THE VM Foundation is bolstering its focus on social entrepreneurship through the VM EnRich Project, to better prepare high school students with the skills needed to navigate the increasingly globalised marketplace. There is an intensified emphasis on easing the transition for students exiting high school and then manoeuvring global spaces. Combining the principles of social entrepreneurship, financial education, and leadership are important for the holistic development of students.
VM EnRich is a social enterprise in secondary schools project that builds on a former VM Foundation partnership with the British Council that was implemented from 2018 to 2021. That project initially targeted 300 students from grades seven to nine, and 24 teachers from six schools in its first year of implementation as a pilot. The project reached a total of 16,000 students from grades seven to nine and 272 teachers from 50 schools over the three years of the first phase.
"VM Foundation EnRich wants to equip the next generation of thinkers and doers with the right cadre of skills to solve key social, economic, and environmental problems through ethical business practices and sustainable business models while helping them to launch their own social enterprises," said Samantha Charles, CEO of the VM Foundation.
This academic year the VM EnRich project is maintaining its focus on students from grades seven to nine across five schools — Clan Carthy High School, Cumberland High School, Charlie Smith High School, Holy Trinity High School, and Gaynstead High School. The six-week curriculum includes modules on the key elements of social entrepreneurship — communication and collaboration; creativity and imagination; and big ideas around citizenship. Additionally, there is a significant emphasis on financial literacy. The students are taught the basic principles of financial management and are taught how to financially manage their businesses. The VM Foundation is also partnering with We Imagine Jamaica to include lessons on leadership as a key component of the curriculum. We Imagine Jamaica is an organisation established to foster and promote civil society participation in areas important to national development.
The aim is for the VM EnRich project to expand its reach, with more secondary schools from across the country applying to be a part of the initiative. Ultimately, the goal is for a permanent build out via school clubs at the end of the six weeks.
Charles added: "It's very important to provide pathways for students to move on their ideas so we're particularly excited to see how students will use the skills they will acquire to establish social enterprises within their schools and ultimately become changemakers. We are also happy to be able to teach them fundamental financial education principles that will guide them throughout their lives."