Spotlight on NZ Charity: Inspiring Dreams, Enabling Futures

The ‘I Have a Dream’ programme has been operating in the Wesley community of Mt Roskill since 2003, with significant success. Amelia is one of many examples of this success.  They are now expanding to 1,500 disadvantaged youth across 4 schools in the Tikipunga/Otangarei community in Whangarei.


These Auckland “Dreamers” have achieved on many metrics, including leadership, community participation, sports achievements and quality of life.  But perhaps the most significant, and certainly the most easily quantified, is their educational success.  A professional education researcher tracked them against a Comparison Group, which was the Year Level ahead of them at the same Decile 1 Primary School in Mt Roskill.  This table illustrates the outcomes:

Charity Graph B


Simply put, their results from the past 14 years of the project in Mt Roskill have demonstrated that investing for an entire generation (from age 5 to 20) can solve the problem of inter-generational poverty. 

As Scott said, “we knew that it could, based on its 34 years of success in the US, with more than 200 projects impacting the lives of over 17,000 young people.  The pilot project in Mt Roskill was designed to assess whether this model can be applied successfully in the NZ context.  We have proven that it can.”

The next stage is to demonstrate that they can scale this out, cost-effectively, to all the schools in a community.  They want to take the Government with them on this 10–15 year journey, with the intention that it will then be rolled out to all high needs communities in NZ.

The programme’s points of difference, compared to many other education and youth development initiatives, are:

  • Aspirational – every child has potential, so our kaupapa (mission) is to help uncover and develop that child’s dream and unique capabilities
  • Long Term Intervention – 15 years, from Year 1 through to tertiary and employment
  • Inclusiveness – we work with all the children in a disadvantaged community – we don't just target specific kids based on their talents, risk factors, ethnicity or socio-economic status
  • Full-time Adult Advocate – a Navigator works with each cohort (approx. 100 children in each Year group) for their entire 15 year journey
  • Holistic – we offer wrap-around services, and do whatever it takes to keep each child on track
  • Collective Impact – we work closely with the schools, and we integrate the activities of all the non-profits and Government agencies that work with each child and whanau (family)


Reports from the professional research proving the programme’s effectiveness and outcomes can be seen at: www.ihaveadream.org.nz/results

These four links below give a good introduction to the extension of the I Have a Dream programme into Whangarei:

  • This 4 minute video provides an overview of the programme’s history in Mt Roskill and the future in Tikipunga/Otangarei
  • Personal testimony videos from some of the Dreamer alumni:  AmeliaAnnaMosaRobel, and Tali
  • This clip features a couple of the new Whangarei students and introduces some of the Navigators.  This was produced by their major funder, Foundation North
  • This clip was produced by the NZ Herald, as part of their series of articles on NCEA.  It features one of the Mt Roskill graduates, Amelia Unufe


Ant Backhouse, the programme Navigator in Mt Roskill and now CEO, said that they want to inform public debate about the need for this kind of investment.  They were thrilled to be selected by the MediaWorks Foundation as a national charity partner, which has led to a new series of TV and radio advertisements, hosted by Duncan Garner.

Scott said that the US operation runs like a very effective franchise, with a SOP that can be replicated.  They adapted it for the NZ context, and are now expanding it to an entire community.  He’d be happy to share any of the following material:

  • Business Plan from early 2015, outlining the strategic thinking behind the programme
  • Operational Plan, also from early 2015, detailing the programme’s structure and systems
  • Request for Engagement that was sent to two school districts in 2014, to determine their suitability for the programme
  • Annual Report and Audited Annual Accounts from 2015 & 2016 (calendar year)
  • First three of the 6-monthly Performance Reports to Foundation North (Jun & Dec 2016 and Jun 2017)


This programme is designed to produce positive outcomes for the children involved, their whānau and the community they live in.  By offering the services of a consistent caring adult for the 15 years of their schooling life, it helps to ensure that each child graduates with the academic and social skills to successfully transition to a career or further study.  This will ensure that they become positive role-models who add value to their communities, increasing economic and social outcomes for our country.

Can you help?  Ant Backhouse says that everyone has time, talents and treasures.  If you know of people in Whangarei that might be interested, the programme needs hundreds of volunteers for tutoring at the After School Programme, to serve as Mentors, be a Guest Speaker, host work place visits, etc.  While Scott was able to fund the Mt Roskill project after a successful exit from a start-up he did in Oregon, he reports that he (sadly!) hasn’t sold any software companies since then.  Given the long-term nature of the programme, the ideal supporter is one who can commit for a few years.  They offer a Sponsor a Dreamer option, for $85 per month, which will support a child through the programme.  Some people have sponsored multiple Dreamers, all the way up to Sponsor a Navigator, which supports an entire Year Level for $100,000 p.a.

Scott also advised that US-based Kea members can donate through the New York National office and qualify for tax credits in the US. 

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