Kids Like Us

Kids Like Us is the only organisation in Australia to offer a comprehensive support structure and a sense of belonging for twice-exceptional students through the provision of learning and emotional support, advocacy and peer-to-peer support. They work with twice-exceptional youth, who are gifted children with learning differences / disabilities, enabling them to achieve their potential in school and life. Many Australian states identify gifted students according to the definition proposed by education researcher Professor Françoys Gagné. ‘Giftedness’ is considered as an outstanding potential, while ‘talent’ is outstanding performance.
Students may excel in many areas or in a very narrow specific domain. However, a twice-exceptional student also has a challenge of some kind — this challenge may be officially identified as a disability or social emotional problem … or it may not. These challenges can be anything from autism to dyslexia, or ADHD to medical issues, and can have a significant effect on how well a person is able to learn.

Traditional teaching methods are often structured in a logical and rigid way, and because of this Kids Like Us frequently encounters twice-exceptional students who are struggling with the confines of this system. In addition to their gifts and challenges, these students may find themselves confronted by anxiety or depression, which further stunts their progress. SVPM’s Kids Like Us team is currently working with Kids Like Us to identify and define the major areas where support is required for the launch of the Kids Like Us Academy in early 2020.

SVP Melbourne & Kids Like Us

The core team of SVP Partners has included John Craven (Lead Partner), Wayne Saunders, Paul Cooper, Ollie Lovell and Melissa Grenville. 

Kids Like Us Australia Limited (KLU) is the only organisation in Australia to offer a comprehensive support structure and a sense of belonging for twice-exceptional (2e) students through the provision of learning and emotional support, advocacy and peer-to-peer support. Kids Like Us’s purpose is to enable 2e young people to have a voice. They work hard with young people, parents, members of staff and the legal system (when required) to ensure that these young people are able to make themselves heard and, just as importantly, that they are listened to.  Their vision is that all 2e students will be identified and supported in a learning environment for their individual requirements.

Much of who Kids Like Us are and what we become as an organisation is shaped by the young people we work with, constantly finding new and different ways to help them to get what they need.

Why did they need our help?

In 2018 Kids Like Us was on the precipice of significant growth. Kids Like Us sought support from Social Venture Partners Melbourne to maximise the potential of this exciting and unique period in the life of this very special organisation.

The “KLU Change Project” includes the opening of Australia’s first Academy (now called the Tombolo Academy) for 2e students and the development of a 2e Research Centre, which will have the potential to impact the lives of tens of thousands of young people in Australia and around the world.

In 2018 KLU had the capacity to support up to 700 2e young people through its counselling and learning centre, however the potential number of 2e school age students currently unsupported in Victoria is estimated to be 35,000.

How we assisted

Social Venture Partners Melbourne has assisted KLU in several ways:

  1. We began by assisting KLU to successfully secure $30,000 of project funding from Newsboys Foundation.
  2. Early in 2019 Social Venture Partners Melbourne formed a core team of partners including John Craven (Lead Partner), Wayne Saunders, Paul Cooper, Ollie Lovell and Melissa Grenville.
  3. Paul facilitated several planning Workshops to clarify the goals and resources needed to execute the ambitious project.
  4. We located several key resources from our network of talent including Lynn Cameron as Project Manager, Gentons Architects (pro bono) for the project management and the large building firm Candor Group to pull together building plans, arrange approvals and locate tradesmen.
  5. Late in 2019 Wayne accepted the KLU offer to join the Board of the Tombolo Academy to provide hands on leadership and governance advice to the KLU team.

The impact

The real value of Social Venture Partners Melbourne has been in working with KLU management and Board to fully understand what is required to undertake the program of change, how the grant funds could be best utilised to generate future financial growth and resilience and to access some of the specialist resources need to plan and execute the project.

What’s next?

The plan is to launch the Tombolo Academy in July 2020. To achieve this, Tombolo Academy requires further development and refinement of the education plans and curriculum and some capital works on the school facilities to ensure it is OH&S compliant. KLU operations needs to be adapted to operate independently from the Academy to ensure that it meets Government school registration requirements.

To achieve this KLU requires additional funds and resources to be compliant and ready to launch the school in July 2020. We are assisting them to raise this additional funding and if you are interested in supporting the Tombolo Academy launch, please get in touch with us, as it is a unique opportunity to participate in and support a very special school. Once the Academy has launched successfully we will turn our attention to supporting the expansion of the concept at least within Australia and in time globally

The Tombolo Academy is a game-changing concept for 2e young people who until now have not had the possibility of attending a school that will enable them to realise their potential. The proposed Academy and Research Centre is designed to begin to address this shortfall.

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