The nonprofit organisation, American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ) recently presented 24 grant awards totalling approximately J$90 million (US$600,000) to local charity organisations that focus on education, healthcare, and economic development.
Among the recipients were the Institute of Jamaica, Pocket Rocket Foundation, Kingston Creative, Jamaica Cancer Society, Project STAR, We Care for Cornwall Regional Hospital, Hope Zoo, Church Teachers College and the Issa Trust Foundation.
The education sector accounted for 60 per cent of this year’s grant awardees.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony held at the United States Embassy in Kingston on Tuesday (May 2), Minister of Education Fayval Williams, expressed gratitude to the AJF for its contribution to development initiatives, especially in the education sector.
“Giving back is important to make a positive impact on life, to support education and healthcare initiatives, to promote growth in communities and to foster a sense of community and connection in the lives of others,” Williams said.
She expressed confidence in the selected organisations noting that they will utilise the funds to create significant and positive impact on their community.
“I support and recognise the importance of empowering Jamaicans to realise their full potential and that these grants will help them to have a brighter future,” she added.
Wendy Hart, president of AFJ, noted that the 40-year charity has made significant strides in strategically connecting resources in the US to worthwhile causes in Jamaica.
The organisation comprises several US ambassadors to Jamaica and other prominent persons who are inspired by a common love for Jamaica and a vision for the count.
“For nearly 40 years, the AFJ has developed an extensive network of donors, partners and grantee organisations that uniquely positions the organization to effectively mobilise and distribute resources for change where it counts. AFJ recognizes its fiduciary responsibility, and its work is deeply rooted in accountability and transparency,” Hart said.
The AFJ board of directors seek to tap into the network of support provided by American multinational corporations with commercial interests in Jamaica, American winter residents, members of the diplomatic corps and Jamaicans living overseas as well as the various other individuals with a dedication to the economic and cultural sustainability of the beautiful island nation of Jamaica.
In February this year, the annual AFJ grant cycle closed with 54 discretionary grant application submissions. The grants presented at the Grant Awards ceremony forms part of nearly US$1 million in funds from the AFJ to grantees in Jamaica this year.
The AFJ Grant Cycle begins at the end of each year and grants are disbursed in April of the following year.
One of this year’s recipients, A New Jamaica of Peace Foundation, which empowers the youth of Arnett Gardens, and Trench Town to make better life choices was happy for the grant donation. The foundation offers free classes in education, the arts and skills training.
“We are feeling very blessed and grateful. We work with the youth, and as we grow with them, we have added different components. As we try to give them more, they need more investments. We have to take seriously in investing in our youth. We do not want another generation to become involved in crime and criminality,” said Clarion Phillpotts, founder and managing director of the foundation.
Ambassador Sue Cobb scholarship
Javanna Campbell, Ambassador Sue Cobb scholar at the University of the West Indies, speaking on behalf the other scholarship recipients said their education was made possible by the many donors that supported the AFJ.
“Your support has empowered us to pursue our dreams. We are taking full advantage of this opportunity, and encourage persons to continue supporting the AFJ so that they can continue to assist others to realize their full potential,” Campbell said.
Also present at the ceremony were US Ambassador to Jamaica Nick Perry, and Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, former AFJ director.