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CLIENT NEWS - Learning Matters receive launch funding to help NZ kids

Learning Matters receive launch funding to help NZ kids

An online literacy programme designed to help children with learning differences like dyslexia will be launched with the help of funding fromWEL Energy Trust and the Ākina Foundation.

Learning Matters, established by Hamilton mother and teacher Carla McNeil, is one of three Waikato social enterprises that have received Impact Investment Readiness Grants to help grow their businesses.

Learning Matters will receive $10,000 worth of professional services to seek investment to launch its online literacy programme nationwide, helping thousands of children with learning difficulties.

The $10,000 is part of a $50,000 Impact Investment Readiness Grant WEL Energy Trust has provided to impact development organisation Ākina, to grow social enterprise in the Waikato.

Mrs McNeil established Learning Matters in 2016, after struggling for many years to find the support she needed to help her son William, who wasn’t learning.

Her business now employs 12 specialist educators around New Zealand, providing education consultancy services for schools and specialising in learning support for dyslexic students.

“I knew when William was four that something wasn’t right. We went through numerous assessments, but he was 10 before he was finally diagnosed as dyslexic and we got the support we needed for him to thrive at school.”

Mrs McNeil said launching the online literacy programme would mean other teachers, schools, students and their families wouldn’t have to experience the struggle her family did.

“For the first time in New Zealand, teachers, schools and families will have an evidenced-based platform where they can land to access professional learning material, assessments and suitable resources.  We want to enable, empower and inspire every child that has a learning difference in this country.”

“We believe quality instruction in mainstream classrooms is what will make the biggest difference to all learners.”

The $10,000 grant will see Mrs McNeil work alongside Ākina to map out their investment and business plan over the next five years.

“We’re confident this will lead to us achieving the necessary critical mass for increased awareness and impact in New Zealand.”

She said the grant process had already been a great learning opportunity and they were looking forward to the increased potential the investment would bring, both for Learning Matters and those they work hard to make a difference for.

WEL Energy Trust Chief Executive Raewyn Jones said partnering with Ākina was about helping to grow the ecosystem for investment into businesses that are doing good in our communities, and providing the specialist knowledge and support they need to take their business to the next level.

“We’re excited about growing social enterprise activity in the Waikato and Ākina is the perfect partner for that.”

“This grant is a way of making sure this type of business activity continues to grow in the Waikato and we’re keen to see how we can continue working together.  It’s all about finding new solutions to old problems.”

Ākina Director Jackson Rowland said it was the third time Ākina had run Impact Investment Readiness Grants, but it wasthe first time it had run a local version of the programme, thanks to the WEL funding.

“We’re really thrilled to have been able to offer this opportunity targeted to Waikato businesses.”

“Through the applications we received, we’ve seen just how much awesome potential there is in the Waikato.  The previous national grant rounds unlocked over $4 million of impact investing from just $150,000 of grant money, so we’re really looking forward to seeing how much investment will be unlocked by our Waikato grant recipients over the coming months.”

“Our three Waikato recipients are exciting, impactful businesses.  They’ll be using the grant money to help take them to the next level, whether that’s through the development of their business models, funding strategies or getting ready for an equity raise.”