15 Social Impact Projects Get Close to $1.5 Million Each

Fifteen social impact projects to be undertaken by 11 JN Circle Chapters across the country have each received a grant of up to $1.5 million from the JN Foundation.

JN Circle Ocho Rios, Port Maria and Gayle received grants for a total of four projects; while Westmoreland, Spanish Town, and Morant Bay received grants for two projects each, and Mandeville, Junction, Lucea and Santa Cruz were each awarded grants for single initiatives. 

Claudine Allen, general manager, JN Foundation, explained that the projects were selected based on defined set of criteria to include the innovativeness, impact, feasibility and sustainability of projects, as well as the extent to which the groups collaborate with others within the JN Circle network and external partners to implement the initiatives.

“In selecting the successful applicant, we looked at the originality and creativity in addressing societal or community challenges. We also looked at the expected outcomes and the potential to create positive change. The groups were also required to present a realistic and achievable plan, as well as show evidence of long-term viability and potential for ongoing impact beyond the grant period. There was also a requirement for collaboration among the JN Circle Network or external partners,” she outlined.

“I am happy for all of you because I know the journey, and I want to say congratulations… because the application process demanded you package your ideas according to world class standards. Well done to all of you,” she told Circle members at a recent luncheon in St Ann where the awards were announced.

The JN Circle is a transnational network of JN members and customers who, by leveraging the JN network, serve as advocates and community change agents to improve their own lives and positively impact their communities. There are some 16 JN Circle Chapters spread across all parishes across Jamaica. The network also thrives in Toronto, Canada and London, England. 

Pixley Irons, president, JN Circle Ocho Rios, Port Maria and Gayle, whose Chapter received four grants, said his group is passionate about education and submitted proposals geared towards addressing education challenges in his locale.

“We submitted proposals for a rainwater harvesting system for Ferncourt High School; repairs to be done on Gayle Primary Reading Room; Jeffrey Town Basic School had asked us for some appliances; and the refurbishing of the Clapham Basic School. We asked members of our Circle to ask around the communities to see what projects were there that we could undertake. When we got the feedback, we got more projects than we could assist and we shortlisted these,” he outlined.

“There are many things that need to be done but we placed special emphasis on education because it is important. We need our students to be comfortable in their environment. All our projects surround educational institutions, and we are pleased that we were able to submit these projects and they qualified for a grant from the JN Foundation,” he added.

Among the other projects to benefit from individual grants were JN Circle Port Antonio to furnish the Port Antonio Women’s Centre; JN Circle Mandeville to install a solar water heating system for a homeless shelter in Manchester and JN Circle Junction to introduce a reading programme in Alligator Pond, Manchester.

JN Circle Westmoreland also received funding to refurbish the Paul Island Basic School and to upgrade the Hatfield Basic School in the parish; JN Circle Spanish Town received funding for an environment project targeted to youth in Spanish Town, St Catherine, and JN Circle Morant Bay were presented with funds for a Digital Access Project for the St Thomas Parish Library and to establish a playground at the Chapel Hill Basic School. JN Circle Lucea will use its funds for the Maryland Basic School Playground, and JN Circle Santa Cruz will develop a playground at the Northampton Basic School so that the institution can receive certification from the Early Childhood Commission (ECC). The Santa Cruz Circle will also upgrade the Goshen Primary School so it can be certified by the ECC.

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Exceptional Scholars Recognised by JN Foundation

Photo Caption: Top of the Class recipients of the JN Foundation Scholarship Programme, Gabrielle Numa (second left at front) of Campion College and Taevion Morgan (second right at front) take a group photo with JN Group management team and their parents.

Five outstanding JN Scholars who performed exceptionally well at the end of the academic year 2022-2023 were celebrated by the JN Foundation, at a luncheon dubbed ‘Top of the Class’, recently at The Jamaica National Group’s Corporate Office on Oxford Road in Kingston.

JN Foundation awards outstanding students who performed admirably in the grade six (PEP Exams) with annual grants valued at $50,000 for the first five years of secondary study, on the condition that they maintain set academic performance standards.

Miss Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation notes the Foundation aims to add value for scholars.

“The JN Foundation will ensure that your journey with us is rewarding, and one of the things we will focus on is the building of character by helping you to show up in spaces with confidence and to articulate and present yourself well,” she informed students at the luncheon with guests such as the chairman of the JN Foundation, Parris Lyew-Ayee; the JN Group chief executive officer, Earl Jarrett and other JN senior managers and parents.

