The votes are in! After a two-week campaign that saw almost 8,700 votes cast from across Australia, the Pop Up Libraries project has been awarded the $50,000 Rural Hero Grant.
Rural Hero 2017 saw four charities pitching an innovative idea to help communities facing hardship via a short video posted on the Aussie Farmers Foundation website, with the community voting on their favourite project.
The final tally saw Pop Up Libraries win the Rural Hero grant this year with 2,925 votes. Focusing on small towns in Victoria’s North East, Wimmera Mallee and South West regions without library branches, up to 30 Pop Up libraries will be set up and stocked with a wide range of literature suitable for children of all ages; emphasising healthy eating, active lifestyles and promoting good health and wellbeing.
The Pop Up Libraries will be delivered by Reading out of Poverty, a charity helping Victorian children from disadvantaged communities discover the joy of reading.
Executive Officer Andrew Kay said easy access to children’s books in rural communities is often a challenge: “A child’s love and habit for reading in the early years will underpin their future success. One in four children struggle with their reading skills and if unaddressed, it can have a profound effect on their lives in later years.
“We know that books can play a vital role in educating children about their health and wellbeing and with the Rural Hero grant, we can provide books to 30 small towns without a public library, potentially reaching thousands of children.”
Aussie Farmers Foundation Executive Officer Julia Hunter said the Rural Hero grant has a dual purpose: to start a conversation about issues affecting country Australia and to actively support projects that make a difference to rural and regional communities in need.
“We’ve been blown away by the response of the community to Rural Hero and that is largely due to the engagement and excitement that the four organisations have been able to generate with their project ideas and voting campaigns.
“We are thrilled that Rural Hero has drawn attention to some of the challenges facing these communities and thank each charity for their hard work during the campaign.
“With lack of access to services a key issue facing country communities, Reading Out Of Poverty will take very important messages around healthy and active lifestyles to country kids via the concept of a Pop Up Library.
“We look forward to seeing the 30 Pop Up Libraries roll out to these small Victorian communities over the next year.”
Each project’s fundraising page will remain open until Thursday 7th September 2017 for donations and their videos will remain online.
Julia Hunter encouraged people to donate: “The organisations are doing so much to help Australians living in rural and remote communities and we encourage the community to dig deep and support their incredible efforts.”
Final Vote Tally
2925 votes – Pop Up Libraries
2424 votes – Outback Links Community Trips
2059 votes – Sir Ivan Bushfire
1276 votes – Hear our Heart Bus