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Grow a Star

Grow a Star is an innovative, youth mentoring and scholarship program that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds overcome the financial or generational obstacles that are preventing them from following their dreams.

In households where finances are tight, young people often miss out on the sort of extra-curricular activities that play an important role in connecting people to their communities. Grow a Star encourages generational change by empowering young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to follow their academic, sporting or artistic dreams.

By enabling young people to pursue their passions, the program helps foster habits and behaviours that can set young people up for life.  The benefits of participating in Grow a Star are frequently far broader than the accomplishment of a participant’s short term goals. For many participants the mentoring on offer through the program represents the first time anyone outside their immediate family has demonstrated any sort of belief in their abilities and, even more  importantly, has shown them a genuine pathway  via which they can achieve their goals.

Since its launch in 2012, Grow a Star has assisted more than 360 young people to pursue their academic, sporting or artistic goals. 2019 marks Grow a Star's eighth anniversary and we produced another crop of great outcomes. Over the past year the program helped 73 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds follow their dreams.

Interested in applying? Then click on the link below and complete the Grow a Star Application Form.

We'd love to hear from you!

Grow a Star Application Form

Compass has recently expanded the award winning Grow a Star program thanks to a new partnership with Beyond Bank.

In households where money is tight, kids often miss out on the sort of extracurricular activities that most would simply take for granted. But these activities play an important role in connecting young people to their communities.

The Grow a Star Beyond Bank Scholarship will encourage generational change by empowering young people from low income families to follow their academic, sporting or artistic dreams.

Beyond Bank will provide $75,000 over three years to fund scholarships valued up to $2000. Scholarships are open to young people aged between 10 and 18 living in Community or Social housing properties in NSW.

Download the Beyond Bank Scholarship Guidelines and Application Form

The program encourages collaboration between other agencies and mentors – specifically support networks, sporting partners, government bodies as well as individual and corporate contributors.

You can donate to Grow a Star using the link below.


Look at Lucy shine!

As a young girl, Lucy endured a multitude of disadvantages, and as a result, she was home schooled for several years. This impacted significantly on her confidence and social interaction with her peers.
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When Lucy came to Grow a Star in 2014, she was a very shy 12 year old, with dreams of one day becoming a professional musician. Suffering from an anxiety disorder, was one of several barriers she needed to navigate before she could even contemplate performing in front of crowds.

Through the Grow a Star program, Lucy was sponsored to attend a local music school, The Rock God Music School, where she attended singing lessons once a week. It wasn’t long before her talent was recognised and she was asked to join three other girls and form a group.

She went on to perform at several small events in her local area as both a soloist and with the group. Lucy has made lifelong friends through this journey and her parents have witnessed a change in her confidence and demeanour along the way.

Over the past five years Lucy has worked tirelessly on her singing and this has taken her from that shy 12 year old to a very confident 17 year old young woman who fronts her own music band, has released a number of songs on social media platforms and has supported major overseas acts performing in front of large crowds in major Sydney live venues.

Recently, Grow a Star nominated Lucy for the Channel 7 NSW/ACT Young Achievers Award. She was one of 4 finalists in the Award Category: QPRC Performing Arts Award. Lucy was invited to attend a gala awards night at Doltone House in Sydney on 20th March 2020 before COVID-19 struck. The awards were streamed online on the 11th September, and although Lucy did not win the category, it was a great achievement to make the final four.

Lucy is currently studying for a Certificate in Sound Production and Lighting.

Krystal's Confidence

Grow a Star funding opened a number of doors and brought an unexpected opportunity for an aspiring netballer.
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Grow a Star funding has opened a number of doors and brought an unexpected opportunity for an aspiring netballer.

Krystal Dallinger had not long relocated to Newcastle from her hometown of Dubbo when she became a recipient of Compass Housing’s Grow a Star program. The former Hunter Sports High student says she and her mum had to leave a lot behind when they came to live with her grandmother.

A keen netballer, Krystal was identified for the Hunter Academy of Sport’s program.

“The Grow a Star funding was big for my mum and I,” Krystal says. “It allowed me to put myself out there to develop my netball skills through the Academy and then Australian netballer Sam Poolman’s Aspire Netball program,”

Krystal is enjoying a gap year after successfully completing her HSC in 2019. She’s currently working and spending a lot of time at the gym as she is playing for Central Coast Heart in the Metro League Comp. She is planning on starting her own art business this year and has recently become a mentor for Hunter Academy Sport squad athletes participating in the Aspire Program.

Lleyton's Grand Slam

Lleyton is a humble kid but he has big dreams. His goal is to start playing International Tennis Federation junior tournaments then to take on the tennis world.
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Lleyton picked up a racquet and found his passion for tennis when he was 10 years old.