The students were commended by Mr Jarrett, who encouraged them to be all-rounders and to get involved in extracurricular activities.

“Seek to find opportunities where you can be part of a team, whether in sports or volunteering, in areas that support your ambitions. These are important things that we should do, as one needs to be able to share,” he pointed out.

Mr Jarrett urged the students to adopt good values such as dependability, authenticity, respect, and transparency, which he said are the values that The Jamaica National Group embraces.

“They are simple words, but if you live them every day, it will make a big difference,” he pointed out.

Jermaine Nairne, senior manager, Talent Performance and Culture at The Jamaica National Group, congratulated the students and encouraged them to make the most of their high school years.

“In making the most of your journey, ensure that you demonstrate humanity. So, one of the repeaters of sustained success is your emotional intelligence. Ensure that you are deliberate about working on your emotional intelligence, and that is your awareness of self, management of self and how you manage your relationships with others,” he advised.

Shereen Jones, assistant general manager, and chief information officer at The Jamaica National Group, commended the students and encouraged them to focus on being well-rounded individuals.

“The academics demonstrate your capacity to do well, and it will get you into a job, but the truth of the matter is that your growth potential, how far you will go, and  how well you succeed are going to be dependent on a number of things we call the soft skills, and how rounded you are is going to depend on how well you work with others,” she said.

Lead, Youth and Education Programmes at the JN Foundation, Shanna Kaye Wright Vaughn, said the ‘Top-of-the-Class’ initiative was conceptualised to encourage the JN Scholars and their parents to continue to aim for and to celebrate success.

“We are looking forward to greater things in 2024, as we seek to interact more with our scholars,” she said, noting that there will be initiatives such as mentorship opportunities and financial literacy activities for the JN scholars.

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Ky-Lee Dyce Makes Family proud with JN Scholarship

Photo Caption: Parris Lyew-Ayee (left), chairman of the JN Foundation presents Ky-Lee Dyce with her certificate at the JN Foundations PEP Scholarship Awards ceremony, recently.

Twelve-Year-old Ky-Lee Dyce, JN Scholarship recipient for the parish of St Thomas is an avid reader, a hobby she attributes to her success in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exams.

“She will read any book she can find, but she especially loves her Bible! “You always see her with her Bible!” shared Anna Dyce, Ky-Lee’s grandmother.

“Even when she is studying, she will study for a while and then take a break to read her Bible,” she informed.

Ky-Lee’s love for the Bible is not unusual, said her grandmother, as she was brought up in the church and is a member of the Church of God (Seventh Day), White Horses where her pastor, O’Dean Bailey, speaks highly of her. Mrs Dyce said the family places emphasis on being spiritually focused and credits hard work and prayer to Ky-Lee’s success.

The former student of White Horses Primary and Infant School in St Thomas scored 341.7 in the PEP Exams to gain a place at Campion College, the first school of choice. She was also awarded the JN PEP Scholarship for the parish of St Thomas.

Mrs Dyce describes her as a focused and disciplined child who never gives her any trouble. “When I heard that Ky-Lee was getting the award [JN Scholarship], I was excited! I know she likes to do her work. She is always on top of her schoolwork,” her grandmother shared beaming with pride.

“When she comes home from school, the first thing she does is bathe, get something to eat and go straight to doing her homework,” she shared.

Ky-Lee expressed how happy she was that her hard work and determination had borne fruit.

“When I found out I got this scholarship, I felt this incredible wave of relief, joy and accomplishment all at once and I couldn’t have been happier,” she said.

Described as passionate, curious, and reliable, by her grandmother, Ky-Lee is dedicated to achieving her goals and making her family proud. In preparation for school each morning, she wakes up at 3:30 a.m. and is on the bus to school by 5:15 a.m. That may be early for many youngsters, but Ky-Lee is a determined young lady who says she sees the benefit in making the journey from St. Thomas to Campion College.

“She has a good group of friends who sit together on their laptops and encourage each other to do their work,” said Mrs Dyce.

Mother, Kimiella Moore, shared that she is incredibly proud of her daughter. “Her remarkable achievements come as no surprise considering her innate ability for independent learning.”

