Our Programme/

The Issue

New Zealand is widely considered as the ‘best place in the world to raise a family’ and a ‘land of opportunity’ where young people have the opportunity to realise their dreams and aspirations.

2010 Maori girl

For many of us, the above statement conjures up an image of the quintessential New Zealand childhood: of bare feet on green grass, of playing outside from dawn to dusk, of swinging on jungle gyms, and of Sunday roasts around the kitchen table. For many parents, it also conjures up an image of access to world-class health care and excellent schools, universities, and opportunities - in essence, a place where our children can see, reach for, and achieve their dreams and aspirations.

However, whilst this image rings true for many New Zealanders, for others it is an image that is difficult to conceive. With many families focused on day-to-day survival (24% of children and young people are estimated to be living in poverty in New Zealand)* , it is hardly surprising to find that it is those with the greatest socio-economic disadvantage who have the worst rates for educational participation, numeracy and literacy, and qualification attainment.

Prime Minister John Key, while speaking at the First Foundation 10th Anniversary Awards in 2008, highlighted that "if you go to a decile 9 or 10 school in New Zealand, you are almost four times as likely to gain a qualification at University than you are if you go to a decile 1 or 2."


First Foundation believes that all young people should have the opportunity to achieve their dreams, irrespective of socio-economic status. This belief underpins our scholarship programme, a programme that empowers outstanding students from low decile schools to transform their lives through tertiary education.

Support and guidance during the months between school finishing and the university semester starting can help students and the self-doubt and loss of focus which can lead to decisions not to continue with tertiary study (Starpath 2010).

Our proposition is unique in that whilst we recognise financial assistance as important, we also view money as just one piece of the overall 'package' that is required to empower and assist our Scholars to truly transform their lives. Many of our students lack tertiary-qualified role models to help them prepare for and transition into tertiary study. Students from low socio-economic communities also tend to lack access to influential social and professional networks and labour market information as compared with their peers at high decile schools.

For these reasons, First Foundation's programme is built around three key 'pillars':

  • financial assistance
  • paid work experience
  • mentoring

* Human Rights Commission- NZ Action for Human Rights

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