GraceKennedy puts over $52 million into education
DESPITE the tough economic climate which existed in 2013, GraceKennedy, through its GraceKennedy Foundation and Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, invested over $52 million in education and education-related expenses last year.
Of that sum, the GraceKennedy Foundation, established in 1982 to mark the company's 60th anniversary, invested some $32.6 million in scholarships and bursaries at the University of the West Indies, University of Technology and the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, among other institutions. The foundation also provided grants to several schools as part of refurbishment or improvement projects. Listed also among its major expenses was its public Annual lecture series. Ten million dollars was also allotted for the two chairs funded by the foundation at the University of the West Indies in Environmental Development and Management Studies.
Through the assistance given at the tertiary and secondary levels, skills training, student support, student medical and its five homework centres, the company's community outreach arm, the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, invested some $19.54 million. Unlike the GraceKennedy Foundation which is corporate-endowed, Grace and Staff's expenses are covered by voluntary contributions from GraceKennedy staff members, which are then matched two to one by the company. The Foundation also stages its annual Education Run, with proceeds going to the furtherance of inner-city education programmes. Grace and Staff was established in 1979 in response to the social and economic conditions existing in inner-city communities.
"We are happy to make a difference," said Executive Director of the GraceKennedy Foundation, Caroline Mahfood. "I wish we could do more, because the need is so great."
Her sentiments were echoed by General Manager of the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, Frances Madden.
"As much as we try to do, sometimes it seems like a drop in the bucket. But we keep going because we see the difference being made in the communities in and around which we operate. It's good for Jamaica, so we won't be deterred," she said.
They both underscored the need for corporate Jamaica to get more involved in the education of Jamaica's youth.
"We are proud to work with a company that cares, and we would love for more companies to get involved," said Madden.
"That's really the best way to see the results we want to see and get closer to becoming the Jamaica that we all envision for our children and our children's children."