Bennelong Foundation hosted its 21st Pitch In event in Melbourne last week and it was the biggest, and possibly best, yet.
More than 100 people gathered to hear from the leaders of three not for profits – Community Grocer, River Nile Learning Centre (RNLC) and Mzuri Dance ArtisTree – ‘pitch’ for their share of $50,000. In conversation with members of the Bennelong Foundation team, the organisations told heartfelt and inspiring stories of how they help refugee and lower socio-economic communities in Melbourne. The event also celebrated the contribution of Sandra Jacobs during her almost eight years as the CEO of the Bennelong Foundation and welcomed incoming CEO Laura Cochrane.
“This is an event that has community at its heart,” said Laura Cochrane.
“One of the attendees, who is a not-for-profit leader herself, told me she has dubbed the event ‘the friendly pitch’ because of its genuine welcome to community leaders, the obvious camaraderie in the room and the celebration of the hard work taking place in grassroots organisations.”
The Pitch In events are community favourites because they bring together staff from the Bangarra Family Office group, Foundation grant partners, previous presenters and community members to celebrate, and donate to, grassroots community organisations. They are held every year in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as in the UK where it is supported by Bennelong Foundation UK. At each event, audience members listen to the community leaders present and then vote on the projects that they wanted to support by giving their ‘Pitch In Dollar’ to one of the three organisations.
About the ‘Pitch In Melbourne 2023’ not-for-profit organisations
The Community Grocer runs affordable fresh fruit and vegetable markets for communities at risk of food insecurity in Fitzroy, Carlton and Pakenham. Its inclusive markets help solve physical and economic barriers to fresh food access by providing sustainable and dignified access to food at a price people can afford, while also connecting communities to combat social exclusion. Funding received from Pitch In will go towards starting a new market at the Flemington housing estate in inner city Melbourne.
The River Nile Learning Centre (RNLC) educates refugee and asylum seeker women who are not eligible to be enrolled in a government school, owing to their age or visa restrictions. Based in North Melbourne, it offers free English and digital literacy classes, extracurricular activities like swimming, art, and excursions, as well as a welfare program including free childcare, public transport cards, driving lessons and food supplies. The funding received from Pitch In will go towards hiring a new English teacher.
Mzuri Dance ArtisTree provides free dance, education and empowerment programs to young African people, women and families facing social and economic barriers. Designed and run in collaboration with community members living on housing estates in Fitzroy, Carlton, Collingwood and North Richmond, the arts, cooking and small business programs foster leadership skills and mentorship opportunities, including pathways to employment/self-employment. The funding received from Pitch In will go towards keeping the programs operating at the four locations for another year.