Soon after, Lleyton and his mum Lisa relocated from Gloucester to Newcastle in NSW, to help Lleyton access coaching without having to drive many hours each week. It has been tough financially for Lisa to fund the coaching, equipment, tournament fees and travel costs associated with top level tennis.

The Grow a Star program helped Lleyton enrol in a training program that has made a world of difference to Lleyton’s game and enabled him to develop the strength to compete against older players. “If it wasn’t for Grow a Star I would have never have got started with that conditioning program; I just couldn’t afford it” said Lleyton.

A highlight for Lleyton was when he received a personal letter from Aussie tennis legend Ken Rosewall. At 14, Lleyton had won the medal named after the eight times Grand Slam singles winner. He was selected as best and fairest from 241 players in the Inter-district league in Sydney. Lleyton won every match; he didn’t drop a set.

2019 was a busy year for Lleyton, winning awards from the Hunter Academy of Sport for Most Outstanding Male Athlete in an Individual Sport, Hunter Blues Sports Award (Top 8 in State for Tennis), Lambton High School’s Tennis Player of the Year, Athletics Age Champion and Cross-Country Age Champion.

2020 will see Lleyton complete his HSC and he is settling into the routine of creating balance between study and sports. He is very motivated after this year’s Australian Open and is focusing on increasing his intensity program with his coach at Newcastle’s Innovate - Sports Specific Conditioning.

Look out for Lleyton, he could well be starring in Australian and international tennis tournaments in the very near future.

Emily's Olympic Dream

Emily is a determined young woman who is battling a number of physical and mental health issues. She is also a strong swimmer who dreams of competing at the Olympics.
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Emily is a determined young woman who is battling a number of physical and mental health issues. She is also a strong swimmer who dreams of competing at the Olympics.

Grow a Star stepped in when Emily’s family was struggling to cover the costs of the squad training sessions.

“My favourite thing in the whole wide world is swimming. It makes me feel happy. I would like to swim in the Olympics and be a star, but I know I have to train very hard. We were going to drop swimming because of the cost, but Grow a Star helped us. That makes me feel happy and excited.”

Swimming has been of enormous benefit to Emily’s confidence and fitness and now, thanks to Grow a Star, her Olympic dream remains alive and well. 

Helping Kaleb Rock

Kaleb started playing the drums as a way to help overcome his social anxiety and to build self-confidence.
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“I started out with group lessons then moved to one on one. I really liked the drums best because I’m shy and didn’t like being out in front,” Kaleb said.

"Grow a Star has helped me a lot to stay here. My family has had trouble with money. It really makes me happy to come here.” Kaleb’s grandmother Carolyn said that Rosie's School of Rock (where Kaley gets his lessons) had been incredibly important to him as it was the one part of his life that was completely his own.

“Both Kaleb and his older brother live with autism. With his older brother being quite unwell, a lot of the family’s energy is focused on him” Carolyn said.

“It was really important that Kaleb had something just for him, to make him the focus of attention. He has a love of music and Rosie's was the obvious place to come. Rosie's has helped develop Kaleb's confidence and his feeling of self-worth has improved.

None of it would have been possible without the assistance of Grow a Star.” Thanks to Grow a Star and Rosie’s School of Rock, Kaleb’s self-confidence has grown to the point that he has joined a band and is now comfortable performing in public.

Tayla's Talent

Tayla is one of Grow a Star's inaugural Queensland recipients. She is a gifted 12-year old whose love of sport and can-do attitude have helped her cope with a very challenging start in life.
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Before moving into a Compass Housing property in Brisbane, Tayla, and her family had been through a tumultuous period which saw the family in constant turmoil and bouncing back and forth between refuges and outright homelessness.

However, homelessness hasn’t blunted Tayla’s passion for life and for sport. 

Tayla is currently completing year six and while she loves to play a range of sport she has a special talent for both soccer and futsal. Despite only playing for 12 months, Tayla’s natural skills have led to her selection in the Queensland City Futsal Team which is set to compete in the National Futsal Championships to be held in Brisbane this September.

Unfortunately, due to her family’s financial constraints it was likely Tayla wouldn’t be able to take part in the tournament. But thanks to Compass Housing’s Grow a Star program, Tayla’s family will receive the financial assistance they need to allow her to play and show what a champion she really is.

Kaitlyn's Passion

Kaitlyn is one of Grow a Star's inaugural Queensland recipients. She is a charming and talented 13-year old who has many talents and thanks to targeted assistance, will be able to continue doing what she loves.
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Kaitlyn has endured real hardship in her short life. Despite being displaced from her family home over a decade ago, she is a resilient, accomplished and outgoing young woman with a bubbly personality. 

