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New partners sought for education scholarships

East Coast organisations are being asked to help change the lives of young students who would otherwise miss out on well-deserved support.

First Foundation, an educational trust that operates nationwide, is seeking new partners to become part of its scholarship programme for capable students from low socioeconomic communities.

Becoming a First Foundation scholarship partner involves providing financial assistance towards a scholar’s tertiary fees, and part-time work for the four-year duration of the scholarship.

Sam Hughes was awarded a scholarship when he was 17 years old that provided him with the opportunity to work in Fonterra’s corporate marketing office on the same floor as the chief executive.

He is from Auckland but is now the deputy principal at Tolaga Bay Area School.

“It provided me with a job that a 17-year-old from a low socioeconomic background would never have an opportunity to have, and provided me with a mentor who has now become a really close mate over the years,” Mr Hughes said.

He is really keen to see more young people from the East Coast benefit from a First Foundation scholarship.

Mr Hughes admits he was not a risk-free option at the time, but he has gone on to excel and become a strong advocate for young people in his community.

“Not being a risk-free option simply meant that I grew up knowing about some things I shouldn’t have,” he said.

“I come from a beautiful and loving whanau, but sometimes socioeconomic situations determine what you see and know about.

“I was lucky that I had formed a relationship with First Foundation and was identified as a student in real need.

“Fonterra decided to give a scholarship on the day of the awards.

“I took an interview on a packed bus with all my mates around and the rest is history.

“Fonterra took the chance and I couldn’t be more grateful,” Mr Hughes said.

First Foundation chief executive Kirk Sargent wants to find new partners to invest in young people on the East Coast.

“Every year, First Foundation award scholarships to young New Zealanders who have plenty of talent but few financial resources, so they can access tertiary education, paid work experience and mentoring,” he said.

“This life-changing work is only possible because of the amazing support of our scholarship partners, who are the cornerstone of our programme.”

First Foundation recently interviewed 150 potential scholars for the 2020 academic year.

All were competent students, but the Foundation will have to turn down 100 of them unless new partners come on board.

“We have 50 generous scholarship partners but we’d love to have more.

“We want to provide the same opportunity to all these gifted students.

“If we can get more Kiwi organisations to partner with us, we’ll be able to transform the lives of even more deserving young students,” he said.

THEN AND NOW: Tolaga Bay Area School deputy principal Sam Hughes says he was not a “risk-free option” when he was awarded a First Foundation scholarship through Fonterra 11 years ago. “Fonterra took the chance and I couldn’t be more grateful,” Mr Hughes said. Picture supplied