Why First Foundation

Make an Impact >

Schools and Students




Changing futures for a whole community

Within a few months, the Dines Family Charitable Trust has directly changed six futures and impacted many more lives. Melissa Dines says nothing is more rewarding than helping someone grow and thrive.

Dines Family with their scholars

“The wrap-around support of First Foundation’s three pillars is unique. It eases the financial burden for families and also the emotional burden. The value of a mentor can’t be underestimated.”

“First Foundation scholars are already leaders in their schools. You know that with support through tertiary study, they’ll go on to be leaders in their communities and workplaces too. This has an immense knock-on effect that benefits us all.”

The Dines Family Charitable Trust has a broad purpose of giving relief from poverty, advancing education, improving health outcomes and increasing well-being in the community.

“We see the power of First Foundation in levelling the playing field in education so talented students can access tertiary education – even if their resources are limited.


Saying no was impossible

The Dines family saw the challenges last year’s students faced, and they wanted to ensure they wouldn’t miss out on more opportunities. So, at the end of 2021, they began interviewing scholars.

Melissa admits the family wanted to fund two scholars a year, depending on the quality of applicants. However, the scholars they met were so outstanding they ended up supporting more.

“They were all so different but equally strong and equally deserving. There was no way to choose between them. And it’s the same this year; we’ve funded another three.”

“Their energy and enthusiasm have been so infectious. We couldn’t say no. It’s a privilege to be part of their journey.”

People at the heart

Melissa says the whole experience has been incredible.

“The team at First Foundation are fantastic; their passion and commitment to the students are evident. But it’s been getting to know students themselves that has been most rewarding.”

Melissa, previously a Fine Arts lecturer, is used to seeing the challenges young people face in the transition to tertiary study.

“To have people around you who are familiar with that environment makes such a big difference. Our scholars have families who are right behind them but are often working long hours and caring for their wider family members. Having the support of a mentor who can be a listening ear makes a huge difference.

Melissa believes that having the opportunity to go to higher education can be where people find their best potential. But it can be out of reach when there’s pressure to start earning and support a family or avoid large student debt.

Changing prospects for the community

Melissa and her sister both attended Massey High School and the Dines Family was keen to give back to their community. Providing First Foundation scholarships for outstanding students from lower-income households there does this.

Through the process of setting up the scholarships, Melissa joined the Board of Trustees for her old school, Massey High School. 

“We want to see our young people have a shared sense of pride and connection. We loved meeting each scholar’s family at the awards night. We’ll ensure the Massey scholars they can get together each year and keep in touch.”

Kirk Sargent, Chief Executive of First Foundation, says the generosity and vision of the Dines Family are remarkable. 

“By directing their support to this school, they’ve done something special. They’ve made a tertiary pathway more visible and possible for their community. We’d love to see others follow this example and work together to remove barriers for promising students.”