First will also facilitate a national series of workshops to help schools and communities learn about how to build and strengthen partnerships, as well as developing a central knowledge bank of resources for all schools and communities to draw on.

"The beauty of Schools First is that through the framework provided, every school and community has the opportunity to develop a project that’s individually tailored to their specific needs – and that means powerful local solutions for local issues," said Michael Ullmer, Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer, National Australia Bank.

Australia Cares Chief Executive Officer Leah Sertori said "This is the first time an initiative of this magnitude has been launched in the education sector anywhere in the world.

"We're proud to be part of such a landmark program. The responsibility for raising resilient, adaptable and enquiring young people is something that falls to the entire community; and we believe Schools First is an excellent way to help support and promote this aim", Ms Sertori said.

Schools First will be open to every primary and secondary school in Australia - public and private, special needs, religious and independent.

Notes to Editors:

Free, broadcast-quality radio grabs available for download at

For further information please contact:

Felicity Glennie-Holmes T: 03 8641 3627 M: 0412 673 038 E: