Charity receives $100,000 to help high school students find a future path

A South Auckland-based youth organization has been awarded a $100,000 grant to help Māori and Pasifika secondary school students find future pathways once they leave school.

The Rising Foundation (TRF) has a strong focus on long-term preventive youth work, with a large portion of the funding going towards paying for a full-time program coordinator and mentor to provide practical, emotional and cultural support to Papakura High School.

“There are a few hundred graduates of our program from Papakura High School. It all continues to support the mahi that we do (there),” said TRF’s operations manager Gideon Rihari.

“We are in four high schools and we have a team of five coordinators and it is always a mission for our program manager to find money to pay our youth workers.”

He said the grant from food manufacturer Bluebird and the PepsiCo Foundation is huge for TRF.

“It’s a lot of weight off our shoulders and we can continue with the mahi that we do. As everyone knows, times are tough and it’s definitely difficult to find money for these types of programs.”

Looking back on his own childhood, Rihari remembers joining TRF as a rangatahi and how much it changed his life. It inspired him to return and help other rangatahi, who remind him of his younger self.

“They supported me to make some changes in my life, where I was on the wrong path… you can definitely see a part of yourself in many of the tamariki in our program. It means an awful lot to to be able to be the type of person who was there for me when I was going through the same situations.”

PepsiCo’s senior human resources manager Tanya McFarlane said the company has supported many charities, but working with TRF is new.

“We’ve supported natural disasters, food supplies and things like that in the past, but having this relationship with The Rising Foundation, helping to provide a grant to support a program, is probably the first of its kind.”

It is the first time they have invested a grant in a New Zealand community partner, reflecting Bluebird’s commitment to its strategic plan that focuses on outcomes for Māori and Pasifika.

“The principles of The Rising Foundation align well with our own Bluebird Rautaki Māori, which is our own commitment to uplifting Māori in our workplace but also in the community,” McFarlane said.

The company said it is committed to continuing its partnership with TRF by planning career days, providing mentoring opportunities to local Bluebird staff and having volunteers attend TRF’s camps.