Introducing Kirk Sargent, the CEO of First Foundation, a New Zealand-based charity committed to empowering talented disadvantaged young people to reach their full potential, and lead positive and fulfilling lives.
First Foundation achieves this through a comprehensive approach that includes providing financial assistance, paid work experience, and dedicated mentorship to bright young Kiwis who face challenges in accessing higher education.
Originally from Taranaki, a region in the west of New Zealand's North Island, Kirk now resides in Auckland, where the charity's headquarters are located. With a diverse career background spanning land, construction, and purpose-driven work, Kirk brings a wealth of experience to his role.
Having worked in various countries including Fiji, Hawaii, Australia, the UK, and New Zealand, Kirk has witnessed first-hand the transformative power of entrepreneurial and innovative approaches in addressing social and environmental issues. These experiences have fostered in him a deep sense of empathy for different cultures and a resolute determination to contribute to a better world. First Foundation was established in 1998 by respected business leader Steven Carden, who recently re-joined the board of trustees to utilise his skills and experience in ensuring the charity's continued success and the well-being of the young people it supports.
Kirk acknowledges the numerous challenges faced by non-profit leaders, particularly the limited access to resources and funding. However, he expresses gratitude for the dedicated group of donors and corporate supporters who share the organisation's vision and contribute to First Foundation's important work. Kirk also highlights the challenging economic and social realities that underscore the value of First Foundation's efforts, especially considering the burden of student loans on individuals from low-income families. By providing financial assistance and removing barriers, First Foundation goes beyond covering university costs. Their support offers students and their families a sense of opportunity and acts as a powerful incentive for pursuing higher education.
Kirk talks about their goal to create a positive ripple effect that extends through generations. First Foundation scholars, often the first in their family to attend university, testify to the life-changing impact of the support provided by the charity's partners. Additionally, many scholars utilise their improved financial situations to support their parents, siblings, and wider family, further amplifying the far-reaching effects of contributions.