Mentoring organisation I Have a Dream is giving young people the tools they need to succeed

It’s always a good time to think about what you could be doing to give back to the community and those in need. In this series, we highlight initiatives that we deem worthy of your support — and this is certainly true of the youth support and mentoring organisation I Have a Dream.

The Philosophy
Founded in 2003, the team at I Have a Dream believes all children deserve the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive, working from the ground up to affect positive, long-term, generational change. The programme is based on the original work of the U.S. foundation of the same name, and focuses on providing children and young people with access to the resources they need to succeed, academically and otherwise — along with consistent, caring adults (known as Navigators) to guide and support them.

Who they are
The foundation is helmed by CEO Chris Twiss, who has joined the team after over 25 years in venture capital and private equity investment and technology innovation spaces. Trustees are renowned fashion designer Kiri Nathan, Chief Executive of Ki A Ora Ngātiwai health trust Lynette Stewart CNZM and Director of Educational Initiatives at the University of Auckland, Professor Graeme Aitken, while Ice Angels founding member Scott Gilmour is the chairperson. On the ground is a dedicated team of Navigators who, guided by Team Manager Mo Matautia-Tepania, currently work within the Tikipunga, Otangarei and Totara Grove communities of Whangārei.

What they do
Working with its Dream Partner Schools, I Have a Dream offers the services of a consistent, caring adult (Navigator) for up to 15 years of a child’s schooling life, providing mentoring, tutoring, life coaching and support. Aiming to instil values of higher education, career aspirations and life success, they ensure every child has the resources, opportunities and networks they need to succeed. At this stage, the intention is to be present in the Whangārei community for a long time, working holistically and in partnership with family, schools and the wider community.

How to get involved
There are several avenues for supporting I Have a Dream. A number of volunteer positions are available — on a regular or as-needed basis, such as after-school programme assistants, mentors, tutors, guest speakers and more. If you have a particular skill you wish to share, get in touch and let them know. Should you want to do something even more impactful, signing up to be a mentor is hugely rewarding for both the mentor and mentee. For at least a year (but ideally long term), mentors are a consistent, dependable and respectful presence in a young person’s life, providing one-to-one guidance, support and encouragement — and demonstrating how valuable a good role model can be.

As the organisation is completely privately funded, it relies on the support of generous donors to operate, so financial contributions are welcomed via one-off or recurring payments. Monetary donations can enable a child to participate in an event or programme they might have otherwise been denied, and ongoing monthly payments will enable a child to receive the entire I Have a Dream programme and Navigator support.

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