Roots of Change is a storytelling platform dedicated to the Alumni community of The Funding Network Australia. Here we share their stories of ingenuity, courage, determination, spirit, growth and the impact these grassroots organisations have had, as a direct result of funds and support received from The Funding Network community.

The Bridge

The Bridge


Transforming lives through empowerment, choice, support, advocacy and connections to work and community.

The Bridge is a community-based organisation offering diverse programs to empower some of the most vulnerable people in the Darebin community. They work to provide young people with disability with supportive work placement and employment opportunities, so they can develop their skills and reach their full potential. They are seeking funding to employ a full-time support worker, who will play a pivotal role in running the program, ensuring its long-term sustainability and educating local employers about the benefits and importance of employing people with disability.

2018 Pitch

Funds raised: $26,111

In February 2018, The Bridge pitched for funding to hire a support worker for its Tiered Transition Training (TTT) Program. The $26,111 raised at TFN Live Melbourne will go towards enabling Bridge to continue supporting young people with learning disabilities to get work experience at its social enterprise café Moon Rabbit and collaborate with industry partners to support them as they move to full employment.

The impact…

Faced with social stigma and a culture of low expectations around what people with disability can achieve, people with learning disabilities are often excluded from the workforce. This can lead to isolation, boredom, a loss of purpose and importantly, the continuation of social stigma. At TFN Live Melbourne, Chris from The Bridge pitched for funding to give their young job seekers the skills and encouragement they need to break through, find employment and show the world – and themselves – what they can do.

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Thanks to the collective generosity of the audience that night, The Bridge has been able to hire an Education Support Worker to expand the reach of its TTT program which offers tailored employment training and support to young people with learning disabilities.

So far 28 young people have directly benefited from the opportunity to receive assistance from the support worker, with very encouraging results. A total of 71% have gained employment, 19% are still studying with The Bridge or have gone on to further education, and 3% have started in business for themselves.


One of these new employees was a young woman named Jenny*..

“Jenny*, was a student from the second round of the TTT program. Jenny came into the program at 22, having never worked and coming from third generation unemployment in her family. Jenny had social and anxiety issues and an attitude that needed to do a complete 360 if she was ever going to work cooperatively with others. During the first three weeks of the program, she clashed with every other student and tested the boundaries with the trainer and Education Support Worker repeatedly. Jenny was facing being asked to leave the program and we chose to give her one more chance. We withdrew her temporarily from the class and placed her for one week, one-on-one with the Education Support Worker (whose salary is funded by the [TFN Live] Pitch funds). She was given an opportunity to learn about social cues, what behaviour is inside and outside, acceptable boundaries and what behaviour needed to be modelled to not only stay in the class – but to achieve employment. The tactic worked and it entirely changed her life from that point. For the first time ever she had been called on this behaviour and then had the consequences explained to her in real terms…”

“…Jenny went on to be one of the stars of the program, continued to volunteer with us in the cafe and our community lunches whilst we assisted her with job search. Last Thursday she started her first full-time job as a call-centre operator for Centrelink. She is in training now and loving it. She has communicated to us all how grateful she is that we gave her a second-chance and in her words a ‘real chance at life’ “ - Chris Lombardo, Executive Officer

*Name changed.

Read their Impact Report.

Learn more about The Bridge 

Carringbush Adult Education

Carringbush Adult Education

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Coffee Cart Changing Lives (Crêpes For Change)