Her father, Kerwayne Dyce, also expressed immense pride for her achievements, said, “The school scholarship bestowed upon my daughter is a testament to her unwavering commitment and incredible potential. It fills my heart with immeasurable pride and joy.”

She has a strong circle of support as along with her grandmother and parents, her aunt, Devita Dyce takes pride in helping her with her homework and motivates her to study hard.

The future software engineer believes that if she continues to work hard, she will achieve her goals.

Primary school teacher, Sharlene McDonald, who taught young Ky-Lee in grades five and six at White Horses Primary and Infant, described her as a dedicated and disciplined student.

“Ky-Lee has a great passion for knowledge. She was a role model to her peers and was elected head girl at White Horses Primary and Infant School. She was a jovial student and enjoyed doing her schoolwork but never missed out on an opportunity to run and play with her peers,” she fondly remembered her student.

“She wasn’t the best runner though”, she laughed, “because each time she went outside to run and play with friends I could always look for them to be carrying her back in their arms saying she fell.

Her former teacher continued: “She loved to debate and would always refer to the Bible whenever arguing a point. She is a ‘Bible girl’ – always saying something about her Bible. I know she will go on to do great things because of her passion for knowledge.”

The JN Foundation PEP scholarship and grants are given to students who display academic prowess, leadership potential, and a commitment to excellence – qualities that Ky-Lee has exemplified throughout her educational journey.

Since 1983, The Jamaica National Group has been supporting the educational pursuits of hundreds of young people at both the secondary and tertiary levels through the scholarship programme.

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Abigail Richards, JN Scholar for St. Catherine, Walking in Her Purpose

Photo Caption: Parris Lyew-Ayee (left), chairman of the JN Foundation presents Abigail Richards with a certificate at the awards at the 40th JN Scholarship Awards ceremony held at the Summit in New Kingston in November.

Damion Richards is bursting with pride and joy that his firstborn, Abigail, is walking in her purpose and excelling by copping the JN Primary Exit Profile (PEP) scholarship for St Catherine and scoring high to secure a spot at Campion College, her first school of choice.

“I was very happy, as this was the only scholarship I ever applied for on behalf of my daughter and was successful with. Somehow, I knew it would have come through, and when I got the call, I was overjoyed,” he shared after it was communicated to him that his daughter received the JN parish scholarship for St Catherine.

Abigail was one of 37 students awarded the five-year prize for 2023 at the 40th JN Scholarship Awards ceremony held at the Summit (formerly Knutsford Court Hotel) in New Kingston in November.

“She is discipline, creative and focused. All that attributes make her successful in all that she does,” he said making reference as to why he thinks she is walking in her purpose.

Mr Richards said his daughter, who attended Kensington Primary School in Portmore, St Catherine, was always a high achiever, and he knew she was destined for greatness.

“She has been a high achieving student since grade one and up to grade six, this trend has continued, and I am happy that JN assisted in rewarding her hard work,” he said, noting that her preparations involved doing extra lessons and practice questions from previous PEP exams.

For Abigail, the scholarship is a feather in her cap and a pleasant surprise, as she had no idea her parents had applied for the scholarship.

For the avid reader who enjoys fiction, such as ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ and The Land of Stories, a series of children’s fiction, adventure and fantasy books, her words of encouragement to other students are to read over their notes and use practice papers.

“I also ensured that I did the homework that my teacher gave me and used the past papers to assist me in my studies,” she said.

While unsure what career path she will take when she gets older, the 12-year-old now enjoys drawing, especially anime, hand-drawn and computer-generated animation, which she does during her personal time.

“I love drawing because you can bring your imagination to life,” she explained. She also loves to edit videos, a self-taught hobby which she took up two years ago.

Marvan Morgan-Harris, a grade six teacher at Kensington Primary School who taught Abigail, is thrilled with her success.

“She made me feel proud. She was the only from my class who passed for Campion College. I was so proud of her, but I knew she could have done it,” she said.

Mrs Morgan-Harris described her as a quiet, well-groomed, and excellent child who never gave any trouble while in class.

“She was a focused student. She was determined, and whenever she gets a task, she ensures that it was done well,” she shared. “She was different.  Her parents did a good job in raising her. She is very respectful in her speech and mannerism,” she said.

