Did you play tuneless recorder songs to your parents in primary school? Sing in a choir? Learn to dance? If so, you’re probably in the minority. The reality is that three out of four Australian schools don’t have music teachers, which means students are missing out on the opportunity to experience musical creativity.
This fact, among others, is what motivates Caroline Aebersold, the CEO of The Song Room, a leading Australian arts education provider that was recently unveiled as a flagship partner of the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation (CCAF).
“I was fortunate enough to learn a lot of instruments, sing in choirs and have access to the arts and creativity throughout my upbringing,” Caroline said. “The thought that so many children are missing out is part of what drives our work at The Song Room.”
Since 1999, The Song Room has delivered its creative arts-based programs to over 1,500 disadvantaged school communities around Australia. The results include significant improvements in young people’s educational outcomes, and social and emotional wellbeing.
“When I first came across the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation and its grant opportunities what really resonated with me was their mission: to inspire moments of happiness in the lives of young adults,” Caroline said. “It aligns perfectly with the work of The Song Room – it’s what we’re all about.”
When new migrants and refugee students arrive in Australia, they often face challenges in developing English language skills and getting up to speed in the education system. The Song Room’s ArtsConnect program is an innovative, arts-based intervention rolled out in targeted English language schools and intensive English centres in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.
“Schools like Noble Park English Language School are the perfect environment for a program like this,” Caroline said. “It’s so important at a school like this for us to inspire happiness in the lives of these young people who need the opportunity to thrive.”
To assist communities and help inspire these young Australians, the Foundation took applications for two grant types in 2016 – Flagship Grants of up to $200,000 a year for three years, and Employee Connected Grants of up to $25,000 with a reference from a Coca-Cola South Pacific or Coca-Cola Amatil employee in Australia.
“A flagship partnership such as the one we have with The Song Room represents a real commitment from the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation to their mission and cause,” CCAF chairman Malcolm Hudson said.
“It’s a relationship we intend to nurture and support over a three-year period, with funding of up to $200,000 per year.”
Following a complete overhaul of its mission and application processes in early 2016, the foundation now focuses on The Coca-Cola Company’s employees and the needs of their communities.
“We want our staff to be as connected to our grant partners as possible,” Malcolm said. “With The Song Room we see great possibilities for employees across Australia to become involved either through holiday programs or with the four English language schools targeted under the ArtsConnect program.”
The CCAF is at the heart of the national community strategy for Coca-Cola in Australia.
Applications for 2016 are now closed. New dates for the next round of grants will be published here when available.