D&G Foundation gives $1-million grants to Surrey service organisations
Following a rigorous selection process, the Eastwood Gardens Youth for Progress Youth Club and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Social Work Training and Research Centre copped the two $1-million grants for the county of Surrey in the Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) Foundation's '6 for 60' competition.
Happy for the endowments, the members of the two St Andrew-based organisations have already started taking action to expand their respective footprints in their communities.
The Eastwood Garden's Youth for Progress Youth Club in Cassia Park was founded in 2014 to address the community's low Grade Six Achievement Test pass rate. As the membership grew, so did the need for space, which led members to construct a community library with the help of sponsors and volunteers. Over time, the club's activities expanded to include outreach, Christmas and back-to-school treats, quiz competitions, a recycling project, and community pageants. The library also offered Internet connectivity for students during the pandemic. The grant will help to renovate the building, replace furniture, and purchase tablets, an AC unit and a PA system for hosting events.
Club member Keino Brown beamed with pride as he discussed the experience as part of the '6 for 60' competition.
"A friend shared the poster and encouraged me to apply, because she knew our plans for the centre and the ongoing challenges with funding those upgrades. Although we are a youth club, our role in the community is significant. Our neighbourhood is very volatile, and the issues in the community affect the kids. As a result, we moved beyond only offering GSAT prep to take on many initiatives to improve the community and increase camaraderie."
Expressing his gratitude to the D&G Foundation, Brown said, "This prize money is a real blessing, and it will advance the programme in ways you could not imagine. Even the little things make a difference. We can now purchase a printer for the students, who would normally travel to Half-Way Tree or further to get their assignments printed."
The UWI centre's One Step Away from Greatness project includes critical infrastructural repairs to the facility that provides on-campus accommodation for students from low-income or marginalised communities, wards of the State, and other communities served by the university. The building upgrades will help to create a sustainable, comfortable, safe and aesthetically pleasing environment for residents. The building was shuttered in July 2021 due to disrepair. The fully renovated facility will include an expanded kitchen and laundry area, additional bathrooms and other amenities, such as a study and common area, that will improve the student experience.
Cerita Buchanan, from the centre, celebrated the win and said that the team was eager to make progress on the repair project.
"The cost of housing is a challenge for several groups of students at UWI, particularly those who live outside of Kingston. It was therefore a huge blow to our work when we shut down the facility in 2021, because it wasn't safe for residents. This grant has filled us with the hope that we can once again provide a home for those who need the centre the most. At full capacity, we can house 35-40 students; that's 35-40 students with less financial burdens who can now focus on their studies."
She continued, "Before learning about the '6 for 60' competition, we searched for persons and organisations to invest in us and support our work. When this opportunity came to our attention, we knew we had to present the best case possible. Many thanks to the D&G Foundation, and those who believed in our case and voted for our project on social media."