Our Hero Grants

We’re proud to support two charities for the next three years – Free to Shine and The Orangutan Project. Here’s why…

It can be hard for charitable organisations to plan ahead when they don’t know where their next round of funding is coming from. Yet, as we know for any organisation, having long-term revenue is crucial in being able to achieve goals.

That’s why Australian Ethical wants to make a commitment through our Community Grants Foundation to provide ongoing funding to a couple of select charities and NGOs.

“We already have one of the highest rates of corporate giving – with 10% of our annual profits each year donated through our Community Grants program,” says Phil Vernon, Managing Director of Australian Ethical.

“To date, we’ve provided more than $2 million worth of grants. But these two ‘Hero Grants’ will help create real change by funding longevity.”

Given that we’ve supported both The Orangutan Project and Free To Shine for the last three years through our Community Grants, from 2016 we’ve offered them both $20,000 funding each year for the next three years.

“We’ve decided to support these two organisations for the next three years because we want to see them continue to develop their already very strong programs,” says Vernon.

“The monitoring and conservation efforts of The Orangutan Project shows the re-establishment of a Critically Endangered population of Sumatran orangutans, and protection of remaining tiger and elephant populations. Data is collected to confirm their impact with camera traps and patrol teams in close partnership with Frankfurt Zoological Society.”

This snare was found and deactivated by the local rangers that make up the Wildlife Protection Units in the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem. Snares are sometimes set in the jungle by illegal poachers to catch wildlife that might be valuable on the black market or to eat. Captured tigers and sun bears are valuable for their body parts and species that are hunted to eat include deer and wild pig.

This snare was found and deactivated by the local rangers that make up the Wildlife Protection Units in the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem. Snares are sometimes set in the jungle by illegal poachers to catch wildlife that might be valuable on the black market or to eat. Captured tigers and sun bears are valuable for their body parts and species that are hunted to eat include deer and wild pig.

“Free To Shine are providing meaningful support for hundreds of young girls in Cambodia who are at risk of sex trafficking – they’re supporting 700 girls to stay in school. And we all know that one of the best ways to bring communities out of poverty is to educate women!”

“The Hero Grants will mean that The Orangutan Project and Free To Shine can continue to create real change, and we’re looking forward to seeing the tangible outcomes of their already proven work,” says Vernon.

FREE TO SHINE:A scholarship program for girls at risk of sex trafficking in Cambodia
In Cambodia, girls who are not attending school are at higher risk of being targeted by traffickers. Only 80% of Cambodian children are enrolled in primary school and only 26% are enrolled in secondary school. The rates are even lower in rural Cambodia and lower still for girls.

Free To Shine is a charity that believes girls should be in schools, not brothels. They identify girls at high-risk of being targeted by traffickers, then enrol each girl in school, provide her with a uniform, backpack, bicycle, school materials, and visit her and her family every month for ongoing support.

There are currently 700 girls in the program, in 44 rural villages throughout Cambodia. Girls are supported with an education through to grade 12, and beyond to university if they want to. As a result of last year’s Australian Ethical grant Free To Shine now offers support to 15 different rural villages in the Siem Province, where the parents of many girls have gone to work in Thailand.

“The funding Australian Ethical have provided for the last three years has enabled us to enrol 129 girls onto our program,” says Nicky Mih, the Managing Director of Free To Shine. “And, the funding over the next three years will be used to help each of these girls access their basic human rights and stay in school.”

“With a proper education, the girls have more opportunities to obtain higher paying jobs and help their community, assisting in breaking the cycle of poverty.”

This 12 year old was in grade 5 when Free To Shine were introduced to her. She really wanted to be able to finish grade 12, but wasn’t sure if her family could support her studies financially. Her father said, “I really want her to finish school, she is the last hope of our family. I wanted all my children to finish school and get good jobs, but they were not able to because we couldn’t afford their education.” When she found out that she was going to be on Free To Shine’s program, she was so excited. “I promise to be a good student and study really hard”, she said. “I am so excited to get a new bike. I promise I will keep it clean and look after it forever”. Nicky from Free To Shine says that thanks to Australian Ethical’s ongoing support, “we’ll be able to provide her all the books and pens she needs, help with bicycle repairs and additional classes, we’ll provide the family with a water filter so that they have safe drinking water, and we’ll even help them grow a veggie garden so that they have nutritious meals.”

