It's one year since we launched the NEXT Foundation, an ambitious, $100 million, strategic philanthropy initiative to invest in a small number of large-scale projects in the environmental and education sector. With four major partnerships underway and an active process to look for more, NEXT Foundation has had privileged insight into the hearts and minds of all that is good about New Zealand and New Zealanders.
So what have we learned from this insight? Frankly, that there is an abundance of great ideas, entrepreneurialism, passion, community service and a shared belief in a way to a better New Zealand.
We’ve also learned that our philosophy of strategic philanthropy is resonating with the people on the ground doing the hard work. We believe our focus on a few major initiatives over the next 10 years can help shape this country for future generations; together with supporting those dedicated and passionate people who see it as their responsibility to leave the country in better shape for our grandchildren.
This past year’s initiatives address critical issues for New Zealand’s future - Zero Invasive Predators, or ZIP, which aims to regenerate our native birdlife with the ultimate goal of creating a predator-free New Zealand; Te Awaroa, which hopes to dramatically improve the quality of our rivers through collaboration with communities; The Mind Lab by Unitec, which offers 800 NEXT Generation Teacher Scholarships for its digital literacy Postgraduate Programme; and The Springboard Trust and its leadership development for school principals together with research on the impact of Springboard Trust’s programmes by New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER).
"Backing leaders who can deliver results is a key part of our decision to support a project."
The ZIP initiative in particular represented what we believe is a great model for New Zealand – public sector, private enterprise and the philanthropy working collaboratively to achieve a significant result for our country.
We consider these initiatives long term partnerships that are built around great leaders including the likes of Ian Narev, Chair of SpringBoard Trust and CEO of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Dame Anne Salmond, Patron of Te Awaroa, Al Bramley, CEO of ZIP and Frances Valintine, Chair of The Mind Lab. Backing leaders who can deliver results is a key part of our decision to support a project.
Earlier this year we announced one of the most significant private-public-philanthropic partnerships in our country’s conservation history. Our shared goal is ambitious: completely removing on a permanent basis rats, stoats and possums from large areas of New Zealand. The partnership brings together five major dairy companies – Fonterra, Open Country, Synlait, Tatua and Westland Milk – industry organisation OSPRI, the two Morgan entrepreneurs, Sam and Gareth, the Department of Conservation and NEXT Foundation.
Collectively the partners believe the protection and conservation of the environment is critical to New Zealand. Our environment strikes at the core of our national identity and economic development. Accelerating the development of innovative solutions to protect New Zealand’s unique biodiversity will be good for our economy, our national identity and the environment we all value so highly. A whole nation approach is needed to create innovative and sustainable ways to address the issue.
We do not underestimate the size of the challenges in the education or environmental field, or the long term nature of these challenges. We know they won’t be solved quickly or easily. However we have high hopes that new partnerships that bring expertise and leadership, capital and resources and a network of relationships together will give us the best possible chance of winning and making an impact.
NEXT Foundation’s expressions of Interest are open until 3pm on June 26, 2015. This year’s applications will be completed online directly from NEXT Foundation’s website. Check here for more information about the initiatives we are looking for from this year's projects.
Chris Liddell is Chairman of NEXT Foundation, which seeks to create a legacy of environmental and educational excellence for future generations www.nextfoundation.org.nz.