Matana Foundation for Young People

The word “matana’ means gift in Hebrew. Karen Loblay’s Matana Foundation for Young People, a private ancillary fund (PAF), provides numerous gifts each year, to many worthwhile not-for-profit organisations. Under Karen’s guidance, with support from the board of directors, the foundation provides assistance to severely disadvantaged young people in Australia. Karen is particularly interested in helping young people to reach their full educational and social potential.

The impetus for forming the foundation (originally a PPF, privately prescribed fund, under the previous ATO structure), stemmed from the charity work the family were already doing in Sydney. In 1991, the Loblay family decided to purchase a property where homeless young people could be given a home while they were pursuing their personal and career life choices. Coincidentally, a boarding house became available for sale which was already being used as a refuge for homeless youth. Soon Vera Loblay House became known as a haven for the nurturing and caring of these vulnerable young people. In 2004, after Matana Foundation for Young People was established, the family decided to donate the property to the newly-formed foundation.

Karen and Matana Foundation have been supporting causes related to disadvantaged youth for over ten years. Many of these young people are some of the most vulnerable children in the community: homeless youth, children in juvenile detention, children who don’t fit into the education system. The foundation donates to a number of organisations, large and small. The size of the gifts vary, depending on the needs of the project.

One of the not-for-profits that Matana Foundation supports and Karen is passionate about is the Australian Children’s Music Foundation (ACMF). Matana funds ACMF to provide weekly Youth at Risk music programs. ACMF have conducted the workshops for the past ten years in 19 of the 21 Juvenile Justice Centres across Australia, including Juniperina at Lidcombe in Western Sydney, the only juvenile detention centre for females in Australia. The programs provide a bridge to connect with detainees, who have typically been disinterested, disillusioned, disengaged and disconnected in educational settings.

Matana Foundation feels that it is of the utmost importance that these young people have the resources to find their way out of poverty and to discover a sense of hope for their future. The experience often leads to a renewed interest in learning, including continuing with the study of music including music engineering and production at TAFE or local community colleges on their release.

Some of the other not-for-profits that Karen and Matana Foundation support are: The Shopfront Youth Legal Centre, Ways Youth Services, and Mission Australia.

It’s not an easy task to decide which organisations or projects to support, but when looking at grant applications, before making any funding decision, Karen asks herself a couple of key questions. “I keep going back to what are we trying to achieve? Is this project going to change this young person’s life, and what will be the effect if we don’t fund it?”

Matana Foundation also have a public website, which Karen feels is a great resource for connecting her with causes she wouldn’t otherwise know about. “Our website has brought us into contact with some of the smallest community organisations, whose work is invaluable to that community’s struggling young people.” You can find Matana Foundation for Young People at www.matanafoundation.org.au

Karen Loblay is Founder and Executive Officer of Matana Foundation for Young People. Karen was born and educated in Sydney, qualifying as an architect and working as such until joining the family’s property investment business in 1985. In 2003, Karen founded Matana Foundation for Young People to address the causes and consequences of youth disadvantage.