Inspire Foundation

Supporting the dreams of young Cantabrians

  • Inspire Foundation

    Paul Wright (centre) with Inspire Foundation funding recipients Anton Cooper and Sophie Pascoe.

The Inspire Foundation is a charitable trust that was established in 2011 by a group of Christchurch business people to recognise and reward extraordinary, talented young Cantabrians.

“We are committed to the promotion of the Canterbury region, its people and its future by providing direct support to young, talented people through recognition, reward and personal development programmes,” says co-founder Paul Wright.

The Foundation’s first recipient was Para-Olympian swimmer Sophie Pascoe. For Paul, supporting Sophie’s quest for winning gold at the 2012 Para-Olympics was a perfect way to launch the organisation. “Sophie’s training pool had been destroyed in the earthquakes and with our support, she was able to travel to the North Island to continue her training,” he explains.

To qualify for funding, applicants must be aged between 15 and 23, have lived in Canterbury for at least three years and have “exceptional talent” or show “extraordinary potential” in any area they choose, whether it be art, sport, music, technology, teaching or community involvement.

“We support young people to achieve their dreams and fund many of the things other foundations and funding agencies don’t,” says Paul. “Our assistance comes in the form of grants to fund the widest array of requests including overseas travel, courses, tuition, equipment or projects.”

In the past three years, the Inspire Foundation has handed out over $400,000 to more than one hundred recipients. Some of the most well-known names in Canterbury gave early support to the Foundation by agreeing to join the crusade as Ambassadors, including cyclist Hayden Roulston, singer Hayley Westenra and rower Georgina Evers-Swindell (Earl).

The latest funding round has seen 14 Cantabrians receive assistance. Shotputter Tom Walsh and ‘Cricket Live’ founder Alex Reese were amongst the list of recipients, which also included a rhythmic gymnast, a jazz musician and a rower.

Inspire Foundation’s funding model is different to most other agencies; it will only fund individuals, not groups and will re-grant money to previous recipients who continue to excel, as Paul explains.

“Most foundations have a mandate to give to other charitable organisations or community groups. They’re very worthy groups but there wasn’t any agency available to fund individuals in their pursuits of excellence. Bob Davison and I put our heads together and came up with the idea of the Inspire Foundation, where we can help young people achieve their dreams, no matter what field they are in.”

Donations are sourced purely from Inspire Foundation members and sponsors, which include business corporations, families and individuals. 100 percent of donations received is given out as grants, with roles within the Foundation purely voluntary. One of the initial supporters of Inspire Foundation was Moore Stephens Markhams director Paul Rickerby.

“Paul has been a huge supporter of the Foundation since day one. We had collected together a group of Canterbury business people to establish the organisation and Paul committed Moore Stephens Markhams to handle the financial side of the Foundation’s business. He recognised the Foundation’s potential and with all of the financial management taken care of, we can focus on raising money and recruiting new members to join the organisation,” says Paul.

Along with Leanne Chapman, Paul Rickerby handles all of Inspire Foundation’s finances including audits and reporting, and the Foundation’s business planning meetings are held at the Moore Stephens Markhams offices.

Paul Wright cannot believe how well Inspire Foundation has gone in its first three years. The work he does at the Foundation sits alongside his many other roles including Chair of Harcourts International and his advisory roles in a number of Canterbury-based businesses.

“We are all very passionate about nurturing talent and giving our future leaders opportunities to grow.”

Published Summer 2014.

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