First Foundation/

Our Story

One idea, eight regions and hundreds of lives transformed.

2010 Hazel Tafa colourOne idea, eight regions and hundreds of lives transformed. That's the simple story behind First Foundation, a unique educational trust founded to assit academically talented New Zealander students worthy of support, a hand up to tertiary education, and to prepare them to positively influence and benefit their communities.

The one idea was Steven Carden's. At 24 years of age, with degrees in law and arts and a wealth of family support, he had the education and upbringing to do almost anything in life. However, he also recognised the same opportunities weren't available to everyone, especially students in low-decile schools. Steven's response was to develop a scholarship model that would help remove the barriers that many talented students, worthy of support, face in reaching and achieving their goals and aspirations.

In 1998, the three inaugural scholarships were awarded in Auckland. Today, First Foundation awards scholarships in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Whangarei, Rotorua, Horowhenua,Dunedin and Hamilton. 563 students have participated or are currently in the scholarship programme. Each scholarship is changing a life.

First Foundation Vision

First Foundation brings together a diverse group of people to achieve our vision - To assist academically talented students worthy of support to achieve their potential through tertiary education and to prepare them to positively influence and benefit their communities.

Our goal is to award 'more scholarships than students' - anything less than this implies an acceptance that deserving and able students in New Zealand will not be able to reach their potential through lack of opportunity or support.

First Foundation Values

Committed to excellence "Kia arotahi ki te kōtihi" - Focussed on the summit (of excellence)
Collaborative "Kia ngātahi te waihoe" - Rowing together in unison
Respectful "Kia ngākau tapatahi te whai koha" - Unified towards respectful relationships
Supportive "Kia mahi-tahi te tautoko" - Mutual support and cooperation
Aspirational "Kia whai-tahi te tūmanako" - Combined pursuit towards realising one's hopes


First Foundation Purpose


First Foundation has a strong belief in the potential of partnerships and simplicity of a" hand up" to make an amazing difference to an individual and the impact they will have on their society.
First Foundation brings together NZ businesses, individuals, schools and students together to help achieve our Vision.

We achieve this through a proven and unique 4 year programme that includes;

  • paid work experience, networks and financial support students receive from their Scholarship Partner (sponsoring organisation);
  • the advice and guidance students receive from their personal mentor; and
  • the support and development provided by First Foundation assists the students to make successful transitions from school to university, through university and then into the workforce.

Students receive their First Foundation scholarships at the end of Year 12. This recognises the importance of both their final year at school and the transition from secondary school to tertiary education.

Principal Sponsor

Funding Organisations

More sponsors & supporters