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Zhane’ Harrison Strikes the Balance to Score Big

Photo Caption: Claudine Allen (left), general manager of the JN Foundation presents Zhane’ Harrison with a certificate at the at the 40th JN Scholarship Awards ceremony held at the Summit (formerly Knutsford Court Hotel) in New Kingston in November.

One may be surprised to know that Zhane’ Harrison, the 2023 JN Foundation Primary Exit Profile (PEP) Scholarship recipient for Manchester, is no bookworm. Although the 12-year-old performs well academically, her passion lies in drawing, writing poetry and playing video games. And, the mathematics ‘whiz kid’ also believes in balancing her studies with lots of fun time.

“A lot of children would go to extra lessons as part of their preparation for the PEP exams. I signed her up, but she didn’t go and was not interested in that. She studies on her own. I was worried because I was not seeing her study, but she would often go to her room and lock away,” her mother, Janice Ann-Marie Clarke, explained.

Ms Clarke, however, took comfort in the knowledge that her daughter was a consistent high achiever and had been excelling in her studies since kindergarten.  So confident was she in her ability that when her cousin, who resides overseas, encouraged her to apply for the JN Foundation PEP scholarship, she applied before even receiving the results of the exams.

When the results arrived, as predicted, Zhane’ had done exceptionally well, scoring 351 overall in the exams and securing a spot at the first school of her choice, Manchester High School.

Spilling a little about her secret to success, Zhane’ explained that she relied on a lot of practice papers to help prepare her for the exams, along with educational videos to help with her studying.

“Sometimes I watched videos on the topics that we were studying, and that helped a lot in my preparation,” said the young freestyle artist.

The former head girl at El Instituto de Mandevilla, a preparatory school, said that she was pleasantly surprised when her mother told her she was awarded the JN PEP Scholarship for the parish of Manchester. She was one of 37 students awarded the five-year prize for 2023 at the 40th JN Scholarship Awards ceremony held at the Summit (formerly Knutsford Court Hotel) in New Kingston in November.

Zhane’ expressed gratitude for the scholarship, which she said would assist financially. “I’m grateful for the scholarship. It was a big surprise, and I am happy to receive it,” she said.

An aspiring paediatrician, Zhane’s goal is to help heal children when she grows older. Her desire was inspired by her own doctor. “She (Zhane’s doctor) works really well with children, and she inspires me to really want to become a doctor as well,” she said.

The secret to success is the ability to balance, the soft-spoken cat lover believes, and her advice to other students is to strive towards achieving parity between one’s academics and personal passions. “Do not overwork yourself and pace yourself,” she advised.

Her mother also has some advice for parents. She underscores the importance of supporting children on their educational journeys, relying on her own experience with her only child to bring home the point.

“I just made sure she goes to school. If she is absent from school due to illness, I would get the work and have her do it. I made sure she was up to date and had the necessary resources. I must give God thanks,” she said with gratitude.

She continued: “Be there for them. Just support them. Don’t be too anxious about the exams. Ensure that they also get time for themselves to relax. They can’t be in the book 24/7,” she said.

Despite being a single mother, Ms Clarke informed that Zhane’ has a village supporting her, which includes her extended family members who are always there to encourage her.

Kezia Fullerton, a sixth-grade teacher at El Instituto de Mandevilla, who taught Zhane’ in grades five and six, said that she was one of her best students.

“She was very studious, thorough, and quiet. She is a very good leader, and she was particularly strong in mathematics and language arts,” she said as she noted that she was not surprised at her performance in the PEP exams.

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JN Foundation Provides Comfort for Christmas for Mustard Seed Communities

Photo Caption: Darcy Tulloch-Williams (second right), executive director of Mustard Seed Communities Jamaica expressed delight at receiving diapers and milk products from team members of the JN Foundation team, Candice Nichols (second left), social Impact assessment officer and Omar Wright (left), lead, environment, and community development programmes. Sharing in the moment is Ezlyn McKenzie, administrator of My Father’s Place, one of 13 homes in the Mustard Seed Communities. The presentation took place at My Father’s Place on Mahoe Drive in St Andrew.

Six entities within the Mustard Seeds Communities were beneficiaries of the JN Foundation’s Comfort for Christmas initiative, organised to provide diapers, wipes, and nutritional products to the more than 200 residents of the homes situated across the country.

The gesture was welcomed by Mustard Seed, as a vast majority of its residents, which comprise babies to adults neglected or afflicted with ailments, such as disabilities and HIV, rely on the items to support their daily hygiene and nutrition.   

