Too many of our young people are falling through the cracks. Confronted with the fluctuating currents of education and employment, with a range of adult-sized obstacles to overcome, many of New Zealand’s youth find themselves lost amidst the waves of unemployment or disengagement.

In an exciting move, the Ministry of Development (MYD) has provided funding for The Y’s newest initiative, designed to uplift young New Zealanders facing adversity. This significant investment underscores MYD’s confidence in The Y’s proven expertise to guide vulnerable youth towards promising futures.

Recognising this, The Y’s new mentoring programme, operated through the dynamic ‘Raise Up’ youth development platform and supported by the Ākonga Youth Development Community Fund, offers more than just support—it’s a springboard for connection and growth. Raise Up has been providing support for young people for over 20 years, however, this new initiative adds a formality and structure that will make a huge difference in identifying and achieving particular goals, such as reconnection with school.

The Y: Steering Young Kiwis to Their Full Potential

The Y’s programme promises a comprehensive support structure, with weekly mentoring and workshops tailored to the individual needs of those aged 12 to 21. Experienced youth workers will act as mentors, guiding the 12-15 age group towards re-engagement with secondary education and fostering confidence and wellness. For the 16-21 cohort, the focus shifts to life skills and work readiness, equipping them with the tools needed for a successful transition to adulthood.

This transformative new initiative is aimed at providing targeted support for young people who need it most, steering vulnerable young Kiwis towards brighter horizons. It is more than a lifeline; it’s a launchpad for youth to forge bonds with their whānau, iwi, and community, anchoring them to a network of support that spans educational, health, and youth services. With these newfound connections, our young people are set to sail towards increased learning engagement and chart a course for their future, be it further training or meaningful employment. Raise Up is not just raising the bar; it’s raising aspirations, one young person at a time.

Mentoring: Navigating Youth to Brighter Horizons

The initiative promises comprehensive support, including weekly mentoring and workshops for those aged 12 to 21, with a special focus on marginalised groups. These include young people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+, Māori and Pasifika, and young women. Initially rolling out in South, West, and Central Auckland, the first mentees are currently being enrolled.

Raise Up are leveraging their existing connections with high schools to promote the new initiative; connecting with pastoral care teams to refer students to the programme. There has already been a lot of interest. We already had an idea of the scale of the need, and this has only been reinforced by talking to the schools - they are delighted that there will be more targeted support out there for young people to fulfil their potential.

Mentors will tailor their approach to each individual’s needs, fostering confidence, wellness, and social ties for the 12-15 age group, and equipping the 16-21 cohort with life skills for a successful transition to adulthood. Mentors become navigators, understanding each ākonga’s unique map of challenges, and custom-crafting activities to build confidence, wellness, to set goals, and create social connections. Embracing a strengths-based approach, we fuel their journey to a future brimming with potential.

Charting a Course for the Future

The mentoring programme is poised to make a tangible impact, with expected outcomes such as improved school attendance, job acquisition, and enhanced confidence and well-being. Building stronger community and whanau ties, the mentoring programme will foster enhanced social skills and connection. The initiative aims to help bridge the gap for our young people, particularly in the post-COVID-19 era that has disproportionately affected the youth.

The Y is thrilled to receive financial backing from MYD, which enables us to launch this impactful programme for our young people. We are committed to providing young people with the support and guidance they need to overcome their challenges and achieve their dreams. We are confident that our mentoring programme will make a positive difference in the lives of many ākonga and their whanau and communities. Stay tuned as we follow the journey of New Zealand’s youth, steering towards a future brimming with promise and potential, one young person at a time.

The Raise Up programme is now accepting applications from interested young people who meet the eligibility criteria. For more information, visit Raise Up online or contact the Raise Up coordinator at