Upwards is an evidence-based intervention for young people. Our theory of change is that if we equip, empower and uplift young people with the social and emotional tools they need as adults, they will become more resilient and have better long-term life outcomes. 

This is based on two core, research-backed principles:

  1. Social and emotional skills impact learning: Social and emotional learning (SEL) is proven by research to raise the achievement of young people academically by 11 to 17 percentage points, and hence improve life outcomes.

  2. Students will do better when their unique cultural backgrounds are valued: Te Kotahitanga is a New Zealand-based, evidence-backed intervention currently running in 49 schools around Aotearoa NZ (which may overlap with those in later iteration Kia Eke Panuku).

Upwards operates from a strengths-based (e.g. as promoted by the Ministry of Youth Development), not deficit, approach. This means that we tailor our programmes to meet the specific needs of our young people and lift them up.


Ngā pou manawa

Together, these are integrated into a tikanga Māori leadership framework. The guiding principle in Upwards is respect for all people, which spills into our operating value of manaakitanga (hospitality and taking care of people).