Teaching Initiatives Program

Bank First Community Fund

What is the Teaching Initiatives Program?

As a customer-owned bank created by 48 educators back in 1972, we know exactly how important education is. Through our interactions with our Members, we see every day that teachers are passionate about what they do and always put their students first.

That’s why we’re here to put you first. We know that it can be difficult to fund your brilliant education initiatives, so we created our Teaching Initiatives Program for you.

Our Teaching Initiatives Program (TIP), supported by our Community Fund, supports Victorian schools and preschools to achieve their goals, and encourage excellence in education. TIP aims to help provide education staff with the much-needed funding to bring innovative education initiatives to life.

Starting in 1993, the Teaching Initiatives Program has provided over $700,000 in funding. In 2021, we provided the grant recipients with a share of $30,000 to enhance student learning.

People’s choice winner of 2021

Congratulations to Ferntree Gully North Primary School for their ‘Mottainai Waste Project’, which was voted the favourite initiative for 2021.

People’s choice winner of 2021

Grant recipients of 2021

Congratulations to the 2021 grant recipients! This year grants were awarded for a range of initiatives including a wetlands discovery and sustainability project, a garden kitchen and the creation of a de-stress zone to foster improved student learning. Check out the winning entries for 2021 below.

  • Bendigo Senior Secondary College/ NETschool

    Feeding Connection Program

    The Karen gardening and cooking project will engage NETschool and Bendigo Secondary College students in a collaborative project in conjunction with the Gravel Hill community garden to grow vegetables used in Karen cooking.

    Karen people work with students and help them learn how to cook Karen food, and in the process, enhance the learning done by students about Karen people, culture and history.

    Students will start by researching what vegetables to grow during winter, and which vegetables are used in Karen cooking then by engagement with staff at the Community garden and Karen people, including a cook.

    Students’ learning will be significantly enhanced by real-world contact and they will apply their learning to cooking healthy meals and producing a short film, podcasts, blogs and cookbook about their experience. Sustainability and Engagement with Asia are learning criteria that will be met as well as a number of VCAL tasks.

  • Berry Street School

    Berry Street School Environmental Wetlands Discovery and Sustainability Project

    The Berry Street School Environmental Wetlands Discovery and Sustainability Project is for students to be able to access all areas of the Goulburn Valley wetlands especially Reedy Swamp and Goulburn River.

    The students will use stand up paddle craft to increase water access, which will allow students to construct wildlife habitat, and place it in inaccessible areas, remove rubbish, observe and record wildlife, conduct indigenous studies, outdoor art creation, facilities maintenance, and assist with obnoxious weed/pest removal.

  • Box Hill North Primary School and Kindergarten

    One Box

    Box Hill North is committed to making a sustainable difference for its local community through the education of sustainable practices. Our initiative 'One Box', will see students propagate and grow organic food to harvest for those in less fortunate positions.

    One Box is designed to educate our students about sound sustainable practices while adding value to our local community.

  • Bulleen Heights School

    De-Stress Zone

    Bulleen Heights School is a school for students on the Autism Spectrum. To implement effective instructional programs, it’s necessary to first focus on managing behaviours that interfere with learning. We need to teach students how to recognise when their anxiety levels are rising and learn strategies on how to self-regulate.

    The Bank First Teaching Initiatives Program grant, will provide our students with resources to populate an area where students can come to take a break from the noise or business of the classroom, to regain calm and control, and return to the learning program in the classroom.

  • Bundarra Primary School

    Dhauwurd Wurrung Language Resources

    Ngata! The Gunditjmara Culture and Language in Schools Project (GCLS) is in need of Quality Indigenous Language Resources.

    The GCLS Project links indigenous culture to local language within seven Portland schools. We've collaboratively worked on this for almost two years, developing our GCLS team. Links with Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owner Aboriginal Corporation, WindaMara, Dhauwurd Wurrung Elderly & Community Health Service Inc. have been inspirational.

    The Gunditjmara/ Dhauwurd Wurrung community is currently embarking on a vital language reclamation journey, of which our schools are fortunately involved.

    A curriculum linking Victorian Aboriginal Languages standards to Arts, Geography, History, PE and Science has been created, with Professional Learning for staff (teachers and Education Support) provided. We would like to extend and improve our teaching and learning resources with Language Cards.

    Thanks for the opportunity to make a difference in our community!

  • Doncaster Primary School

    Aboriginal Cultural Incursion

    Doncaster Primary School wants to bring authentic learning into our classrooms! We would love to expose our multicultural students to a unique Aboriginal cultural experience.

    The facilitators use song, dance, storytelling and artefacts to engage the children, and consolidate their learning about Aboriginal culture.

    Students will develop a greater understanding and an appreciation for why Aboriginal culture is so important to Australia. Through this understanding, we hope to see a development of empathy, compassion and reconciliation.

  • Drouin Secondary College


    Life Skills is an invitation-only subject that is offered to students in Years 8-10 who require additional support with the skills required to live and operate confidently and safely within our community.

    There are a variety of reasons that a kid gets an invitation to join this class: disability, behaviour disorder, trauma, neglect, general high needs.

    Kids will learn independent living skills, real-life literacy and numeracy skills, teamwork, how to fill out forms, ICT skills, develop social skills, personal hygiene, safe relationships, healthy lifestyles, getting a job, staying safe online, working with money, filling in forms and posting letters, managing time, goal setting, working with others, emotional literacy, getting around town and beyond, handling money and cooking.

  • Ferntree Gully North Primary School

    Mottainai Waste Project

    Ferntree Gully North Primary School believes that the actions students take at school will influence the wider community’s beliefs and behaviour about sustainability.

