TLG Co-Founder Spotlight: Dave Sherwood

Growing up in rural Western Australia, Teach Learn Grow (TLG) co-founders Dave Sherwood and Travis Elliott saw the effects of the Australian education gap. Knowledge of this, combined with their personal experience led Dave and Travis to establish the not-for-profit organisation in April of 2011.

The two childhood friends were travelling through Europe together, where they “often had conversations on politics and one day got thinking that we should be doing more than just studying and socialising, that we should give back to the community,” Dave said.

“It certainly wasn’t our intention to set up a large organisation. Being from Bunbury ourselves, we thought we should give back to rural areas.”

And so TLG began, with the first Rural Program visit to Three Springs Primary School. Dave and Trav gathered up 12 friends, organised a bus, and drove 325km north to Three Springs for the first week of one-on-one tutoring and mentoring, to help bridge gaps in students’ learning and improve educational outcomes.

Dave says “the initial goal was simply to give back to the local community. After the first program, it became clear that our real goal was to bridge the education gap between rural and Indigenous students compared to those in the city, using one-on-one tutoring.”

Dave studied a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Chemistry and Physics) at the University of Western Australia and was awarded a Fogarty Scholarship. In 2013, Dave travelled to Cambridge to study Politics, Philosphy and Economics at the University of Oxford as the Western Australian Rhodes Scholar.

Co-founding TLG helped Dave get a “taste of entrepeneurship and realise that chemistry research really wasn’t for me.” While living and studying in London, Dave co-founded the London based start-up ‘Spotify for textbooks’, BibliU (previously Bibliotech) and is currently the Chief Executive Officer.

As the CEO, Dave continues to build a vision and strategy with the Board that is delivered by a competent team, supported by adequate resources, while being the face of the company and building a global network.

Dave remains heavily involved with TLG, where he is currently the Chairperson of the Board, and engages the organisation during frequent trips home to Perth and Bunbury.

Dave still remembers the “mix of exhaustion, fulfillment, happiness, sadness and excitment” of his first Rural Program visit in 2011 to Three Springs. “Seeing the impact on the kids was like nothing I’ve experienced before” and is the reason why TLG continues to grow in size and impact.

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