Increased support for youth impacted by COVID-19

Around 4,000 young New Zealanders negatively impacted by COVID-19 will get support to stay engaged or re-engage in their education journey, Minister for Youth Priyanca Radhakrishnan announced today.

The Ākonga Youth Development Community Fund – Strengthening Ākonga Resilience to Achieve Better Outcomes was set up in November last year as part of the Government’s response to COVID-19, to support rangatahi during the COVID recovery.

“Rangatahi have been faced with many difficulties as a result of the pandemic. This has been particularly evident in young people’s education, where alert level changes and associated school closures have presented learning challenges for ākonga and their whānau,” Minister Radhakrishnan said.

The results of an open tender will see 23 organisations across Aotearoa New Zealand receive over $7.4m to deliver community-based youth development programmes to over 4,000 young people around the country (see link below for full details and locations of initiatives).

They will be delivered outside of traditional education settings such as schools and kura and support ākonga/learners aged 12 to 21 years with wraparound services, from comprehensive mentoring and career navigation, to mental health and wellbeing assistance.

In addition to today’s announcement, five organisations last year received funding to support 1,500 ākonga through the same scheme, bringing the total number of youth assisted by this initiative to 5,500.

“Some of our young people are struggling to remain engaged with education. This fund represents a great opportunity for Iwi and community-based youth development organisations to work with ākonga to support them to stay connected and committed to their education, while also being active members of their whānau and community,” Priyanca Radhakrishnan said.

The work from the Ākonga Youth Development Community Fund, which sits outside of traditional school or kura settings, compliments work underway inside schools and kura to help young people engage or reengage with their learning.

Further information on funded organisations and initiatives can be found here.