Renowned businessman David Gonski has joined Commonwealth Bank boss Ian Narev, media mogul Kerry Stokes and former newspaper boss John B Fairfax to donate $5.25 million over five years to hundreds of disadvantaged students.
Their Pioneers in Philanthropy group is working in partnership with Schools Plus, a charity that matches needy schools with philanthropists and businesses to fund education programs for pupils and theirteachers.
Gonski, who led a wideranging review of Australia's education funding in 2011, said philanthropists could help address education inequality by supporting specific programs that disadvantaged schools can't usually afford.
"With the right support, these children are just as capable of achieving magnificent things," he said.
"We owe it to them to create the environment that enables them to thrive so that in turn, Australia as a nation can thrive."
Schools Plus, which was set up following a recommendation in the Gonski review, has donated $2.5 million to about 90 needy schools running programs ranging from science and technology projects through to ones that help newly arrived migrant students and their families adjust to school life in Australia.
Schools apply for funding from the charity, whose panel of education experts select the ones they believe will deliver great outcomes for students.
Schools Plus chief executive Rosemary Conn says about 300 schools had applied for funding in the past 18 months.
"There's certainly a lot more demand than there is supply," she told AAP.
"We're hearing from schools from all over the country."
Elle Hidson, principal at Canley Heights Public School in Sydney's southwest, says she felt like her pupils and teachers "hit the jackpot" when they were matched a year ago with a company that runs a technology and learning centre at the school once a week for about 50 students.
Under the program, students can access computers and other tech devices they don't have at home and learn new skills such as coding.
Teachers are also taught how to brush up on their tech skills.
"These partnerships we have are priceless," Hidson said.
Being able to help students in rural and remote areas was a major attraction for John B Fairfax, who donates to Pioneers in Philanthropy through his family's trust, Jibb.
"There are difficulties in education for a lot of people, particularly in rural and remote areas and this whole program strives to overcome some of those difficulties," said Fairfax, who set up regional newspaper group Rural Press before merging it with his family's Fairfax media empire.
Pioneers in Philanthropy is also backed by former ABN Amro Australia boss Angus James, WorleyParsons founder John Grill and Ausgrid chairman Roger Massy-Greene.