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First Foundation empowers local students2 min read

Jun 11, 2024 2 min

First Foundation empowers local students2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Ahmed Ali and Magdalene Ieremia-Apelu with their mentors Jeremy Wong (Fisher and Paykel Healthcare) and Jane Godfrey (ISS Facility Services).

First Foundation, an organisation dedicated to providing tertiary scholarships to deserving high school students, celebrated is 25th anniversary, by introducing its 2024 cohort of 89 scholars.

First Foundation has now reached a milestone of 1,002 scholarships since its creation, including 99 students from the three local high schools.

First Foundation focuses on students who, due to family or other circumstances, might not be able to afford the cost of tertiary education. One of their proudest achievements is that more than 75% of recipients are the first members of their whānau to attend university.

Along with financial support, the students are partnered with personal mentors and businesses that will provide internships and part-time work while they are studying.

Speaking at the ceremony, First Foundation founder, Steve Carden, recalled an event in 1998 that took place in a small back room, with just three students and a handful of business people.

Today, they need an auditorium to induct the 89 new students in front of hundreds of attendees.

One of the original three students was from Penrose High School (now One Tree Hill College), which has since produced 38 students. Onehunga High School has had 44 students since 2001 and Marcellin College has had seven students since 2016.

The 2024 recipients, Ahmed Ali and Magdalene Ieremia-Apelu from OHS, offer a snapshot of the kind of opportunities that First Foundation creates. Ahmed has been partnered with Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, one of New Zealand’s largest international companies, while Magdalene has been partnered with the New Zealand arm of ISS Facility Services, a global cleaning, catering and services company with more than 350,000 employees worldwide in more than 30 countries.

Neil Moselen, COO of ISS New Zealand, is a big supporter of First Foundation, and proud to be supporting New Zealand’s future. He says that the scholarships are “…a hand up, not a hand out.”

The goal now is to award the next 1,000 students in five years. Foundation CEO, Kirk Sargent, says the challenge is not finding talented students, as for every successful student, there are seven applicants that the foundation has to turn down. To achieve their desired target, they need more businesses and supporters to join them.