The role of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys in North Queensland was taken to a whole new level today when club CEO Greg Tonner announced the establishment of the Cowboys Community Foundation.

A registered charity, the Foundation will draw together a number of education-based community programs that the club has previously run itself.

“While the Cowboys Community Foundation is a new venture for us, we’ve been working on it for over a year,” Mr Tonner said. 

“Our community programs and initiatives have always been a huge part of the life of the club. We couldn’t exist without our members and community support and, from day one, the club has always sought to pay that support back – both on the field as the boys did so amazingly last year and off the field as well.”

The Foundation will have four areas of focus: encouraging school attendance, particularly in the primary years; inspiring positive life choices during the junior secondary years; supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to complete secondary school; and providing access to a secondary education for young people from remote Indigenous communities.

“Much of the work that the club has done in these areas in the past has been very reliant on government funding. Establishing the Foundation will enable us to broaden our funding base, making the programs more sustainable and enabling us to deepen their impact across North Queensland,” Mr Tonner said. 

The Foundation is registered as a deductible gift recipient charity with the Australian Tax Office, and individual and corporate donations will be tax-deductible.

Speaking at the launch of the Foundation today, Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston said:  “One of the things I love about the Cowboys is our work in the community and with students, young people and those who are doing it tough or don’t have the opportunities most of us take for granted.”

“Setting up the Cowboys Community Foundation as a charity now means that the whole community can become part of the team and help support the club’s work with the young people of the North.”

The charity’s first major fundraising initiative was also announced today.

“We are pleased to announce Weather Lottery as our inaugural fundraising partner,” Mr Tonner said. 

“As the only not-for-profit online charity lottery that donates all profits directly to its charity partners, Weather Lottery is a natural fit for the Cowboys Community Foundation.”

Weather Lottery spokesperson Joanne Edgar said the partnership provided supporters with a fun and exciting way to donate to the Foundation. 

Explaining how it would operate, Ms Edgar said: “Monday night will be the Cowboys Community Foundation’s Weather Lottery night. Members and supporters can simply go to the Weather Lottery website at weatherlottery.com.au and guess the weather in each Australian capital city for that day. If a player correctly picks all seven numbers in sequence, as published by the Bureau of Meteorology, they win $1 million and one in every three players wins a prize.”

“Australia has a long tradition of lotteries supporting charities; some of the country’s longest standing and best known lotteries started out as charity lotteries,” Ms Edgar said.

“Following the privatisation of these lotteries by state governments, the direct links to charity have diminished. Weather Lottery restores this historical relationship and allows charities to raise substantial funds in a timely and cost-effective way.”

Cowboys’ legend Matthew Bowen was also excited about the Foundation and its partnership with the Weather Lottery: “This is the perfect game for North Queenslanders. We all think we are experts on the weather so I’m sure many North Queenslanders will want to get on board and show their skills.”

Hinting that there was more to come from the Cowboys Community Foundation, Greg Tonner also said: “We’re expecting to make another big announcement later in the week about the Foundation’s first major initiative in the community.”

Main image: Joanne Edgar (Weather Lottery), Matthew Bowen, Johnathan Thurston, Greg Tonner