Women's projects get over US$100,000 in grants

Friday, April 05, 2019

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Some representatives pitching for the US Embassy's Women's History Month grant were understandably nervous. After all, the 10 not-for-profit organisations were competing for five awards of US$20,000 each to help keep their projects running.

At the end of the lively, informative and interactive pitching session on March 27 at The University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters in St Andrew, the five projects chosen were:

• Girls Up, which aims to empower girls and women in six communities — Hannah Town, Denham Town, Trench Town, Tivoli Gardens, Fletcher's Land, and Parade Gardens — to defend themselves, raise their voices on gender-specific security concerns, and advocate that these concerns be addressed in the State's school safety and security plans;

• Downtown Girls Theatre Project, which proposes to use theatre to transform young women's lives by working together to build a supportive community through storytelling, engaging in social justice education and creating performance pieces;

• We “R” Different, a skills training endeavour for people with disabilities run by the Abilities Foundation;

• My Body, My Responsibility, run by St Patrick's Foundation in Seaview Gardens and designed to have young women and girls think about their reproductive health and how to take control and full ownership of their sexuality; and

• From the Barber Chair, a Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network initiative that will initially train 25 barbers in 10 barber shops in Kingston, St Andrew, and Montego Bay to disseminate health education targeting gender-based violence, HIV/Aids and mental health through the use of information, education, and communication material, focus groups, and rap sessions.

Women for Work, Innovation and Development Opportunities, run by UWI, Mona Social Services, won the competition's online vote and as such was presented a US$5,000 grant.

Applicants were required to design and implement a programme that seeks to empower the voices of and address issues that affect girls and women in the areas of education, health, security, civic and political engagement, business, and agriculture.

After the presentations, US businesswoman and philanthropist Michelle Rollins, who was one of the five judges, presented surprise seed funding of US$1,000 each to four projects — She Takes the Lead, run by Women of Unlimited Worth; The Beetique Zone, operated by Beetique Industries; Investing in STEM to Facilitate Women Planting their Roots, operated by A Classy Lady of Science; and Improving Women's Political Participation in Jamaica, operated by UWI Open Campus.

The other judges were Jeremiah Knight, counselor for public affairs at the US Embassy; Marcia Forbes, executive chair Phase 3; Gizelle Riley, development and communications manager, Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, Caribbean; and Vernon Davidson, executive editor - publications, Jamaica Observer.

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