Darcy Tulloch-Williams, executive director of the Mustard Seed Communities, said 95 per cent of the residents, wear diapers, and many rely on the milk products donated, as they are unable to swallow or digest solid foods.

“We are very grateful for this donation because sometimes we are in very short supply of diapers. So, we have to always have the diapers available for them,” she said pointing to the long-standing relationship Mustard Seed has had with The Jamaica National Group. She noted that initiatives spearheaded by the Group through the JN Foundation over the past few years, have been instrumental in providing for its most vulnerable across Jamaica.

“I am overwhelmed by the commitment of the JN Foundation. Every year, they come, and they have supplies of the things that we need. In 2021, they also hosted an online Christmas concert where the donations from the concert were contributed to the operations of our homes,” she informed. 

“They are an excellent corporate entity. I want to thank them very much. It has been a fruitful and respectful relationship, and we continue to look forward to more in the future,” she said.

Mustard Seed Communities are home to some 458 vulnerable persons in 13 residences across Jamaica. Besides neglected children and young adults with disabilities, its dwellings are also home to several teen mothers, who are welcomed along with their babies.

Jerusalem, one of the 13 residences in the Mustard Seed Communities, located in Spanish Town, St Catherine, was among the six homes to benefit from the JN Foundation’s initiative.

Ann-Marie Adams, assistant administrator at Jerusalem, received the supplies with delight from a JN Foundation team who visited the home on December 18.

“We thank JN for always thinking about us and partnering with us,” she remarked.

Jerusalem is home to 116 residents, comprising children and adults ages 10 to 54-years-old. Most residents are affected with ailments such as mental retardation and cerebral palsy.

Candice Nichols, social impact and assessment officer at the JN Foundation, explained that the items for donation were determined after consulting with Mustard Seed Communities about its needs.

“Diapers, feeding tubes, and liquid nutritional beverages emerged as high-priority necessities. Responding dynamically, we fulfilled this request,” she said.

Through the ‘Comfort for Christmas’ initiative, the JN Foundation rallied JN employees across the JN Group to contribute either cash or diapers towards the supplies. The initiative was further bolstered by the JN Group employee giving programme, ‘Funds to Fuel a Nation’, which facilitates year-round contributions from employees to providing a continuous means of support for charity initiatives.

Miss Nichols pointed out that the initiative is a natural gesture for The Jamaica National Group, as the organisation is committed to enriching the lives of Jamaicans wherever they are.

“The alignment between our objectives and Mustard Seed Communities’ dedicated efforts to serving the most vulnerable members of our society, is unmistakable. This shared commitment propels our ongoing support for their impactful work,” she remarked.

Persons or organisations that wish to contribute to the work of the Mustard Seed Communities can contact the organisation at 876-923-6488 or email info-jamaica@mustardseed.com

“We are always in need of food, toiletries and we always welcome anything anyone would like to contribute,” Mrs Tulloch-Williams appealed.

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JN Scholar Uses Art to Unwind

Photo Caption: Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation presents the 2023 top PEP applicant from Portland, Avianna Stephens, with a certificate during the JN Foundation’s PEP Scholarship Awards held at the Summit in New Kingston on November 12.

Many people who are artistically inclined often find solace in creating art to express their emotions. For Avianna Stephens, past student of Fruitful Vale Primary School and 2023 JN Scholar for the parish of Portland, it’s simply “relaxing.”

Avianna already has a collection of paintings and drawings which she completed with the support of family members who provided her with the tools she needed to explore her interest. Although she has kept them confined to the walls of her home, she said creating art helps her to decompress from school life.

“I just like to do it and I love learning how to create new designs,” the quiet and reserved teen shared.

Avianna’s PEP score of 317.6 landed her a place at Titchfield High School in Portland. It was her school of choice, as she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her parents who also attended the institution. This achievement presented her the opportunity for a 5-year scholarship from the JN Foundation, for which she is grateful.

“I’m just really happy I was selected to be one of this year’s recipients,” she said while noting that she had expected to do well in her exams, as she had put in the work and was usually among the top performers at school.

“I was always getting the highest grade in primary school, so I was not really surprised,” she said.

