Education
JM | Oct 7, 2021

NCB Foundation investing in students and the digital future

/ Our Today

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NCB Foundation launches first cohort of scholars focused on digital careers

 Murphine Garrick (left), branch manager, NCB Washington Boulevard, with Nathaniel Dakin, NCB Foundation parish champion for St Andrew, and his mother, Angela Campbell.

The NCB Foundation has answered the call to help alleviate the financial uncertainty of this 2021-2022 academic year for hundreds of students who will benefit from J$100 million in scholarships and grants courtesy of the Foundation.

With students across the island, from the primary to tertiary level, still adapting to the challenges of online learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, NCB Foundation continues to lend its support through its annual scholarship and grant programme in an effort to invest in students through education.

The Foundation has also placed a keen focus on students pursuing digital careers that will enable them to adapt to the ever-changing educational landscape, while still continuing their studies, pursuing their dreams, and increasing Jamaica’s pool of digital producers. 

Through this year’s application process, which was made fully digital as a result of the pandemic, NCB Foundation selected 15 scholars for the 2021 academic year – 12 parish champions, two national champions and one recipient of the Dr Rickert Allen Scholarship – as well as over 200 other primary, secondary and tertiary level students to benefit from this year’s investment.

Parish champions will be granted annual scholarships of J$300,000 for the duration of their studies, National champions will be granted annual scholarships of J$600,000 and the recipient of the Dr Rickert Allen Scholarship will receive a scholarship valued at J$600,000.

Nadeen Matthews Blair.

More than 100 tertiary grants of J$150,000 each were also awarded to other tertiary students, while over 100 primary and secondary book grants were awarded to students via Kingston Bookshop and Sangster’s Bookstore.

Nadeen Matthews-Blair, NCB Foundation CEO, shared: “Jamaica has no shortage of the raw talent and ingenuity required to make Jamaica a digital hub and to export our own digital products to the world. We see digitally transforming our society as a pathway to economic independence and vibrancy and as such we are prioritising investments in education that will expand the pool of digital producers in our country.”

Level Up Grant 

Part of this year’s overall programme is the Level Up Grant, a Foundation initiative in partnership with iCreate Institute and Internet Income Jamaica. The programme gives 3,000 Jamaicans the opportunity and training to upskill or reskill to improve their economic situation, especially at a time like this amid the numerous personal and financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 inaugural cohort was able to earn over US$100,000 despite the pandemic, and the Foundation and its partners have high hopes for even more success for this second cohort, with graduates already earning from their online businesses.

Programmes in the Level Up Grant Initiative include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing, E-Commerce, Email Marketing, Software Development and Graphic Design – all necessary and useful skills in levelling up one’s entrepreneurial journey as well as increasing the overall digital literacy of the next generation.

Dominic Summers, president of iCreate Institute. (Photo: Contributed)

The continued focus on digital seeks to empower Jamaicans to create digital solutions that solve local and global challenges, to become financially independent and literate, and to be resilient in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, and complex world. 

Dominic Summers, president at the iCreate Institute, shared why digital upskilling is so important in today’s world. 

“The digital business transformation that was once a luxury is now a necessity, a matter of survival for organisations of all sizes. The problem most face, however, is that a business cannot transform without the skilled individuals needed to integrate new technology into their operations. Upskilling programmes like NCB Foundation’s ‘Level Up’ help to bridge this exact gap, empowering a new generation of problem solvers to take hold of this massive opportunity,” Summers said.

“At iCreate, we are proud to partner on this initiative to provide them with the necessary tools and resources to do so. Our people are our greatest resource. Trust and investment in them will help us to get from here, to our most ambitious goals as a growing nation.”

Alicia Lyttle, CEO of Internet Income JA.

According to Alicia Lyttle, CEO of Internet Income JA: “A lot of the students that came into our programme had lost their jobs due to the pandemic. They were struggling to make ends meet, they couldn’t feed their families. Within six weeks, they were able to create a new start for themselves. They became their own bosses, making their own money, making US dollars.

“The pandemic forced us all into a digital space, whether we were ready for it or not, which is why digital upskilling is so critical in today’s world. Jamaica is now on the map as a country where you can source highly skilled digital professionals and we are proud to partner with NCB Foundation to help uplift and empower so many young people to create opportunities for themselves. Students of the Level Up Programme will be in high demand with their new skillset and will help to bolster Jamaica’s digital transformation. Imagine where Jamaica will be as a nation in five or 10 years from now as we continue this impactful programme.” 

DREAMS OF TRANSFORMING JAMAICA

This year’s NCB Foundation scholars across all initiatives have dreams of transforming Jamaica’s future, from alternate renewable energy solutions to entrepreneurship as a means of tackling unemployment to combating climate change.

“In developing countries, the rapid expansion of technology, fueled by the Internet, has resulted in favourable cultural shifts. Easier, faster communication has aided in the development of democracy and the reduction of poverty. All in all, digital and technological development and adoption will result in key contributions to the economic and socio-cultural development of our nation which will, in turn, be even more beneficial to the future of Jamaica,” noted Nathaniel Dakin, this year’s parish champion for St Andrew. 

Tertiary applicants for 2021 included some of Jamaica’s future digital creators, pursuing careers in areas like software development, engineering, user experience, biotechnology, animation, cyber-security, data science and analytics, artificial intelligence and video game development to name a few.

With a bright future ahead, and their intent to fuel Jamaica’s digital transformation, NCB Foundation looks forward to partnering with local and international organisations to support their students and make this bold aspiration a reality.

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