Kids as Catalyst: children leading local community change

Program overview

Kids as Catalyst (formerly InSchools Philanthropy) is a six-month creative leadership, and social change program activating children to build resilience and improve community connections.

Delivered throughout Victoria, and linked to AusVELS and Victorian Curriculum, this program equips upper primary children with the skills to identify and solve real problems facing their community through creative and collaborative projects. KiC won the 2017 VicHealth award for improving mental wellbeing.

The philosophy

Children can thrive when we acknowledge their capacity to lead local change.

Building skills for life

Kids as Catalyst calls for early engagement, new ideas, respectful community partnerships, and recognises children as vibrant catalysts for positive change. We ask children to reflect on their personal values, and teach them how to conceive, design and implement real-life, philanthropic projects.

The skills developed by children in the program go beyond numeracy and literacy bench-marking to introduce project management, leadership and communication skills. Participants forge partnerships with local volunteers, charities and community organisations; ‘pitch’ community projects to a formidable panel of local community leaders; develop budgets and manage finances; and then deliver their unique community projects.

Young students build deep community connections and deliver tangible, real-world results of which they are justifiably proud. Kids as Catalyst activates and inspires children to take an ongoing interest in community action and social justice.

Leadership and resilience

Kids Thrive collaborates with children as active members of their community, unearthing the issues they care about, and supporting them to make a real impact. Kids as Catalyst develops a sense of engaged citizenship in children, building a strong foundation for a resilient society.

School commitment

Kids Thrive deliver weekly training in schools over two terms. Schools commit to a weekly 90-minute class, in a designated room with weekly follow up in class for required actions, and attendance of the participating class to two community engagement events.

 Program Aims:

  • Activating children as major contributors to and creators of community
  • Fostering children’s resilience, leadership, and entrepreneurship
  • Building and embracing leadership opportunities for children in their schools and communities
  • Developing children’s passion for social justice, and capacity to drive community change
  • Strengthening connections between schools and communities
  • Developing children’s literacy, budgeting, and financial management skills

2017 Program Outcomes

2017 Community Projects

Further Information

  • Kids as Catalyst (under its former name InSchools Philanthropy) is featured as a case study in best practice in the Australian Council for Education Research’s Leading Learning in Education and Philanthropy (LLEAP) Reports.  Click here to download the full reports: 2012 (see ISP case study on pp 56 – 58) and 2014 (see pp 62-65).

‘I realise that I can make a change now. I can talk to adults and they will listen to me. I thought I had to be older to do that. Kids can make a difference now.’ Student, grade 5

‘I saw many young people who were inspirational, passionate about helping others, were highly articulate and skilled to make a profound difference. I felt moved, touched and proud at what each group presented and had learnt through this exceptional program.’ Melina Maranville, Principal, Ivanhoe East Primary School

2017 Delivery Partners – Schools and Agencies

Benalla Region – Benalla P-12 College | Tomorrow Today Foundation
Wyndham Region – Our Lady of the Southern Cross Primary School | Wyndham Park Primary School | The Smith Family
Goldfields Region – Maldon Primary School


2017 Funding Partners

Victorian Department of Education & Training | VicHealth | Sidney Myer Fund | The William Buckland Foundation
Helen Macpherson Smith Trust | Newsboys Foundation | Collier Charitable Fund | W.C.F. Thomas Charitable Trust


2017 Evaluation Partner

University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health – The Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program