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Feb 12, 2020

Scott founded 'I Have a Dream NZ' and in this interview we learn all about the impact it is having on the lives of kids through a programme that helps children from low income communities reach their education and career goals by providing a long term programme of mentoring, tutoring, and enrichment.   And by long term, he means long term - the people involved commit to supporting and being involved with the same children from a very young age right through to early adulthood.  It's an amazing program - more below - but we also find out about Scott's life and his background in Invercargill, working for Intel in the US and what he learned there about culture and work practises, what he learned working at Intel, impact investing, moving back to NZ and being involved in founding IceAngels one of the first Angel investment groups in New Zealand.  

This is episode 162 - if you like it, consider checking out earlier ones at 

Website: 'I Have a Dream NZ

Overview and detailed information and links:

The I Have a Dream programme has been operating in the Wesley community of Mt Roskill since 2003, with significant success.  Our results from the project (see table below) demonstrate that investing in children for their entire educational journey (from Primary School to Tertiary and/or Employment) can solve the problem of inter-generational poverty.

These Auckland “Dreamers” have achieved on many metrics, including leadership, community participation, sports and quality of life.  But perhaps the most significant, and certainly the most easily quantified, is their educational success.  We tracked them against a Comparison Group, which was the Year Level ahead of them at the same Decile 1 Primary School in Mt Roskill.  80% entered tertiary education compared to 30% in the comparison group.

These young people are now 24 years old, and most of them have entered successful careers. 

This project was based on the US model which has enjoyed 37 years of success, with more than 200 projects impacting the lives of over 17,000 young people.  Our pilot project in Mt Roskill was designed to assess whether this American “franchise” can be applied successfully in the NZ context.  We have proven that it can.

The next stage is to demonstrate that we can scale this out, cost-effectively, to all the schools in a community.  We started expanding to 1,000+ young people across 4 schools in the Tikipunga/Otangarei community in Whangarei in 2016.  We want to take the Government with us on this 10–15 year journey, with the intention that they will then roll this out to all high needs communities in NZ.

Our points of difference, compared to many other education and youth development initiatives, are:

·       Long Term Intervention – 15 years, from Year 1 through to tertiary and employment

·       Full-time Adult Advocate – a Navigator works with each cohort (between 50 and 90 children in each Year Level ) for their entire educational journey, from Primary School to Tertiary Study and/or a Career

·       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

·       Aspirational – every child has potential, so our kaupapa (mission) is to help uncover and develop that child’s dream and unique capabilities

·       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 whānau (family)

Importantly, we have undertaken ongoing professional research that proves the programme’s effectiveness and outcomes.  Some of this evaluation can be seen at:

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 our programme’s history in Mt Roskill and the future in Tikipunga/Otangarei

·        Personal testimony videos from some of our Dreamer alumni:  Amelia, Anna, Mosa, Robel, and Tali

·        This clip features a couple of our new Whangarei students and introduces some of our Navigators.  This was produced by our 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 our Mt Roskill graduates, Amelia Unufe

Beyond this information, I’d be happy to share our Business and Operations plans, our Annual Report and Audited Accounts, and the 6-monthly Performance Reports prepared for one of our major funders (Foundation North).

We also want to inform public debate about the need for this kind of investment, hence our excitement at the sponsorship from the MediaWorks Foundation.  Have you noticed the TV and radio advertisements hosted by Duncan Garner?

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, we help 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.

Here are three recent videos we’ve produced, with the pro bono assistance of local providers:

1.      This 2 minute video was shown at the 5th Annual IceAngels Tech Showcase in Auckland on 21st Sept, 2017.  Please listen to these children, assisted by well-known TV News presenter, Duncan Garner, explain why the roomful of tech investors should support our programme.  We applaud the donors from the tech and angel investment sectors that are acknowledged in the video …. and are glad they didn’t mind being called “Donuts” …  J

2.     We released this new Dreamer Song at the Town Hall in Whangarei on Sat 21st Oct, 2017.  I Have a Dream was selected by Menzies, a global aviation services firm, as their charity partner for 2017.  This meant that they had a team of executives working with the programme for the week, culminating in the release of this awesome new song.  It was written by Joby Hopa (our Community Engagement Manager) and performed by 40 of the Dreamers from the 4 schools we’re working with in the Tikipunga/Otangarei community.

3.      All of our volunteers deserve this kind of recognition!

We’ve also been lucky to have two great stories in the press recently:

1.      This article (and short video) in a recent issue of the Northern Advocate described an awesome camp for these tamariki (children).  All of them experienced a wealth of exciting new experiences, they had to push their boundaries, and they discovered new capabilities within themselves.  It’s a fairly expensive outing, on a per head basis, but the ROI in terms of their confidence and memories will be huge, and long-lasting

2.      This article in the Dec. ‘18 issue of North & South magazine illustrates the power of our model of inter-generational investment.

It’s important to note that we are continually refining and developing the principles behind our programme.  Important elements that have been evolved specifically for the context in Aotearoa NZ are:

1.     Wairua/Tikanga Māori.  We recognise that Wairua/Tikanga Māori is fundamental to Māori existence, so as we are now expanding into a predominantly Māori community, we uphold a core set of values which determine our objectives and programming.  These key values are: Ako (learning), Aroha (love), Whānaunatanga (relationships), Tumanako (hope) and Rangatiratanga (autonomy).

2.     Circle of Courage.  The Circle of Courage model portrays four growth needs of all children: Belonging, Mastery, Independence, and Generosity.  This internationally applied model has evolved to act as a guide for adults to better serve children and youth who are in emotional pain from conflict in the family, school, community, peer groups or with self.

We know there is more that we can do to deepen and broaden the reach of our programme, e.g.,

·        During his recent visit Richie Poulton, the PM’s Chief Science Adviser for Poverty & Well-being, encouraged us to extend our mahi back to birth, rather than starting in Year 1 of Primary School.  We could do this internally, but see benefit in partnering with an expert in this space, such as Talking Matters.

·       We see the benefit in working more closely with other educationally-focused programmes such as Teach First NZ and Springboard Trust to become a more complete solution to the goal of raising education achievement in our schools.

·        There are many other wonderful groups in NZ doing similar and parallel work, such as The Wise Group, Mahitahi Hauora, Tamaki Regeneration Company, etc., whom we can learn from and share with.