Photo of a tui on a flax branch

Upwards is a social enterprise started by Christina Curley in late 2014, after she saw a need to teach young people life and social skills to bridge the gaps in New Zealand. Upwards went on to be a finalist project in the 2014 AMP National Scholarships, from over 2,000 entries, and is in development now. 

Upwards is a programme in groups led by facilitators, designed for Māori and Pasifika students aged 12-19 (and seeking to work in the ways which they learn), but accessible to all young people. It's based on a tikanga Māori approach around the whole person, and having agency in one's own life. 

Upwards is centred around the idea that everyone can be a hero, and the role of stories and leadership skills in a person's own heroic journey. We use the educational principles of Kotahitanga (co-creation and team-work) to work together and create shared outcomes, and have fun along the way.  

The Upwards logo is based on the tui (bird) playing in the harakeke (NZ flax bush), which represents the whānau (family). 

Upwards' Founder Christina has an extensive background in digital marketing, online education, PR and website creation across New Zealand, San Francisco and the UK. She previously managed the Practice programme (an online learning programme helping tens of thousands of novice drivers gain their restricted or full licence) for the NZ Transport Agency. 

From July - September 2015 Christina was part of the Lifehack Flourishing Fellowship, a cohort of people working in Aotearoa New Zealand to encourage youth wellbeing. Upwards' development was further strengthened by this work, and in November 2015 Upwards was one of three projects through Lifehack's four-week startup accelerator, Te Kōanga

We're looking for help to fund and run the first pilot programme, starting from September 2016. We're planning that this pilot will be 2 facilitators and 10 young people, coming together once a week for 10 weeks, between 4-7pm.  If you're:

  • A trained facilitator in the Wellington region with a background in teaching or youth development who can co-create the programme with Christina and the young people, and critically evaluate the outcomes (with help from others); or
  • A high school, community or marae working with young people you would like to support through the programme (ideally you'll also have access to a large kitchen where we can practice cooking yummy healthy food and sharing dinner together); 

Then please get in touch!  

 Upwards' sister programme is Savvy Up, an online course for new professionals coming into the office workforce, and their managers, to streamline on-boarding, training and development. It has been developed in partnership between Upwards and Savvy at Work. Get in touch with us to find out more about running Savvy Up with your young professionals.