Avianna’s mother, Monique Davidson, said she was overjoyed at her daughter’s results, as she had been helping her to prepare for the exam since grade four. She also expressed gratitude to the JN Foundation for the scholarship, which she said is testament to her daughter’s work ethic.

“Getting the scholarship is really something that I wanted for my daughter, so she could see for herself that she has done well,” said Ms Davidson, a baker who runs her own business.

“To her the exam was no big deal and when I asked her how it was, she just said it was OK. She didn’t seem worried or excited. I cried when I found out that she got the highest PEP score in the school,” her mom recalled.

Avianna’s performance also made her father, Delon Stephens, proud. Mr Stephens, a library assistant, transports his daughter to and from school daily.

“It’s a great feeling to know she achieved all that and I expected her to do well in the exams. She’s always serious about school and I will continue to encourage her to do her best,” he said.

An abstract painting created by Avianna Stephens

Even Avianna’s aunt, Aakiela Gordon, is beaming with pride. Ms Gordon, who played a major part in her exam preparations, noted that: “I am extremely proud of her. She is different, she is a good child and I love her as my own.”

Although Avianna projects an introverted personality, she maintains a strong interest in social activities. Besides her love for art, she is also passionate about reading and has a keen interest in history. She loves it so much, she’s been pushing her parents to visit more heritage sites across the country. One of the sites that Avianna has already ticked off her list is the Rose Hall Great House in Montego Bay, St James.

“She’ll inquire about my weekend plans then ask if we can visit a particular place that she would have seen or heard about somewhere. She has been doing her own research on different places to learn about their significance and what life was possibly like at these places years ago,” her mom explained.

Her strengths also go beyond the humanities. Her mother said financial independence is also important to Avianna who is a habitual saver. She informed that she brings home large portions of her lunch allowance and keeps a record of the unused funds.

“I’m happy with the way that she is, she’s very respectable and she’s humble. Sometimes our family may run into difficulty and can’t get what we want or need but she’s very understanding where that is concerned,” Ms Davidson added.

A big sister to two younger siblings, Avianna admitted that she has tried to influence them to get involved in her hobbies but conceded that “they have their own thing.”

While she’s undecided about what career path she’d like to pursue in the future, she said she is actively considering art-related fields, including graphic design.

But whatever Avianna decides, Ms Davidson said, she will be able to count on the support of her family. She is looking forward to what Avianna will accomplish as she gets settled in high school and explores the options available to her.

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JN Foundation Celebrates 40 years of Scholarship with 47 PEP Awards

Photo Caption: JN PEP Scholarship recipients take a group photo after the awards ceremony at The Summit in Kingston on Sunday, November 12.

In recognition of 40 years of providing students and families with financial support for academic achievement, the JN Foundation and JN Money presented 47 scholarships and grants to students who excelled in the 2023 Primary Exit Profile (PEP).

The awards presentation took place on Sunday, November 11 at The Summit in Kingston. Seventeen five-year parish and county scholarships, and 10 grants by JN Money were presented to students across the country, while 20 five-year scholarships were also awarded to children of employees of The Jamaica National Group.

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, said that this year’s awards is special, given that it’s the organisation’s 40th year of awarding academic achievement of the nation’s children.

“Such a longstanding tradition of supporting education and investing in the future of deserving young people is a testament to the values and commitment of The Jamaica National Group,” she said.

“We’ve not just given scholarships; we’ve invested in the potential of young minds. We’ve recognised the talents, ambitions, and dreams of countless individuals, and we’ve helped them take the first steps towards a better future,” she said.

Miss Allen noted that since 1983, The Jamaica National Group has been supporting the educational pursuits of hundreds of young people at both secondary and tertiary levels, many of whom have gone on to make their mark in society.

One such recipient is Dr Danielle Twiddle, who received a scholarship while attending Immaculate High School. She said the scholarship was helpful.

“It didn’t only help me monetarily but allowed my parents to have less on their plate to be able to help me, but I also met a few friends at the scholarship ceremony who I’m still in touch with today,” she said.

She noted that aside from the scholarship, The Jamaica National Group also provided other opportunities such as summer employment where she worked in the marketing department, which she said provided learning opportunities.

“It’s an honor being a recipient because it was a great assistance to me, and I had a standard to uphold academically. I would say work hard, have fun during your journey and never forget that no man is an island,” she said, encouraging the new recipients.

