Q&A with Lola Cowle
July 26, 2019 by Sara Redman
SRA would like to introduce you to Lola Cowle.
Lola is the Senior Executive Officer at the Tasmanian Community Fund (TCF). The Tasmanian Community Fund invests in and strengthens Tasmanian communities by providing grants to support community projects. We work closely with Lola and the TCF in implementing the Emerging Community Leaders Program.
We hope you enjoy learning a bit more about Lola!
Tell us about your role and what you do:
I’m the Senior Executive Officer at the Tasmanian Community Fund which means that I have the privilege of working with communities to help them achieve their goals.
What role does your organisation play in our community and what values does it promote?
The Tasmanian Community Fund (TCF) was established in 2000 following the sale of the Trust Bank. The TCF’s vision is vibrant Tasmanian communities that are capable and resilient in shaping their future.
The TCF invests in and strengthens Tasmanian communities by providing grants to support community projects. Each year the TCF invests around $6 million across the Tasmanian community. Everything from preserving jars at the local Neighbourhood House so that they can provide classes to community members through to larger program grants that support community organisations to tackle social problems including homelessness, violence, workforce engagement and preventative health.
To help organisations and communities reach their goals, the TCF also invests in leadership and capacity building. As part of this commitment, the TCF provided a grant to SRA Corporate Change to deliver the Emerging Community Leaders program in partnership with the TCF. We are currently in the third year of a five year commitment to the program that sees up to 24 participants per year build their skills self-leadership, leading others and leading the community.
The TCF values collaboration, community driven solutions, leadership, integrity, accountability and innovation.
What is something that you can tell us that people might not know about your organisation?
The TCF is governed by an independent Board who also determine where the money is invested across the community. Each Board member reads all the applications that the TCF receives (up to 500 a year).
The TCF recently celebrated the awarding of $100 million to the Tasmanian community and will celebrate its 20th birthday in 2020.
What excites you about the industry you work in?
Philanthropy and community development are incredibly rewarding and positive sectors to be part of.
Communities and individuals within them have a real passion for their own ideas and aspirations and it is often harnessing and supporting this passion that can bring positive outcomes for communities. This includes encouraging innovation and collaboration, sharing learning and maintaining a positive connection even when things don’t go according to plan.
I am constantly learning about Tasmania, about communities and about different areas of need. I’m also constantly learning about solutions and being inspired by individuals and organisations passion, dedication and investment that is making Tasmania a better place for all of us.
Can you tell us about one or two of your organisation’s success stories?
Nearly 10 years ago, the TCF identified that adult literacy and numeracy was a significant issue in Tasmania with nearly 50% of Tasmanians not having functional literacy. The TCF made a three year commitment to funding the Building Tasmania as a Learning Community grant program. Including a commitment to fund one long-term significant project.
There were a broad range and number of projects funded but the significant investment is really positive outcome. The TCF provided $1.5 million to Neighbourhood Houses Tasmania (NHT) for the Everyday Literacy project. This investment was way beyond anything that the TCF had provided at the time to any one organisation. The money was all provided to NHT upfront on the basis that it would be invested for the benefit of the community.
NHT were able to bring together a group of people to appropriately manage and invest the money provided. At the same time they were able to build a culture of literacy throughout the 35 Neighbourhood Houses in Tasmania and in-turn support and build literacy in their communities.
A little over 18 months ago, NHT approached the TCF to see if they could use the investment income to purchase a property. The TCF Board approved the purchase as it would provide a home base for NHT and that any rental income from the property would be invested in a Literacy Fund to continue the work of the Everyday Literacy project.
On a smaller scale, the TCF provided funding support to Tastex – a disability enterprise at Glenorchy that manufactures knitwear – to purchase a new embroidery machine. The machine, larger than their old machine and with greater and more diverse capability allowed Tastex to increase the number of employees (supported workers) and to diversify their product range. They are now manufacturing Envirowoolly® and DevilKnits® for the tourism market.
Please provide a link to your organisation’s webpage/social media so people know how to contact you: