Charitable cause spotlight: 5 minutes with Jeans for Genes

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective. That’s certainly the case for Jeans for Genes, an event that raises money for the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) in one beautifully simple way: everyone pays money to wear denim.

At Winc, we’ve been proudly supporting this charitable cause since 2014, when our Jeans for Genes Classroom Challenge first took schools by storm. We believe that if we can encourage more people to get involved and have fun with their fundraising, we can help them make a bigger difference in Australian lives.

Our work with Jeans for Genes is all part of another simple idea that, by partnering with charitable causes, businesses can have a hugely positive impact on the world.

So what are the positive effects of partnerships like ours? How can your business get involved? We spoke to Barry Kenyon, National Campaign Manager at Jeans for Genes, to find out:

First, tell us about Jeans for Genes and the Children’s Medical Research Institute.

“Founded in 1994, Jeans for Genes is the iconic fundraising campaign of Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI). On the first Friday in August each year, workplaces, schools and streets become a sea of denim, in a united stance against childhood disease. Over 1 million people wear their favourite jeans, outdo each other with crazy denim outfits, host denim-themed events, donate money for a charitable cause and purchase Jeans for Genes merchandise.

Every dollar raised directly helps researchers at CMRI discover treatments and cures for childhood diseases such as cancer, birth defects, genetic diseases and debilitating neurological disorders like epilepsy and autism.

Most babies are born healthy, but sadly 1 in 20 children is born with a birth defect or genetic disease. On average, that’s one in every classroom affected. The researchers at CMRI believe that is one child too many and that research is critical in ensuring every child is given the opportunity to live a long and healthy life. Today, CMRI is the world-leader in the latest approaches to cancer diagnosis and treatment, and is pioneering new methods for correcting genetic diseases.”

What are the specific areas of research?

“CMRI conducts world-leading research to discover new and better treatments and cures for some of the leading causes of death in children—cancer, birth defects, genetic diseases—as well as addressing disabling neurological disorders, such as epilepsy and autism.”

What milestones have been achieved since CMRI started out?

“We have achieved many charitable cause milestones over the past 60 years, including improving the survival of premature babies and pioneering life-saving microsurgery techniques to repair tiny blood vessels and organs in infants and children. We have also introduced rubella vaccination to protect against potentially fatal or disabling childhood disease, and we also discovered and are now developing a new class drug for treating epilepsy.

We’ve learnt that fate mapping of the early embryo can help us understand many developmental problems and have identified the components of human telomerase, which will be important for treating 85% of all cancers.

More recently we found a cure for genetic liver disease, with clinical trials about to begin and launched ProCan® which will help speed up global research and forever change cancer diagnosis and treatment planning for all types of cancer.”

What do you hope to achieve over the next 5 to 10 years?

“As a reputable charitable cause, our aim is to continue nurturing our current discoveries and revolutionise cancer diagnosis and treatment planning through our global initiative, ACRF-ProCan®. We are also committed to developing more gene therapy cures for rare genetic diseases in children, and creating better epilepsy treatments that will one day help children (and adults) around the world. Accomplishing these important goals will not be easy, and our researchers derive real energy from the support and encouragement of the local and international community.”

How does Jeans for Genes differ from other not-for-profit organisations?

“Children’s Medical Research Institute is a not-for-profit organisation with an onsite medical research facility, meaning we have the unique opportunity to see the fruits of the Jeans for Genes fundraising reflected directly in our research efforts. For example, Diandra Edmondston’s life was saved thanks to Telomere research conducted at CMRI. Her story and the success of her treatment can be viewed on our YouTube channel.”

How can businesses get involved in Jeans for Genes?

“Getting involved with a charitable cause is easy. We partner with organisations to develop a tailored support package that aligns with their corporate social responsibility goals, and provides valuable business benefits such as:

• Strategic corporate partnerships – including cause related marketing.
• Program/event sponsorship – cash sponsorship to subsidise program costs and resourcing.
• Donations in kind – companies can offer prizes which are used for events, auctions or programs to help raise funds.
• Pro bono support – companies can offer professional services to help reduce program costs.
• Retail partner program – companies can demonstrate their support by selling Jeans for Genes merchandise through their business.

These partnerships also provide opportunities for employees, such as:

• Increased engagement through support of a common cause – to help find cures and improved treatments for genetic diseases in children.
• Corporate volunteering – selling Jeans for Genes merchandise on the day.
• Dollar matching – incentivise employees to raise funds for Jeans for Genes Day.
• Event participation – attending official events including our annual Gala Dinner, golf and race days.
• Workplace giving – donating pre-tax dollars is a simple and cost effective way to get involved and support the cause.”

Get involved

At Winc, we’re huge supporters of charities and not-for-profits. Over the years, we have worked with some great partners to support the good work they do in our community and spur much needed change across Australia. We’re not just good people to deal with, we make sure that as a company we make positive impact on the world around us too.

We’re dedicated to helping you make the most of the future of working and learning, while also making a genuine impact on your local communities today. That’s why we’ve got everything you need to get there, in the one place. Explore the possibilities with Winc.

To learn more about Jeans for Genes and how you can participate, visit

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