This year’s awards function was held under the theme ‘Pursuing Excellence, Honouring Purpose’ and theguest speaker will be Tishauna Mullings, development practitioner, social entrepreneur and Chevening scholar.

Over the past 40 years, The Jamaica National Group has provided financial support for other educational initiatives, such as The Gleaner’s Children’s Own Spelling Bee competition and invested millions in the educational transformation initiative, Centres of Excellence and iLead programmes- both targeted at improving leadership in rural-based underperforming schools.

Since 2001, the organisation has maintained a financial literacy programme, JN Bank Easi Save, at the basic, primary, and secondary levels, to foster sound money management practices among children.

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Campion College’s ‘Great Debater’ Challenges More Students to Spar

Photo Caption: Ronaldhino McLean (second from right), Head Boy of Campion College, presents Claudine Allen (third from left), general manager, JN Foundation with the book he co-authored, ‘What Makes Children Fly?’ during a courtesy call by the Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment (JADE) on the JN Foundation at the JN Corporate Office in September. Ronaldhino was a member of the team coached by JADE that won the Rollins College Great Debate in the United States in October 2022. Also sharing in the exchange were (from left) Chevanese Peters, programme coordinator, JN Foundation; Shanna Kaye Wright Vaughn, youth and education programmes lead, JN Foundation; and Germaine Barrett, founder and executive director of JADE

Most people hear of debates during elections or while pursuing academic disciplines such as law. But imagine having your first debate while still in primary school? That was the situation for Ronaldhino McLean who got his first taste of the art at age eight while in grade three, competing against older children in grade six.

“I had to be standing on chairs so I could be at the height of the lectern in front of me,” shared Ronaldhino who is arguably now hooked to the activity, with years of experience and accolades to his name.

Ronaldhino, the current Head Boy of Campion College, and a member of the Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment (JADE) Secondary Level Gold Club, was part of the debating team, coached by JADE, which won the Rollins College Great Debate in the United States in October 2022. It was his second international tournament, but his skills and contribution silenced a room that was earlier booing him and his peers. The Rollins College Great Debate is a prestigious debating competition that facilitates international exchanges with debating societies from around the world.

Ronaldhino said to prepare for that competition the team had to conduct extensive research on topics that didn’t necessarily concern them, such as US politics, US social issues, ethics, philosophy and abortion. He said that made winning more rewarding. “We had to look at different perspectives and views and that’s part of what you get and learn from debating,” he said while reflecting on the experience.

Ronaldhino McLean, Head Boy of Campion College in St Andrew and member of the Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment (JADE) Secondary Level Gold Club, addressed the audience during the launch of National Debaters Week 2023 in September at The University of the West Indies. Ronaldhino was convenor for the Zone A debates, held at Campion College.

The Head Boy believes his debating and public speaking skills were enhanced by the many arguments and discussions shared with friends and family members over the years. He said his passion for the activity also extends beyond school because when he’s not debating, he’s at home watching debates on YouTube.

Ronaldhino said he is encouraging more students to explore debating, especially as JADE pushes to entrench the activity in local school curricula. For Ronaldhino, debating is tied to who we are as a people and not only targeted to the ‘most-abled’ students. He said while the activity isn’t for everyone, it encourages participants to critically think and apply knowledge and understanding to issues under pressure.

“I really wish we could break away from the notion that debating is just this activity that intellectuals do. It’s something we engage in everyday and we use it in all facets of our lives. We debate with our parents and friends all the time. We debate in music,” he reasoned.

During National Debaters Week 2023, Ronaldhino assumed the role of convenor for the Zone A debates held at his school and even without his participation, Campion’s Debating Society, of which he’s also the president, emerged on top. Ronaldhino said the club currently has between 50 and 60 active members and hopes it will be a model for other schools and communities looking to get more young people interested in the activity.

“Debating can be fun, debating can teach, it can help with socialising and conflict resolution, but students will have to engage with the opportunities that exist. I’m encouraging students to join their debating societies and push their faculty supervisors to get their schools signed up for competitions. Let’s work together to make debating as widely recognised as any other sport in our schools,” he urged.

Now in his final year of high school, Ronaldhino hopes to study political science and economics at University. Besides his debating fame, he’s also the published co-author of the book titled, ‘What Makes Children Fly?’. The book, launched in 2021, was written in collaboration with childcare expert, Karlene Rickard, for use as a learning and development tool for children, their parents, teachers, and mentors.

