JN Foundation Invites Application for PEP Scholarship

The JN Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications for students who participated in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) and will attend school at the secondary level.

Seventeen students will be awarded under the two types of scholarships on offer – the JN Foundation PEP Parish (14) and JN Bank Easi-Save County (3) Scholarships.

The deadline for the submission of applications is Sunday, August 7, and prospective applicants are invited to access the application form on the JN Foundation’s website at www.jnfoundation.com/jn-scholarships/ .

To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must have completed the 2022 Primary Exit Profile and should not be a recipient of a government scholarship.

Other requirements are that applicant or parent must have a relationship with a JN Group member company for at least one year – either as a member/customer/client of JN Bank or JN Bank Small Business Loans Division, JN Fund Managers, JN General Insurance, JN Life Insurance, Jamaica Automobile Association or JN Money Services.

Only the biological parent or legal guardian can apply on behalf of the child if the child is without an active JN Bank account.

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, noted that the Foundation is honoured to be able to support the best and brightest through funding for secondary education.

“Assisted by the generosity of companies with the JN Group, we are able to award some $9 million  in scholarships annually, a significant amount of which goes to our youngest scholars,” she said.

The Foundation currently provides funding for more than 140 youngsters who maintained good grades having initially received the award on successful completion of their PEP exams.

“In September, many will commence fifth form, and will conclude the tenure of the scholarship at year’s end. At the same time, in September we will welcome a new cohort who will commence this five-year journey with their JN Family. It is an exciting and rewarding period,” she added.

The JN Foundation PEP Scholarships will be awarded to one recipient from each parish, while the JN Bank Easi-Save County Scholarship will go to one child from each county.  The PEP Scholarships are also available to children of employees of The Jamaica National Group

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JN Foundation Invites You to Read about the History of Our Parishes

Ever wondered how our parishes got their names? Which is the oldest parish in Jamaica and even how the parishes were divided?  If these are thoughts that have crossed your mind, we invite you to learn about the remarkable history of Jamaican parishes by visiting the Parish Histories of Jamaica website at www.parishhistoriesofjamaica.org.

The Parish Histories of Jamaica project was developed by the JN Foundation, in partnership with the Department of History and Archaeology, at The University of the West Indies. The project seeks to capture and document the unique histories of all 14 parishes in Jamaica and make it available via the website. These histories portray to readers the major historical highlights and developments in each parish.

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JN Foundation to Host Investment Summer Camp

The JN Foundation will host its inaugural Young Investors’ summer camp for young people between 12 and 17 years-old, as it aims to tap into their growing interest in investing.

The camp is scheduled for July 20 to 22 under the theme ‘Building the Young Investor’ and will be held virtually on the Zoom platform.

“A survey carried out among high school students by the JN Foundation found that young persons wanted to know more about investing. It is heart-warming to know that our young people are interested in learning about investing,” disclosed Claudine Allen, general manager, JN Foundation.

Ms Allen noted that the three-day camp will seek to build the capacity of participants by promoting an understanding of investment concepts and various types of investment vehicles. It will also provide participants with basic knowledge about, and an appreciation for the role, function and value of the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) to the economy and wealth creation.

Other areas of focus include stock trading, cryptocurrency and mutual funds.

“The aim is to achieve a greater level of financial literacy and awareness among participants in the summer camp. It will be an exciting summer camp with prizes and surprises. We invite children to register for the camp,” Ms Allen said.

Persons can register for the summer camp by visiting the JN Foundation website at https://www.jnfoundation.com/.

Among the organisations which will be making presentations at the camp are representatives of the JSE,   Carib DAO, as well as representatives from JN Group member companies: JN Fund Managers, JN Bank and MC Systems. Selected participants will also get the opportunity pay courtesy calls on senior management personnel of both JN Fund Managers and JN Bank.

The summer camp is being executed under the JN Foundation BeWi$e Financial Empowerment programme which has, for close to a decade been bringing financial literacy to Jamaicans through training at various institutions and organisations across Jamaica.  The aim is to raise the level of financial literacy and improve money management skill among Jamaicans.

The BeWi$e workshops promote the idea that with knowledge of the right tools, discipline and commitment, persons can achieve financial security and financial independence.

The programme has attained a high level of success at the JN Foundation, as individuals become more aware of the value and importance of proper money management in achieving financial success, and has over the years, transformed lives and provide hope as participants embrace their role and responsibility in their quest for financial freedom.

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JN Group Set to Launch Financial Academy

Low levels of financial literacy in the country could lead to poor credit management, increase debt burdens and high levels of fraud exposure. Given the importance of financial management, the JN Foundation will be launching the JN Financial Academy, which aims to empower JN members to achieve financial freedom by providing information, training, and mentorship to help them make better financial decisions.

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, said the establishment of the Academy is a demonstration of the ‘People First’ commitment of The Jamaica National Group.

