The Story of Raise Foundation by Vicki Condon AM, CEO and Founder

The theme for International Youth Day this year is “Intergenerational solidarity – creating a world for all ages” and at Raise Foundation, this is something that we put into practise every day.

The theme for International Youth Day this year is "Intergenerational solidarity - creating a world for all ages” and at Raise Foundation, this is something that we put into practise every day.

Teenage years are tough 

Death by suicide continues to be the leading cause of death for young people and, worryingly, studies consistently find that young people are the least likely group to ask for professional help. Adolescence is notorious for being a challenging time and fast paced technology, societal changes and a global pandemic have only added to the complexity of it all for today's teens. 

We know that 1 in 4 young people feel lonely all or most of the time, 1 in 6 young people feel negative or very negative about the future and a recent report indicates that 1 in 4 young people will experience bullying at school. We are in a growing crisis, schools are struggling, and young people need access to support with their wellbeing and mental health. 

In the beginning 

When I turned 40, my midlife crisis involved writing a business plan for a community support organisation that I hoped would make a significant difference in the lives of young Australians. Life took over and I put the business plan away in my bottom drawer, thinking that Australia had enough charities already.  It was a few months later that our family experienced the death by suicide of a young family friend and it struck me, my husband and many people we care for.  

It started with one 

It was that day, almost 14 years ago, that I pulled out that business plan, thinking if we could help just one young person it would be worth it. With a background in counselling and knowledge of the growing research in the power of mentoring, my plan was to support young people by providing them with a caring, trusted, independent mentor – someone who shows up on a regular basis just for them.  Young people need to be heard, they need to have a voice and importantly they need the skills to be able to ask for help and accept it. 

We’ve grown year on year from being just me in my home office to a team of over 100 experts in our field.  Everyone at Raise has one thing in common, extreme passion to help young people find that purposeful path. Together, even through the pandemic, we increased the number of young people who were matched with a Raise mentor in our program from 1,321 in 2020 to 2,124 last year. 

We keep expanding because we know mentoring works 

Research shows that young people who are mentored have lower levels of depression, a higher sense of wellbeing, know where to go for support, are more likely to find employment and are more able to get on to their chosen life path. 

Raise youth mentoring programs deliver early intervention, evidence-based mentoring for young people, typically aged 13-15 in high schools with trained and trusted independent adults. We see the joy at the end of our programs – young people graduating the program have purpose, they know how to ask for help, they have increased resilience, they have hope for the future and a sense of school belonging. 74% of our mentees said the program helped them with issues they faced – issues like depression, anxiety, bullying, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, discrimination and disordered eating. 

From 1 to 10,000  

We aspire to create thriving communities by delivering mentoring programs right across Australia, with the ambition to help as many young people as possible. This year we are running over 180 programs, across 6 states in 163 schools and have trained over 7,000 mentors in total.  Starting out with a plan to help at least one young person, you can imagine how thrilled we all were when during this year’s program we matched our 10,000th young person with a Raise Mentor. In fact, we have now matched over 10,500 young people with a mentor, so far. 

A huge thank you  

We could not have done this without you, and we are incredibly grateful to everyone who supports Raise. It would not be possible without the volunteer mentors, staff team, funding partners, supporters, Board, advisory councils and ambassadors.  

We have an ambitious plan to offer our program to as many high schools as possible across Australia, offering our program to all young people who would benefit most from the support of a mentor. There are so many exciting ways to work with Raise and improve the lives of young people.

The unique thing about mentoring is that it is as rewarding for the mentor as it is for the mentee! If you’re keen to get involved and help us reach 20,000 young people or more, head to our website and sign up to mentor, make a donation, or let schools know they can apply now.

Thank you to everyone for your incredible part in this journey and making it possible to mentor over 10,500 young people – young people who now have a back-pack full of tools and skills they can carry through life and access whenever they need them. 



Pride flag Australian Aboriginal flag Torres Strait Island flag ACNC Registered Charity tick NSW Education QA seal Govt of South Australia - Dept for Education logo