Telstra Foundation in 2021: enabling social change through technology

This year Telstra Foundation continued to invest in programs and projects to build digital skills and enable community-led climate action, supporting our mission to enable social change through technology. In 2021, these programs and partnerships supported more than 720,000 changemakers, impacting more than 550,000 lives. Here is an end of year snapshot on our 2021 progress to deliver our three goals.
Jackie Coates · 21 December 2021 · 4 minute read

GOAL 1: Build digital skills across Australia

We believe that every young person should have opportunities to access digital skills training needed for the future of work. We know this opportunity is not equally distributed. We support programs that teach coding, augmented reality, enterprise and digital literacy skills to enable young people (and their teachers) to use and understand technologies. We also support innovative digital projects that enable diverse, vulnerable, and disadvantaged youth the opportunity to thrive. This amplifies our belief that digital inclusion is not just about learning how to use technology; it is also about leveraging that use to the next step.

In 2021, this work amplified our Code Club program and partnerships with Indigital Schools; Young Change Agents; Autism Australia; Expression Australia; Infoxchange; Orygen Digital and Big hART.

Telstra Foundation delivered digital skills opportunities to more than 44,000 people in schools across Australia. Our investment and capability-building accelerator program (Tech4Good) also empowered five non-profits to build ground-breaking digital products and services for young people from the ground-up; empowering more than 290,000 changemakers, impacting more than 500,000 lives.

GOAL 2: Turbocharge the power of community-led climate action

Telstra Foundation also supports projects that equip communities to leverage digital technology to remedy and adapt to the effects of climate change where they live – such as capturing and using climate data or applying emerging technologies to solve climate and environmental challenges. Initiatives include support for ClimateWatch in partnership with Earthwatch; Humanitech in partnership with the Australian Red Cross and Healthy Country AI Training in partnership with North Australian Indigenous Land & Sea Management Alliance and Australia’s national science agency CSIRO.

In 2021, our climate action partnerships enabled more than 20,500 changemakers for climate action and impacted over 2500 lives.

GOAL 3: Grow a movement of Telstra Foundation changemakers

Telstra Foundation believes changemaking is a team sport. In 2021, the team supported changemakers across the business, delivering a mix of employee giving and shareholder donation programs:

  • Our Data4Good program: a joint initiative with Telstra’s Project Helix team that leverages the skills of Telstra employees working in data to help solve data challenges faced by non-profit partners.
  • Our Telstra Foundation Changemakers Fund: an online, employee grants program linked to Telstra’s recognition and rewards program and corporate values that awards selected employees with a $1000 community grant to gift to a charitable cause they care about.
  • We matched Telstra employee fundraising via Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s (CPA) Steptember campaign and enabled Telstra shareholder donations to Foudnaiton partners via Telstra’s Dividend Reinvestment program (DRP).

In 2021, we engaged more than 11,156 people in our employee changemaker programs, hosted seven Data4Good engagements, awarded 500 employee grants, supported over 1700 Telstra changemakers who raised $226,900 for Steptember and directed $215,895 in Telstra shareholder residual donations to Alannah & Madeline Foundation.

2021 has been a big year for the Telstra Foundation team and partners, and while we have no funding rounds open currently, you can:

Telstra Foundation snapshot: 2021 by the numbers

Data source: Telstra Foundation Annual Information Survey completed by Telstra Foundation partners for calendar year 2021.

In 2021, Telstra Foundation also:

  • empowered 729,209 community changemakers across all States and territories and impacted 557,349 lives
  • enabled 149 digital products and services including platforms, apps, digital resources in beta, pilot or in market
  • enabled 2,138 diverse, disadvantaged or vulnerable people to get involved in the co-design, testing or development of programs, products, services and resources
  • funding was leveraged by our partners for 29 additional grants
  • supported 8 digital skills partners and programs to help address digital exclusion in Australia, including managing Code Club Australia (under licence)
  • supported 3 tech-focussed partnerships focussed on community-led climate action in our cities, towns, regions and remote communities
  • enabled almost 1500 young people via 43 youth mental health services to access award winning, evidenced based blended digital support as part of our Covid Mental Health Relief fund
  • enabled an additional $1,077,795 in donations to Telstra partners via shareholder and employee giving programs
  • involved more than 2100 diverse, vulnerable and disadvantaged people to get involved in the co-design, co-authoring, testing and development of Telstra Foundation programs/funded projects


By Jackie Coates

Head of Telstra Foundation

A seasoned community investment leader, Jackie is passionate about enabling social innovation underpinned by digital. Self-described as “analogue at birth but digital by design”, Jackie advocates for the transformative power of tech to solve social problems. As head of the Telstra Foundation, Jackie manages a multi-million dollar community partner portfolio to improve social inclusion outcomes for young people in the areas of mental health; disability; digital making; cyber-safety; and remote, regional and Indigenous communities. Feminist, mother, geek, and grant-maker Jackie juggles many balls and tries hard not to drop the glass ones! Find out more at Telstra Foundation.

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