“Our vision is to see all Jamaicans educated and financially free. While the achievement of its mandate will indeed enrich lives and build communities, our work will also call on the organisation to demonstrate the extent to which they accommodate the empowerment of all members, particularly those who are unbanked and under-banked,” she pointed out.

She underscored that The Jamaica National Group has always advocated for financial inclusion, and has been a champion of consumer and business empowerment, especially in relation to banking and finance.

The Academy will raise the level of money management and financial awareness and skills, as well as provide coaching support to manage debt to achieve financial freedom. In addition, it will also influence the public discourse about financial inclusion, savings, borrowing trends and consumer education, by undertaking research and engaging in public dialogue.

The JN Financial Academy will administer courses for virtual, on-demand and face-to-face training sessions. Members who enrol in the Academy may also be offered personal coaching based on their unique current financial position and future plans.

Ms Allen noted that teaching and learning will commence as early as September with the offer of services to support persons unable to access credit, or to enter the formal banking system.

“We will work with individuals and entrepreneurs. And, our offer will include modules focusing on building a bankable character; understanding loans, and credit remediation,” she said.

Other courses will include: Understanding Credit Reports; Wealth Building; Insurance as a tool for financial security, and Investing for youth.

The Academy is the latest education initiative being undertaken by The Jamaica National Group through the JN Foundation. Earlier initiatives include the JN BeWi$e Financial Empowerment programme, which teaches the core principles of money management and the tools necessary to improve one’s financial status, establish stability and independence.

“The Academy is the evolution of our BeWi$e programme. We are aiming to reach more Jamaicans and to help improve their behaviour and attitude to money and provide practical ways that help them access and use credit responsibly … and of course, build inter-generational wealth,” she said.

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‘It Was Love at First Sight’, says Adoptive Mom

Michelle McIntosh Harvey is a caregiver at heart. As a member of the Lion’s Club of Kingston for more than 20 years, she has always been active in her community and is continuously seeking ways to assist those in need.

In fact, each Christmas and Easter holiday, she would open her heart and home to children from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) – a tradition she looked forward to every year. But when she was approached to foster a child fulltime, Mrs Harvey hesitated, thinking it was a challenge for which she wasn’t fully prepared.

“At the time, I was a caregiver for my mother, during the last few years of her life, and I wasn’t sure I could take on the additional responsibility,” she said.

Although uncertain, the Director of Financial Management and Accounting Services at the CPFSA ,decided to invite the then three year-old, along with another child to her home for Christmas. That one chance encounter changed her life forever.

“I would say he came, he saw, and he conquered, because I took one look at him and it was love at first sight,” the beaming mom expressed. “He just came and stole our hearts.”

At the end of his stay, Mrs Harvey decided she could not part ways with Omar, whom she described as a very quiet and loving child. “I told myself I wasn’t sending him back. After that he just became my handbag, everywhere I went he was with me.”

She even designed his own little vest for the Lion’s Club, so they could attend meetings together.

“When I go anywhere with Omar, if I don’t tell people that he’s adopted they don’t know, because we look so much alike. There’s a baby picture of him that when I put it beside a picture of my sister’s son at that same age they look exactly alike,” she said.

It didn’t take long for Mrs Harvey to make the decision to formally adopt Omar. This involved going through all the necessary steps, including home visits from representatives of the CPFSA to the final court visit where a judge grants the legal order of adoption.  

Though there have been challenges, Mrs Harvey admitted that being an adoptive mom has been a truly joyful and rewarding experience. “We connected from day one. I tend to be affectionate and he’s a very loving child…so we feed off each other,” she said.

She noted that the key is love and completely giving of oneself, adding that the power of this role supersedes biology and is ultimately one the greatest expressions of selfless love. 

Mrs Harvey is being featured as part of The Jamaica National Group’s All That She Is movement, which is celebrating women who have taken a different route to motherhood.   

“I recall when my mother passed a few years ago and I was sitting there and bawling. He came to me and asked, ‘mommy you crying for grandma again? Remember you have me you know.’ And those words just changed the whole picture. And I realised I needed to get myself together, because I have my son and the two of us can move forward together,” she said.

Mrs Harvey, who was a single mother for most of the journey, said she drew inspiration from the parents who make up her support system, including her close friends and siblings.

“If I have a concern, then I will speak to someone who has done it before. I have friends who have raised boys only and I will call and ask them for advice.”

And as the years roll by, Mrs Harvey reflects on the decision she made more than a decade ago and knows she would have done it all over again.

Though the years continue to bring them new adventures, triumphs and challenges – she’s now a newlywed and Omar is now almost 15-years-old – what has remained constant is the love and bond they share.

“He’s a happy, adventurous child, who keeps me on my toes, and I look forward to the rest of our lives.”