This 12 year old was in grade 5 when Free To Shine were introduced to her. She really wanted to be able to finish grade 12, but wasn’t sure if her family could support her studies financially. Her father said, “I really want her to finish school, she is the last hope of our family. I wanted all my children to finish school and get good jobs, but they were not able to because we couldn’t afford their education.” When she found out that she was going to be on Free To Shine’s program, she was so excited. “I promise to be a good student and study really hard”, she said. “I am so excited to get a new bike. I promise I will keep it clean and look after it forever”. Nicky from Free To Shine says that thanks to Australian Ethical’s ongoing support, “we’ll be able to provide her all the books and pens she needs, help with bicycle repairs and additional classes, we’ll provide the family with a water filter so that they have safe drinking water, and we’ll even help them grow a veggie garden so that they have nutritious meals.”

THE ORANGUTAN PROJECT: Locally run Wildlife Protection Units in Sumatra, Indonesia
Around 80% of the orangutan’s rainforest habitat has been decimated in the past 20 years. Much of what remains is degraded by erosion, forest fires, and illegal logging – in particular for palm oil plantations.

The Orangutan Project’s Wildlife Protection Units are responsible for patrolling the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park and buffer zone, where over 165 Sumatran orangutans have been released. The Units have been highly successful in deterring illegal activities including logging, educating local people about laws against poaching orangutans, gathering information about illegal activities and reporting these to the Forestry Police, and collecting wildlife data as an evaluation tool for the ecosystem. Local people are employed as members of the WPU, which contributes to the local economy and reinforcing the importance of orangutans to the area.

Leif Cocks from The Orangutan Project, says “In 2015,  alongside WWF-Indonesia and the Frankfurt Zoological Society, we achieved a tremendous victory for Sumatran wildlife, obtaining the management rights for two forestry concession blocks in the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem, Jambi, Sumatra.” This coalition now manages 38,000 hectares of tropical rainforest in the Bukit Tigapuluh Park area, and last year’s $10,000 grant funded additional Wildlife Protection Units to protect the area.

“One of our key priorities over the next three years will be restoring parts of the concession that have been deforested and Units will patrol and protect this forest that is key habitat for Sumatran elephants, tigers and orangutans,” says Cocks.

“We are so grateful to Australian Ethical for realising the importance of this area and providing much needed funds to protect this precious ecosystem.”

The orangutan mother in this photo, Rimbani, was an illegally held pet in 2005. She was released into the wild in 2006 and adapted very well to the jungle. In 2015, she gave birth to a baby boy, Raja, who was named in a naming competition by a TOP supporter (‘Raja’ means ‘King’ in Indonesian). Orangutan infants are often sold on the illegal wildlife market when hunters kill their mothers. Due to massive habitat destruction, the hunting of orangutans has become easier and orangutan mothers are now desperately raiding palm oil plantations for food. The Wildlife Protection Units are doing the best they can to keep Raja and Rimbani safe.

The orangutan mother in this photo, Rimbani, was an illegally held pet in 2005. She was released into the wild in 2006 and adapted very well to the jungle. In 2015, she gave birth to a baby boy, Raja, who was named in a naming competition by a TOP supporter (‘Raja’ means ‘King’ in Indonesian). 
Orangutan infants are often sold on the illegal wildlife market when hunters kill their mothers. Due to massive habitat destruction, the hunting of orangutans has become easier and orangutan mothers are now desperately raiding palm oil plantations for food. The Wildlife Protection Units are doing the best they can to keep Raja and Rimbani safe.

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How you can get involved

This year will be the first time that we’re offering Australian Ethical members the opportunity to vote on what charities and projects they think should get a Community Grant in 2016. That means if you’re a member of Australian Ethical, you get a say! Keep an eye out for an email with more details.

We’ll announce the Community Grant recipients on our blog in October.

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