In September, he presented a copy of the book to Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation at the JN Group Corporate Office in New Kingston. The exchange formed part of JADE’s courtesy call on the JN Foundation, which had sponsored their trip to the Rollins College Debate in 2022.

“There is no doubt that debating is an impactful tool in and out of the classroom and we at the JN Foundation are pleased to support the work of JADE in creating more opportunities for our students to build on their critical thinking and public speaking skills,” an impressed Ms Allen remarked as she accepted the book. “Debating really prepares you for life.”

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Chevening Scholar to PEP Scholars: ‘Strive for a Higher Version of Yourself’

Photo Caption: Tishauna Mullings (left) development practitioner, social innovator and entrepreneur who operates NexxStepp Personal Development Services and Inspirational Products, interacts with Demorah Robinson, JN Scholar, during the JN Foundation PEP Scholarship Awards ceremony where she addressed the JN Scholars under the theme “Pursuing Excellence, Honouring Purpose.”  The event was held at the Summit on November 12, in recognition of Youth Month.  Thirty-seven students who performed outstandingly in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exams, were awarded five-year scholarships by the JN Foundation and an additional 10 students were offered grants by JN Money, a member company of The Jamaica National Group. 

Nearly 50 JN Scholars were inspired by Chevening Scholar and life coach, Tishauna Mullings, to reach for the highest peak in their educational endeavours. She encouraged them to do so while underscoring the potential of each student.

Ms Mullings was the guest speaker at the JN Foundation PEP Scholarship Awards ceremony where she addressed the JN Scholars under the theme “Pursuing Excellence, Honouring Purpose.”  The event was held at the Summit on November 12, in recognition of Youth Month.

“Excellence is pursuing the highest standard. Always strive for a higher version of yourself.  There is that seed of greatness inside every person.,” said Ms Mullings, who is also a development practitioner and entrepreneur who operates NexxStepp Personal Development Services and Inspirational Products.

“You are living in an age where you have a lot of resources. Continuously seek personal growth. There are people who are willing to mentor you and guide you,” she advised.

Thirty-seven recipients, who performed outstandingly in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exams, were awarded five-year scholarships by the JN Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The Jamaica National Group. Of the awardees, one is from each parish and county while 20 are children of employees of The Jamaica National Group. An additional 10 students were offered grants by JN Money, a member company of The Jamaica National Group.  The occasion marked the 40th year of the scholarship awards.

Referencing her own academic journey, Ms Mullings encouraged the young JN Scholars to not only  strive for academic excellence but  to also embrace a deeper sense of purpose to propel themselves forward.

Using ‘eagle’ and ‘purpose’ to form acrostics, Ms Mullings crafted an inspirational narrative, weaving in the wisdom of pursuing excellence, possessing ambition, embracing growth, accepting leadership opportunities, and being empowered into the acrostic, ‘eagle.’  She further spurred the scholars to be passionate about what they undertake, embrace their uniqueness, to be resilient, prioritise goals that align with their purpose, be optimistic, be of service and empowered.

“Think about where you want to be ultimately and how what you are doing now will contribute that. Maintain a positive outlook and be of service. Make sure you give back and serve others around you. See how you can help with something.”

“Make sure you are well rounded.  Set goals that align with your purpose,” she said.

Ms Mullings received the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Jamaica 55 for commendable work in Youth Service in 2017 and the Governor General’s Award for Excellence in 2015. She was also a Young Achiever recipient of the Gordon “Butch” Stewart Community Award in 2014, and in 2016, served as a delegate for Barak Obama’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative. She is also an alum of the JN Foundation’s Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) where she received support in 2018 to develop her enterprise, NexxStepp Personal Development Services and Inspirational Products.

Since the inception of the JN Scholarship Programme in 1983, hundreds of students, have benefitted from financial assistance to pursue their secondary education. This year, 370 scholarship applications were received.

As part of the eligibility for the scholarship, the child or parent is required to be a member, customer, or client of The Jamaica National Group for at least a year, while JN Group employees, whose children achieved a placement score of 288 or more, were invited to apply for the scholarship.

This year’s scholarship awardees are in addition to approximately 130 JN Scholars, who are at various stages in their five-year secondary scholarship award, and who have had their scholarship renewed for the new school year.

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