    The ‘Mottainai Waste Project’ will allow students to explore the issue of landfill and search for solutions that are related to the waste they create as an individual, as a class and as a school.

    The Japanese word Mottainai conveys a sense of regret over waste with the exclamation "Mottainai!" translating as "What a waste!" Students will learn about the 5 r’s of the Mottainai: reduce, recycle, reduce, respect and refuse and apply this to find solutions to the landfill they create.

    Introducing a whole school system of waste sorting will support students in reducing landfill and increase recycling and re-use of items. This whole-school approach sends a message about the importance of sustainability and allows students to experience the empowerment that comes with taking action by changing what you do.

  • Gisborne Primary School

    Learning Italian with Subtitles

    An effective language program incorporates a model which uses the target language for the learners as well as high-interest content and unforced learning. The teacher using the Italian language provides the model while technology can be used as a tool to assist with engaging the students.

    The initiative is to use technology to enable the students to see the teacher’s spoken Italian appearing on a PowerPoint presentation in real-time. As well as engaging the class in general, it would also capture students whose learning style is visual, or who perhaps may have audio processing or hearing difficulties. Captions also provide an opportunity to do additional reading in an unforced, fun and novel way. Students will use the same technology to caption and record their own spoken Italian.

    Studies in second language acquisition evidence that the learner’s first language literacy skills are enhanced by the learning of a second language. The benefits are mutual for students’ English literacy outcomes as well as their acquisition of Italian.

  • Greater Shepparton Secondary College

    GSSC Regenerative Agriculture Education Project

    "A Sense of Humus" is an elective unit running at the Year 9 Campus of GSSC in Semester 2 2021 that is about Regenerative Agriculture, an approach to healing our depleted soils, sequestering carbon and water, drought-proofing the land, producing healthier nutrient-dense food, making more money from fewer inputs and helping to reverse climate change. Important aspects of this unit are for students to visit regeneratively operated farms and orchards so they can see and hear first-hand from the managers what is involved.

    In addition, we would like to build our own portable compost bin, worm farm and wicking garden beds in order for students to put their knowledge and skills into practice.

  • Hamlyn Views School

    Garden Kitchen Program

    A Kitchen Garden Program will provide highly engaging and authentic learning opportunities for students to develop their understanding of sustainability and where food comes from, while also working on academic, social and living skills. This program provides our students with invaluable skills, giving our students the best possibility of living an independent life, becoming functioning community members and developing skills that could assist them in potentially gaining supported employment in the future.

  • Huntly Primary School

    Adjustable Learning Environments

    Huntly Primary School wants our students with additional needs, such as our aboriginal students, to be allowed agency. Using these resources we can allow them to control their learning spaces and not be disadvantaged by their needs to move, be outside, work on the floor, or learn through physically doing.

    The priority is to cater for students' various needs because "one size doesn't fit all" when it comes to learning spaces. I want these students to have just as much opportunity to learn as their peers. It's about creating equity within students' learning and making sure that they feel cared for and important.

  • Kalianna School

    Kalianna Shakespeare Residench

    Kalianna Special School Bendigo and Bell Shakespeare Theatre Company are collaborating to provide students from Bendigo with their first taste of William Shakespeare.

    This project aims to bring the amazing performers and facilitators from Australia's premier Shakespeare Theatre Company to Bendigo to work with our amazing students to produce a performance of Shakespeare like the world has never seen.

  • Leitchville Primary School

    Leitchville Primary School Kitchen Garden & Playgroup

    At Leitchville Primary School we work hard to maintain a sense of community amongst our students. This project, of revitalising our ageing vegetable gardens, chicken coop and native plantation helps our students to give back to the community whilst also giving students an opportunity to invite the community into our school and spend time together, working on meaningful projects.

    Our hope is that this space becomes a community asset and a loved contribution to our school groups.

  • Middle Park Primary School

    Bush Tucker Garden

    To create an authentic Bush Tucker Garden and connect students to Aboriginal culture. The children will be involved in the planning, design and creation of the edible Indigenous garden, as well as the ongoing maintenance and harvesting of the produce.

    The project will enable our students to develop a stronger connection to the environment and their food supply, as well as educate them on Aboriginal culture and history, the life cycle of native plants and biodiversity.

  • Ouyen P-12 College


    The Mallee Education Cluster will be collaborating to create a Decathlon for the schools in the rural Mallee area to showcase their skills and build relationships.

    Students will participate and compete in activities including Debating, Public Speaking, sporting events, Mathematics, STEAM challenges, Humanities quizzes, Spelling Bees, Performing Arts, Jeopardy-style games and more.

    The day will develop interpersonal skills and relationships for these three small schools to showcase that everybody has talents and contributions to make to a team, which deserve to be celebrated.

    Staff, students and the broader community will benefit from the collaborative nature of the event, as an end of year celebration of all the talents that these rural schools can develop and foster, and create a project that the students would otherwise never have the chance to be a part of, due to their isolation and distance from cities and other schools.

  • Watsonia Primary School

    Step Around Australia Challenge

    As technology use increases we have seen a decrease in the motivation for students to be pulled away from the screens to become involved in physical activity.

    Instead of pulling kids away from technology, we at Watsonia Primary School are aiming to combine them with the Watsonia Primary School Step around Australia Fit Bit activity challenge. With the purchase of a class set of Fitbits, we plan to revolutionise the motivation for students to get active.

    We already have our weekly whole school aerobics sessions but now we can keep track of our weekly steps and add this to our whole school chart to get us all moving and healthy!