Project K is a free youth development programme in New Zealand, targeted at inspiring 13-15 year olds to reach their full potential. Founded by New Zealanders Graeme Dingle and Jo-anne Wilkinson in 1995, the programme was developed as a catalyst for promoting positive change in teenagers who sought some direction in life.

Through a 14 month programme consisting of three core components; a wilderness adventure, community challenge and mentoring, students learn self reliance, teamwork, self confidence, perseverance and how to set and achieve goals. Based on leading research from educationalists and youth workers, Project K is run in participating schools and delivered through licensees across the country, keeping the focus community driven.

The wilderness adventure consists of a three-week outdoors experience that develops key life skills. Students participate in a number of activities that can include kayaking, abseiling, tramping and camping, as well as participating in camp-based learning.

The next step in the programme is the community challenge, where students adapt lessons from the wilderness and use them in their community to explore local resources, opportunities and offer support. This helps students to build stronger links with their community by meeting with key local figures, and visiting community organizations such as the local council and emergency services.

The final step in the programme is Project K Mentoring, where carefully screened and trained mentors are paired with students for 12 months to help support them in setting specific goals and achieving them. Meeting fortnightly and having regular contact by phone or email, mentors offer friendly advice and help promote positive changes in the students.

As a result of participating in Project K, many students have experienced increased self-esteem; they stayed in school longer and displayed improved attitudes and behaviour in the classroom and the wider community. Many graduates have achieved far more than they dreamed possible.

“It’s definitely given me more confidence, more belief in myself. I definitely made some absolutely fantastic friends. And I got heaps of new skills, like goal setting.” Lauren, Project K graduate.

“It’s an enormously satisfying and wonderful experience. You help young New Zealanders achieve their goals and watch them discover the opportunities the world holds. At the same time you’re developing your own leadership qualities. I’d recommend mentoring – it’s a great way to give back to the community, get involved and really make a difference.” John Frear, Mentor.

For more information or if you would be interested in becoming a mentor or making a donation please visit or email


This is how far your money can go:

Sponsor a student $4000
As students do not pay to take part, all costs are covered through fundraising, sponsorships and donations. The costs for putting each student this life changing, 14-month programme include the three-week wilderness experience with qualified facilitators, two weeks of community activities, programme support and administrative costs during the year of mentoring. Make a difference in a young person’s life

Sponsor a mentor $2000
Mentors play a key role in helping students realize the goals they set. Having a mentor helps young people stay focused, and provides a valuable sounding board. The costs include mentor recruiting, screening, training and ongoing support for 12 months. Mentors generously volunteer a year to support a Project K student. Can you help them?

Supporting a student for a month on a wilderness experience $1800

Supporting a student towards a community activity $500

Supporting a student over mentoring $1700

Training a mentor $750

A month of Project K support $250

Sponsoring a student to attend the Project K excellence awards $1000

Sponsoring a mentor to attend graduation $200

Sponsor a parent/ caregiver of a student to attend the Project K Excellence Awards $200

All donations gratefully received as every dollar counts!

  There are two ways you can donate to Project K:


1. A secure online donation using  



2. Send a check to:

Attention NZ Underfoot
Foundation for Youth Development
PO Box 303 287
North Harbour
Auckland, 0751
New Zealand

please make checks payable to:
Foundation for Youth Development