A Chance For Noosa Students To Shine!
By looking at Noosa in all its glitz and glamour, you wouldn’t realise the tourism mecca is home to many families living in poverty. Jolene Ogle finds out how a group of volunteers are trying to change the future of our kids by giving them a chance.
They say it takes just one person believing in you to change your life but what happens when the whole community believes in you? Inspired by the successful Western Chances organisation in Melbourne, Tara Bell and Georgie Cousens have teamed up to create Noosa Chances – an organisation that will offer scholarships to local students facing financial hardship.
Noosa Chances joint CEO Georgie Cousens says she never knew poverty was such an issue within the Noosa Shire.
“I didn’t realise there was as much poverty as there is in Noosa. We have heard about families living in cars and I couldn’t believe it,” she says.
“You can’t turn away once you know. I instantly wanted to know how I could help and how can we do this? Through Noosa Chances, we realise we’re not just affecting this child; we’re helping the family.”
Throughout the 15 years of operation, Western Chances have offered over 900 scholarships to students living either on or below the poverty line and Noosa Chances hope to one day reach the same heights of positive impact in the local community.
The Noosa Chances scholarships will be funded by local businesses and corporate companies with up to $1,500 handed out to students facing financial hardship who show talent and effort in their studies. Students will be nominated by their school and teachers before being assessed by the 14-strong Noosa Chances board.
For joint CEO Tara, Noosa Chances is an opportunity to do more than simply attend another charity event. Noosa Chances can help improve educational opportunities for the region’s most talented but vulnerable youths.
“I observed year after year, the Western Chances scholarship recipients starting out shy and just blossoming,” Tara says.
“Of course, they said it was the money that helped, but also the acknowledgement of the scholarship. The success rate for these students is phenomenal as is the multiplier effect.
“The scholarships they receive lift the family out of poverty. We see the students lift their performance and, as a result, even their siblings lift their performance.”
Tara and Georgie teamed up in late 2018 before forming a board who funded and delivered their first seven Noosa Chances scholarships in August 2019. Noosa Chances was given a boost in November when Tara and Georgie held a launch and fundraising event, raising a whopping $100,000 for the charity.
“We couldn’t have hoped for a better result from our first Noosa Chances event,” Georgie says. “From a full house of guests to surpassing our $100,000 target for the night (which we already thought was extremely ambitious), it was a complete success in every way.
“We are just so thankful for our passionate and enthusiastic team as well as this amazing community who have rallied behind us to ensure we achieve what we set out to achieve.”