STARTED by two Canberra brothers wanting to help others, the Snow Foundation has turned into one of the country’s largest philanthropic funders, and this year celebrates more than 30 years of supporting worthy causes.
During its three-decades long association with community organisations and social entrepreneurs, the foundation has given $46 million in philanthropic donations.
From work to address the homelessness crisis to helping eliminate disease from the indigenous community in the NT, chief executive officer Georgina Byron said the foundation had made a difference to the lives of many.
“It’s been quite incredible to witness the impact that the foundation has made not just on the local Canberra region, but also beyond that to the south coast, to Sydney, and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” said Ms Byron.
“We have had some great success stories over the years working with people and organisations who are making a significant difference.”
Established by brothers Terry and George Snow, the foundation began in 1991 with a contribution of $1 million, and has continued to grow under the leadership of Ms Byron, Terry’s daughter, who took over the foundation in 2006.
“From the get-go the philosophy has always been if you see someone struggling you give them a helping hand, and that underpins all that we do,” Ms Byron said.
“Although we have blossomed into a national player it really goes back to giving people an opportunity, encouraging them to have self worth and giving them a lift up, particularly if they have passion and drive,” Ms Byron said.
With a corpus (permanent fund) of $144 million, the foundation has supported more than 400 organisations and 420 individuals, becoming one of the country’s largest philanthropic funders.
“I honestly never thought the foundation would grow to this extent,” Ms Byron said.
“To be able to work with people who want to give and who have big hearts has been the most rewarding experience. It’s an honour to lead the foundation.”
The Snow Foundation was built on the success of the Snow family’s business interests including the Canberra Airport and other developments, which has allowed them to donate generously to a great many causes.
In the early days, support focused on social welfare and disability programs, a number of whom the foundation still works with today.
Ms Byron said the foundation has expanded its reach focusing on social entrepreneurs and social justice issues through its Snow Entrepreneurs program.
The fellowship program offers mentoring assistance and grants of up to $100,000 for eight entrepreneurs who are one to three years into their career.
A recent recipient of a Snow Entrepreneurs grant is Joe Kwon, who is helping young offenders address the issue of recidivism through a program called Confit Pathways.
“Joe was in jail once upon a time but fortunately he met a mentor who encouraged him to get a job and an education,” Ms Byron said.
“He’s just about to get a degree, and he’s set up Confit Pathways, which is all about providing mentoring and fitness for young people in juvenile justice.”
“The program is incredible. It’s in six juvenile justice centres and they hope to get into Canberra, and are currently having discussions with the jail.”
While the Snow Foundation reached its 30-year milestone during the lockdown over the pandemic, Ms Byron feels now is the right time to celebrate the occasion.
“We had a fabulous event at Pialligo where 150 people gathered to celebrate Terry’s 30 years of giving, but it was also a time to celebrate all the great work that people in the community have been doing to make our community a better place,” Ms Byron said.
Despite the fact that her father has run a successful business, Ms Byron said he remains a down to earth and practical man who appreciates he is in a position to help others.
“He’s salt of the earth,” Ms Byron said.
“He loves spending time with real people in the community and he’s so committed to his work.
“Having a strong work ethic and persistence is something he admires in other people. He’s a good man.”
Who can be trusted?
In a world of spin and confusion, there’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in Canberra.
If you trust our work online and want to enforce the power of independent voices, I invite you to make a small contribution.
Every dollar of support is invested back into our journalism to help keep citynews.com.au strong and free.
Ian Meikle, editor