PwC Jamaica has extended its investment in education and community partnership with a recent donation of $250,000 to Youth Reaching Youth (YRY), a faith-based independent school established in September 2001 by Swallowfield Chapel to provide empowerment and alternative pathways for at-risk youth, ages 16-21.
"At PwC we truly believe in the power of education as a vessel for transforming lives. Many of our children are negatively impacted by a multitude of socio-economic factors and, as such, we must lean into programmes like Youth Reaching Youth to ensure every child has an opportunity to learn, to lead, and to live a purpose-led life. We are delighted by YRY's approach in addressing the whole learner. So we hope that their programme will continue to grow and develop and that other corporate entities will collaborate with them on this journey," said Carolyn Bell-Wisdom, partner and sustainability leader at PwC Jamaica.
Utilising their signature MASS model (moral development, academic advancement, spiritual education, and social actions), YRY aims to ensure students are better prepared for higher learning and a professional career, while having the skills and opportunity to enrich their personal lives and contribute meaningfully to their families and communities.
The YRY curriculum offers 10 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and 10 Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects; the Caribbean Examinations Council diploma and the Caribbean Examinations Council associate degree; City and Guilds stages 1-3 in English, mathematics and customer service; spiritual enrichment; character-building; peer leadership training; life skills training; mentorship; vocational development (in collaboration with HEART/NSTA Trust), and community service.
According to Angela Plunkett, executive director of YRY, the programme has achieved tremendous success and can continue to do so with public and private partnership.
"Our recent study that tracked the progress of the students over a 10-year period revealed that between 60 to 80 per cent of each cohort matriculates to tertiary education and largely have become gainfully employed. However, 95 per cent of these students are from impoverished communities and are generally unable to afford the necessary funding to complete their secondary education. In order to help these young people to achieve their full potential, Youth Reaching Youth continues to seek sponsorship with individuals and companies to help in meeting the cost of their education," she said
One such success story comes from Asana Jacobs, a graduate from the very first cohort. Currently a guidance counsellor and year supervisor at Jamaica College, Jacobs attributes her current achievements to YRY.
"The experience helped to enhance my leadership qualities by fostering my emotional well-being while sharpening my spiritual alertness and helping me to truly understand who I am as a personâ€¦ It gently broke away my fears and uncertainties that I grappled with for years. This was paramount for me and the most beautiful thing that has happened in my life. What's more, as a trained teacher, social worker, guidance counsellor, and very soon, a professional in my private practice as an associate counselling psychologist, I can make better sense of how Youth Reaching Youth has helped in the packaging of the whole person."
With this year's cohort almost now at 100 students, a 30 per cent increase from last year, Plunkett also expressed thanks to PwC Jamaica for their support.
"We are, of course, delighted that PwC has not only seen the value in what we do through Youth Reaching Youth but has responded positively with this gracious donation. This financial commitment adds to the sustainability of this programme created for the moral, academic, spiritual, and social development of Jamaica's youth. It also allows us to do amazing work in the field of secondary education."
YRY is a member of the Jamaica Independent Schools Association and the Council of Voluntary Social Services. YRY is also registered with the Ministry of Education and Youth with partnership status in the ministry's Sixth Form Pathways Programme.