You are here:

About Youthrive Victoria

The Rural Foundation (A Legacy of Helen Macpherson Smith), trading as Youthrive Victoria, has a vision that Victorian regional and rural communities will be thriving with strong input from skilled, resilient and motivated young people.

Formerly known as Macpherson Smith Rural Foundation (MSRF), Youthrive Victoria was created in 2008 with an establishment grant of $5 Million from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust (HMSTrust), an independent philanthropic trust created by the late Helen Macpherson Schutt (nee Smith).  This visionary grant, the biggest ever given by HMSTrust, is now honoured in the use of the tagline ‘A legacy of Helen Macpherson Smith.’

We seek to fulfil our purpose “To build capacity within rural communities by further developing the skills and capabilities of young rural people, enabling them to make a significant contribution,” by delivering a range of contemporary services & programs tailored to the needs and expectations of rural communities.

In 2011 MSRF awarded its first scholarships to support young rural people going to university. The mentoring program was established in the same year and the Young Rural Leaders program was first held in 2012. In 2015 the Chris and Marli Tilley Stawell Scholarship was established. In 2016 the Dream Seeds® program for Year 6 students was developed and the Alumni Committee was elected. In 2017 Rural Chances vocational scholarships were introduced. The Community Leader Scholarships and Wrap Around Care packages were developed in 2018.

In 2018 MSRF celebrated a decade of supporting young rural Victorians through scholarships, mentoring, leadership development and community connections. In 2019, to mark the new decade, new directions and independence, MSRF became Youthrive Victoria. The company name is The Rural Foundation Ltd.

2019 saw Youthrive Victoria Alumni members Nick Young, Jackie Cooper, Molly Copeland, Laura Bland and others conceptualise the Branch Out Mentoring program to support rural students in Year 11 and 12.  

In 2020, the Rural Youth Network was developed to create a new blended type of community, where rural young people can have the best of their local communities and social networks combined with online support and opportunities that can be provided by extensive online connections. 

2021 saw the first iteration of the Branch Out Mentoring program successfully piloted at Brauer College Warrnambool. Dream Seeds and Young Rural Leaders Programs were run online as a result of COVID-19 challenges, though the participants still gained great value from the experiences. 

Stepping into 2022, Youthrive Victoria’s Rural Youth Network has grown to over 300 online members. The employment of five RYN Engagement Leaders through funding from H & L Hecht Trust and VicHealth greatly assisted us with our goals of engaging young people through our varying programs. 

In 2023, over 5000 young people were engaged in in-person events with the help of our team of Rural Engagement Leaders, and more than 20 schools were engaged through Branch Out Mentoring.  

Our Principles

  • Input from young people is highly valued and sought
  • Programs will prioritise peer to peer delivery (e.g. common lived experience, rurality, demographic)
  • We seek equity of access and understand there are barriers facing rural young people
  • Life in rural communities is to be promoted and celebrated
  • We can contribute to the communities in which we work and visit
  • Holistic approaches are required to meet the needs of individuals and communities, and
  • Environmental sustainability is central to everything we do.

Our Values

Youthrive Victoria is distinguished by the following beliefs, principles and behaviours:

  • Connection with place, people, and community
  • Learning & growing to reach and exceed potential
  • Empowering all to be their best
  • Respect for individuals, communities, and the environment, and
  • Leading by fostering and encouraging positive leadership.

2024-25 Strategies

1. Facilitating entry to and completion of post-secondary education

2. Building individual capacity to thrive and connect

3. Inspiring aspiration through peer-to-peer role modelling

4. Ensuring organisational sustainability through growth

5. Knowing and sharing our intent and success

Our Purpose

To build capacity within rural communities by further developing the skills and capabilities of young rural people, enabling them to make a significant contribution.

Our Vision & Mission

Victoria’s rural communities will continue to thrive through their skilled, resilient, and engaged young people.

Youthrive Victoria will collaborate with partners, donors, communities, and alumni to provide programs and services to young rural Victorians in their communities, and when they are engaging in further education or training.

Want to find out more?

Keep in touch with the latest news