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Media Release: Harness Projects & Head Start Homes

Education and industry team up to improve financial literacy for people living in community housing

The future of learning and work is rooted in creative collaborations that make meaningful impacts on the world around us. This is particularly true when two organisations, who are pushing the boundaries of innovation in their respective fields, come together in a collaboration to improve the lives of people in need. 

Harness Projects’ latest partnership is with Head Start Homes – a not for profit with a ‘never been done before’ solution that provides a pathway into home ownership for community housing tenants who can afford home loan repayments but who are locked out due to the need for a large deposit and mortgage insurance.  The project provided the opportunity for 12 upskilling professionals to learn UX design, while creating a digital solution for Head Start Homes to empower families living in community housing with improved financial literacy.

Founder and Managing Director of Head Start Homes, Stephen Woodlands, knows that much of their future reach relies on scaling their life literacy program through digital experiences that empower their customers with the confidence and knowledge to access home ownership.

“Financial capacity is a big focus of our work. Increasing financial literacy and knowledge around the process of obtaining a mortgage is really important for our applicants. We want to have a tool available to community housing tenants that is scalable, and that doesn’t depend on 1:1 coaching yet remains effective at equipping and upskilling people; a gamified tool that is engaging and builds confidence. This is where Harness Projects is providing incredible value here at Head Start Homes.”

Harness Projects is a unique and rapidly expanding education company that helps adult professionals upskill or transition their career into User Experience design by collaborating on real world business challenges.  Company partners (like Head Start Homes) who are seeking solutions to digital design challenges, provide a project brief that the students focus on while developing the necessary technical and attitudinal skills required to be successful UX designers. Each student group of 12 is mentored by a Senior / Head of UX from industry who guides them along the journey and ensures that the company is receiving creative solutions for consideration and implementation on their business road map.

“Our partnership with Harness Projects has been so exciting. The students bought such passion to their work, and some incredibly creative thinking has gone into their work. The solutions proposed are a game changer to the way we view financial learning and access to finance.”

Harness Projects co-founders Chris Ventura and Mike O’Brien are focused on ensuring that both the students and companies get great outcomes from the project experience.

“Harness Projects was born with the aim of bridging the gap between education and employment. By delivering real world project experiences to our students, we can leverage the power of the learning market to solve some of society’s most important challenges. Our company partners have provided some incredible design challenges for our students to tackle. And the students have come away with rewarding learning experiences that have helped them to land jobs in the industry.”

For students, the experience of learning on projects with not-for-profits like Head Start Homes as well as social impact initiatives within global organisations like Qantas and IKEA, help to build out their portfolio and CV of real world experiences needed to secure employment.

“Our graduates walk away with incredible confidence in their future in UX design.  Because they are in a team of 12, not a large classroom setting of 30 or more, they feel empowered by the one on one attention they get from their mentor.  They also develop a level of confidence that can only come from collaborating with and pitching their solutions to real clients like Stephen at Head Start Homes.  Our students are adult professionals leading busy lives, so the ability to learn in a flexible way and get real world experience at the same time is also very appealing to them.”

The modern workforce is evolving at a rapid pace. With advancements in technology and further casualisation of full time roles we’re seeing an increase in career switchers seeking roles to future proof their careers.These adult learners are not looking to go back to textbooks and lecture halls.  By uniting with industry on initiatives like Head Start Homes, education stands a much better chance at being fit for purpose for the demands of the modern workforce and society at large. At Harness Projects, to have much of that learning time and energy focused on growing the influence of social impact organisations and initiatives is, for them, what it’s all about.