Company gives big to public education

A CANBERRA company has donated $1.4 million to schooling in the ACT – one of the largest private contributions to public education in the territory’s history.

The Academy of Interactive Entertainment – a private educator for the 3D animation, game development and visual effects industries – will this Friday officially launch the philanthropic program at Hawker College.

The $1.4 million, made up of a combination of cash grants and AIE scholarships, will be split across nine Canberra colleges over the coming decade.
The first round of recipients will be announced at Friday’s launch.

Canberra entrepreneurs John De Margheriti and Steve Wang decided to establish the benefaction after attending the Hawker College class of 1980 30th reunion celebrations.

Since graduating from the ACT public school system, they have become innovators in the computer gaming and software development industries.
Mr Wang said they wanted to give back to the school that helped them on the road to success.

”We decided that we really wanted to put something substantial back into the public education system, so that we can encourage the kids coming through now to be able to tackle their own impossibly wonderful projects and turn them into their future careers,” Mr Wang said.

”If even one student, or group of students, start up a micro business that grows into something more, then our investment will have been worth every cent.”
The donation program isn’t the first investment in the ACT’s youth by the AIE.

Earlier this year, the education institution unveiled an incubator program to help AIE graduates start their own business.

Mr De Margheriti, the AIE chairman, said the funds were a private investment in the future innovators and business people of the ACT and Australia.

Mr De Margheriti challenged other successful Canberrans to support the school systems that gave them the tools for success.

”The donation we are making to Canberra government colleges, while probably the largest private donation in Canberra’s history, can easily be topped by other local Canberrans who have also done well financially,” he said.

”Private individuals need to get behind public education as it’s the starting point for so many people. We need to encourage our young dreamers to take risks and boldly strive to achieve their dreams. We all need to help them get there, as we all benefit as a result.”

ACT Education Minister Chris Bourke applauded the generosity.

“It is significant that these grants for innovation are the initiative of two very talented and successful entrepreneurs who are graduates of the ACT public school system,” Dr Bourke said.
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