The EdConnect program, generously supported by the Alcoa Foundation in 2017, has been a win-win for both local students and senior community volunteers who have connected for educational mentoring and renewed purpose.

Trained EdConnect volunteers, typically older members of the community who want to contribute their help and guidance, have supported 830 local students requiring extra help to remain engaged in school and achieve their potential.

Volunteers have provided more than 170 hours of support each week, totalling approximately $309,000 of in-kind contribution this year.

EdConnect Australia has successfully run the program in Western Australian schools for more than 20 years and has partnered with Alcoa to expand into the Peel region.

Students receive learning support or one-on-one mentoring with the volunteers. The program in turn provides older generations the opportunity to remain active and meaningfully connected in their community. Students involved in the program have shown academic improvement, are more engaged at school and their self-esteem and confidence has increased.

Falcon Primary School has benefited from EdConnect volunteer support according to Adrian Perry, Deputy Principal who said the program had assisted students both socially and academically.

“The volunteers make a personal connection with the students, so the students know that there’s someone else looking out for them and taking an interest in their success.” Mr Perry said.

EdConnect volunteers often report that they get more out of the program than the students. Volunteer Wilbur Graham said his involvement gave him great satisfaction and taught him new skills.

“The best part is the look in the kids’ eyes when they get something. I call them ‘bright light’ moments”, Mr Graham said.