Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Youthrive Victoria

ProjectEstablishing and Strengthening the Macpherson Smith Rural Foundation (now called Youthrive Victoria)


Date2009, 2012 & 2014

ProgramOther Past Programs

This grant was approved under previous grants policy
Rural and regional Victoria Build a cohort of young people completing tertiary studies and returning to regional and rural Victoria as future leaders.
Building capacity Deliver the skills and capacities of young rural and regional individuals through a range of programs including: university scholarships, leadership network, mentoring, employment/work experience and research.
Extending opportunity Provide opportunities to potential rural leaders equal to their metropolitan peers.
Collaboration and partnership State and local governments, rural businesses and professional associations, other philanthropic foundations.

Strengthening rural communities by supporting, empowering and developing young people.

Youthrive Victoria has been the biggest initiative and largest financial commitment of HMSTrust and seeks to fulfil the Trust’s vision of a thriving, confident rural Victoria driven by inspiring leaders.

Image Participants in the Young Rural Leaders Program

Youthrive Victoria (originally called the Macpherson Smith Rural Foundation) was set up both to honour the heritage of Helen Macpherson Smith, whose family wealth came largely from the Victorian land, and to expand the Trust’s scope of giving in rural and regional Victoria through a foundation firmly embedded in the regional community.

In 2008 HMSTrust provided $5 million as a corpus towards the establishment of an independent, regional-based entity to fulfil the Trust’s vision of a thriving, confident rural Victoria driven by inspiring leaders. The corpus has been supported with additional funding towards the establishment of the Helen Macpherson Smith Rural Scholarship, both mentoring and future rural leaders’ programs, as well as operations. The programs attract the best and brightest young people who are committed to the viability of their communities.


  • Based in Creswick, Youthrive Victoria’s programs for scholarships, mentoring, career support, leadership development and networking have empowered over 100 of Victoria’s most promising young rural leaders. Typically they have been school captains or committee members of student representative bodies and sports clubs, have deep community involvement and are committed volunteers.
  • Robust network connections have been established with mentors and business leaders who have a strong interest in supporting young people, and Youthrive Victoria has partnered with rural leadership programs to deliver workshops for rural and regional community leaders on the benefits of youth mentoring.
  • Scholarship recipients have been awarded university scholarships of up to $10,000 a year for three years. All students are supported in their transition from school to university, and are committed to return to a rural Victorian community after graduation.



“There is an incredible strength in the network of committed young rural leaders right across Victoria. It’s made an enormous impact in regional communities in a short space of time, all enabled by the generosity of the Trust.” Pete Ekstedt, former Executive Officer.