Leaving a legacy: Swinburne Philanthropy Social Impact Alumni

In 2004, one of the first intakes of students at Swinburne University’s Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy (ACSI) hatched a plan to put the theory they had learnt during their course, into practice.

Their initial goal was to set up a philanthropic fund to give students the opportunity to consider and act on how philanthropy can make a meaningful contribution to the community.

An alumni group (Swinburne Philanthropy Alumni) was officially formed as part of the process, and sixteen years on their legacy remains with the newly named Swinburne Philanthropy Social Impact Alumni (SPSIA) group.

“We were originally started by one of the first intakes of students in the philanthropy program, and their motivation was around thinking through the challenges of giving to the community sector in real terms,” explains Carolyn Munckton, a Centre for Social Impact Swinburne (CSI Swinburne) alumnas who works with The Funding Network and is a current committee member of SPSIA.

“The group then progressed to organising networking events with guest speakers from the sector and it was an opportunity for past and current students to come together, with the goal of fundraising too.”

In the years since, CSI Swinburne was established (in 2014) and the growing alumni network have offered student scholarships and held various events and guest lectures for the network.

Current SPSIA committee members include Carolyn Munckton, Julia Keady, Katie Hunt and Susan Smith.

“Being part of a network of exceptional human beings has shown me what is possible when we stay connected,” says Julia Keady, a CSI Swinburne alumnas, founder of The Xfactor Collective and SPSIA committee member.

“We are a community of changemakers who give of ourselves every single day to support and advance our sector, champion many causes and work passionately for a safer more equitable world. Supporting each other is very important.”

Paying it forward

The committed and central group of SPSIA members plan to continue to grow the alumni network with a focus on supporting future CSI students and furthering social impact. 

“We are the only alumni of our kind to have a $100,000+ sub-fund where we actively support other up and coming students. It has been a privilege to be part of this group, and important to see it fostered and grow into the future,” says Julia.

“Our scholarships have always recognised both need and impact. We want to support those who want to make an impact in the sector, so they have what they need to thrive and excel into the future.”

This year, the alumni group are re-focusing their scholarships on current CSI students impacted by COVID-19. With the support of the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation two $6,000 scholarships were offered to CSI Swinburne students currently enrolled in the Masters of Social Impact or the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact, intending to articulate to the Masters course.

The purpose of these scholarships is to alleviate some of the financial burden associated with studying.

In honour of Dr Christopher Baker

In 2021, the SPSIA will offer a new $10,000 Christopher Baker Memorial Scholarship to a student commencing their Master of Social Impact at Swinburne University.

“Christopher was passionate about how structured philanthropy can contribute to creating a better world. He oozed integrity, warmth, generosity and had a cheeky wit. He was fun to be around and you could be confident that he would always have your back,” says Carolyn.

“We’re thrilled to be able to offer this new scholarship.”

Christopher completed a postgraduate degree at the ACSIP in 2005 and then went on to complete a PhD and become an Adjunct Research Fellow. Prior to his academic career he worked across the not-for-profit, public and private sectors as a senior leader and consultant.

In mid-2020, Christopher sadly passed away.

“Our scholarship is a fitting tribute to Christopher and his long association with Swinburne. It will keep his name and connection alive so that we can all continue to remember him and his important work in the philanthropic sector,” says Carolyn.