The Country Education Foundation of Cowra (CEF Cowra) recently held a presentation evening to award nine young local apprentices with funding to help them achieve their vocational and study goals.
Held at the Cowra Services Club, which provides an annual donation to CEF Cowra, the presentation recognised these aspirational students and celebrated the success of their applications.
It also provided an opportunity for the CEF Cowra committee to get to know the apprentices and their families on a more personal level.
Funds awarded to these students were raised through the committee's fundraising events, the CEF national office's partnerships and independent local donations.
In particular, funding for this latest round of grants was achieved with a substantial donation from the Thyne Reid Foundation to CEF Cowra in recognition of the effects of serious drought in our community.
The apprentices can now access these funds to pay for an agreed work or study related expense.
Successful applicants Patrick Ryan (Building and Construction), Nathan Dale (Agricultural Mechanical Technology), Keagan Hunt (Hairdressing), Toby Apps (Plumbing) and Thomas Treasure (Automotive Engineering) attended the presentation evening with their family and friends to accept awards on the night.
Patrick Ryan, who attends TAFE two days every three weeks and apprentices with Bernie Wilkinson Building, had previously been unaware of the CEF Cowra grants for apprentices.
"I knew about the local grants because I'd heard about them through Cowra High [School] but didn't realise that apprentices could apply. It was really good news when I learnt that I could get a grant as well, like university students do," Mr Ryan said.
CEF Cowra dealt directly with Training NSW's Western NSW Training Coordinator, Leanne McKenzie in an effort to promote its grants to non-tertiary students more effectively.
Ms McKenzie proved instrumental in disseminating grant information and application forms to Cowra apprentices, resulting in a record number of apprenticeship grants being awarded and ensuring funds were directed to some of the students who need it most.
"Most of the tools and equipment I need for my job and TAFE are pretty expensive so the grant will really help me pay for those. I don't know where I'd be without that assistance," Mr Ryan said.
"The committee members told us we could keep applying until we were older than 25 so we could get a new grant every year, which is a big relief.
"I've learnt a lot by coming tonight and it's nice to know that Cowra people want to help other Cowra people," he said.
CEF Cowra Treasurer, Michael Delaney said it was great to meet the apprentices and to learn more about their goals.
"These local students are keen to further themselves beyond high school, whilst remaining in their home town and hopefully offering their training and trades to Cowra residents long-term - that's a really important thing to foster and support," Mr Delaney said.
"CEF Cowra applauds their efforts and we look forward to working with them and helping them wherever possible to achieve what they want with their careers," Mr Delaney said.
Other recipients who were unable to be at the event include Lanty Ryan (Plastering), Joseph Treasure (Electrotechnology), Brandon Dickerson (Plumbing) and Ashleigh Stone (Business).
The most recent round of grants was made in addition to the original 12 grants awarded by CEF Cowra earlier this year for both university students and apprentices, taking the total number of 2019 local grants to 21 with a combined value of $15,450.
According to Mr Delaney, the support and funding from the committee can sometimes mean the difference between local Cowra youth achieving their aspirations or finding it too difficult to accomplish on a number of levels.
"Our grants not only assist students in covering some of the expenses related to their chosen post-high school goals, but they provide support in other ways as well such as mentoring, advice and sharing useful contacts.
"We know that pursuing careers can be expensive and it can also seem daunting and confusing.
"The message we send to Cowra youth when we award grants is that your local community supports you reach your goal," Mr Delaney said.
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