A gifted and passionate singer Kaitlyn was selected to join the Australian Girls’ Choir in 2017. She was quickly identified as talented and received an Outstanding Potential Award and a nomination for more intensive work after touring with the choir for a few months, however she was forced to withdraw from the choir due to her family’s financial circumstances.

Thanks to targeted assistance from Compass Housing’s Grow a Star program, Kaitlyn was able to re-enrol in the choir and continue to pursue her dream of singing professionally. 

In late October 2017, she auditioned with hundreds of others and was ultimately selected to join the choir on a three-week tour across America. During the tour, the girls were hosted with choirs and schools and were involved in 24 performances and workshops. Travelling to destinations including San Francisco, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Palm Springs and Los Angeles, the cultural and performance experiences were many and varied. 

These days, Kaitlyn lives with her family in a Compass Housing property in Brisbane and is currently completing year ten. In addition to her singing prowess, Kaitlyn is a talented writer and has scripted short stories and poems that have had interest from local publishers. She is also heavily involved in musical theatre.

Suzie's Way

In 2013, a group of three young teenagers received contributions under the Grow A Star program for their band ‘Suzie’s Way’.
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At the time the talented group aged in years from 14, 15 and 17 years resided in Compass homes on the NSW Central Coast.

Through the funding allocated to the Grow a Star program, each member of the band received a tuition grant from Compass to assist them with developing their musical talents. Additionally, the whole group received an equipment grant so they could purchase a PA system which has enabled them to perform live at events.

After working together for 18 months, they started performing live on numerous occasions, which lead to a number of booked performances. Through the Grow a Star program, Compass will continue to support the band as they develop and will continue to encourage and support other young Compass tenants to follow their dreams in whatever field they choose.

Photo: Suzie on lead vocals, Jordan on keyboard and Matena on guitar and vocals.

Brianna's A Star

Brianna is a smart, vibrant and focused young lady living in a Compass property on the NSW Central Coast. She dreams of one day being a political journalist, and through the Grow a Star program, Compass was able to supply her with a laptop and Spanish tutoring.
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After receiving the assistance from Compass, Brianna’s Spanish grades improved, and with the help of the computer laptop Brianna sat within the top 5-10% of students in each of her classes at her Secondary College.

In 2014 a highlight of Brianna’s journey was the opportunity that Compass provided in bringing Brianna in contact with NSW State Member Chris Spence MP, who will host Brianna at NSW Parliament House for a meet and greet and for question time. An amazing opportunity for any young aspiring political journalist. Brianna has also received a $2000 scholarship from Housing NSW under their Youth Scholarship Grant.

We are delighted to report that since completing her HSC, Brianna has enrolled and is currently studying Communications at Macquarie University in Sydney. Brianna commutes to Sydney to attend university whilst providing continued support to her mother. 

Mundi's Story of Success

Mundinarra (Mundi) is a talented soccer player with the big dream of playing professionally. She gained the attention of a talent scout who invited her to play in the US, and with the help of the GROW A Star program, can now see her dream becoming a reality.
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Mundinarra (Mundi) is a tenant of Compass, and lives with her mother. While playing soccer at representative level on the Central Coast, she gained the attention of the National Scouting Report, a large scouting organisation that identifies talented athletes to send to US colleges on scholarships. Marketing these talented athletes to US colleges costs money though, money that Mundi and her mum didn’t have. That’s where Compass stepped in with the GROW A Star program. Through this initiative, Compass was able to financially assist Mundi to pursue her dream.

“I’ve played soccer all my life… I never thought I’d get somewhere with it”, Mundi reflected.

Holding back tears of gratitude Mundi’s mother Robyn thanked Compass, “If they weren’t out there, she wouldn’t have had this opportunity so we really appreciate that”.

International Aspirations

Lilliana's dream is to one day become an international model. When she was to be invited to Sydney to attend a modelling course and compile her portfolio, Compass was able to assist with the costs involved that her family had no way of covering.
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Llilliana was modelling at a local shopping centre when an agency scout from a large Sydney firm noticed her. This agency offered her the opportunity to study at their school for two years, and enhance her opportunities to move into the fashion industry.

Unfortunately, Lilliana’s family could not afford to take this offer up due to ongoing family challenges - however Lilliana’s grandmother saw that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and submitted an application to Grow A Star.

With the help of Compass, Lilliana who is now in year 11, can now travel to Sydney fortnightly to study and has now been able to put together a modelling portfolio. Her dreams of being a professional model are now within sight thanks to the program and support of her family.

At a relatively young age, Lilliana has made a huge commitment with undertaking regular travel and training on top of her studies at school. At the end of the program she will have achieved a Certificate II in Business, a Statement of Attainment in Networking, a Statement of Attainment in Deportment, as well as valuable modelling experience.

Compass and the Grow A star program are extremely proud to support Lilliana. 

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