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Maria was born in 1940 in Hungary and fled with her family to Australia following the second world war. She arrived in Australia, with her mother, father, and sister, onboard the ship Skaugum in 1949.

Maria taught herself English and developed a thirst for knowledge which fuelled a lifelong passion for the power of education. A pioneer in Australia’s self-storage industry, she founded a number businesses in the construction industry. While she had no children, was especially fond of horses and maintained a stable throughout her adult life.

Maria was naturalised as an Australian citizen in 1958 and valued hard work, resilience and was a great believer in individual agency. Maria's charitable intent, demonstrated through her sharing of time, expertise, and resources during her lifetime, continues through her Foundation.

The Maria Vasas Foundation is managed by co-trustees Australian Executor Trustees (AET, part of Equity Trustees) and Maria’s former financial advisor, Laurence Crawley, who continues to manage the investments of the Foundation today. Eligible charities can apply for funding aligned with the Foundation’s funding strategy via an expression of interest process.

Advisory committee

The Foundation has an advisory committee comprising of Laurence Crawley and Maria’s original estate planning lawyer, Jennifer Wilson. They consider and review grant applications presented by AET (Equity Trustees) annually.

How granting decisions are made

The Foundation’s advisory committee evaluates grant applications based on the current funding strategy.

These include:

Support for individuals who face financial, social, or cultural barriers to enhance their education and career development opportunities,
Arts and education organisations whose programs provide personal and professional development opportunities for marginalised and/or disadvantaged children and young people.

Advisory committee members consider annual and multi-year applications for funding up to $50,000 from February to early May via SmartyGrants.

2024 Grant round open


Download The Maria Vasas Foundation guidelines

Application timeline

The funding round is based on the calendar year. The following table provides timelines for the application process.

Expressions of interest open   Monday 5 February 2024
Expressions of interest close
Friday 1 March 2024
Applications open
Monday 8 April 2024
Applications close 
Friday 3 May 2024
Applicants advised of outcome
Friday 7 June 2024

Contact Us 

For more information contact us by email or call us on 1800684672