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Sophie’s Place Gets Facelift and Vegetable Garden From JN Group

Sophie’s Place, a children’s home for special needs children, benefitted from the planting of a vegetable garden and an infrastructural facelift of its outdoor sensory therapy area by members of The Jamaica National Group on Labour Day.

Chevanese Peters, programme coordinator at the JN Foundation said that The Jamaica National Group has adopted the Mustard Seed Communities and have worked with the organisation for some 17 years.

“Sophie’s Place is one of 11 apostolates that the Mustard Seed Communities has across the island and what they have asked us to do here  is part of a longer project that we have taken on in supporting the organisation, is to revive their sensory area as many of the children have some disability. The sensory area would stimulate them,” she explained.

Ms Peters said the JN Foundation Act!on volunteers painted the sensory area with bright colours. They also created a vegetable garden, where the home will be able to reap from to prepare meals for the children.

Christine Madden-Watson, administrator of Sophie’s Place expressed her gratitude to the volunteers.

“For the past 17 years, The Jamaica National Group has partnered with the Mustard Seeds Communities and Sophie’s Place. The project looks amazing and the sensory area looks lively with the bright colours that have been used to paint the area. I just want to say thank you to The Jamaica National Group,” she said.

Mrs Madden-Watson said that the therapy area deteriorated during the pandemic but with the facelift, the children will greatly benefit. She explained that sensory play helps to build nerve connections to the brain, improving cognitive growth and encouraging children to develop motor skills.

 “I just want to say thank you JN and the children and members of staff are appreciative of the work that was done,” she said.

Natassia Lawrence, member service representation at JN Bank who was among the volunteers said she was happy to be involved in the project.

“I love giving back especially to those who are in need of help. It is a very good feeling to see the smile on someone’s face when you give assistance,” she shared.

Sophie’s Place is home to 21 residents including 15 boys and six girls. They have varying disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to down syndrome.

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Mustard Seed Communities & Sirgany Beach to Get Labour Day Facelifts

The Mustard Seed Communities and Sirgany Beach in East Kingston will be the hub of Labour Day activities, being organised byThe Jamaica National Group on May 21 and 23.

The Jamaica National Group has an ongoing relationship with the Mustard Seed Communities. Therefore, our Labour Day activities will be done at three of their locations in the Corporate Area, St Ann and St James,” said Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation.

Ms Allen said that the administrators at all three locations have expressed a great need for infrastructural and cosmetic fixes that have not been prioritised due to the constraints of the pandemic, but are well needed to maintain the quality care residents deserve.

“Labour Day gives an opportunity for the JN Action staff volunteers and JN Circle members to get involved in a manual work intensive one-day initiative that will improve the facilities that serve the nation’s most vulnerable,” she explained.

Sophie’s Place in Gordon Town, St Andrew; Jacob’s ladder in Moneague, St Ann and Blessed Assurance located in Adelphi, St James are identified as the project locations.

Prior to Labour Day, The Jamaica National Group and its volunteers will do a beach clean-up on Saturday, May 21 at Sirgany Beach in East Kingston.

“We will be doing our part to clean up our coastline and give back to Mother Earth, as we come together to help rid our country’s coastline of harmful debris,” said Ms Allen.

On Thursday, the JN Group commenced the Labour Day activities with the handing over of fruit trees and seedlings to members at its Half-Way-Tree Branch.

The Labour Day activities form part of the JN Group’s Environmental Sustainable programme, which will be launched at a later date. The programme is geared at supporting environmental awareness practices in Jamaica by focusing on key areas such as: deforestation, waste management, water conservation and energy efficiency.

Through the programme, The Jamaica National Group intends to increase staff awareness by 20 per cent; establish plastic bottle collection sites at branches and offices across the island; work with tertiary institutions to identify sustainable innovation to face mask disposal and plant 4,320 seedlings over the next year, among other activities.

Ms Allen said members of the public can support the initiative by: following the three ‘Rs’ – reduce, reuse and recycle; by cutting down on non-reusable items; planting a tree; choosing to use non-toxic chemicals at home and in office, and volunteering and supporting all environmental-related projects organised by the JN Group.

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JN Foundation Awards $8.3 Million to Implement Seven Community Projects

The JN Foundation, has awarded $8.3 million to community organisations to implement seven community related projects across the island.

The grant funding will be administered through the JN Circle, a global network of JN members and customers who are empowered by JN to work together to improve their own lives and the lives of other Jamaicans everywhere.

The projects cover a range of social development, education and health initiatives in communities across six parishes. 

Dawnette Pryce-Thompson, project coordinator at the JN Foundation, said she was happy to be awarding the grants to projects that will resonate and be impactful when implemented.

“The JN Foundation is committed to enriching lives and building communities. We believe that these awards which were proposed by our JN Circle members in communities across the island, will be sustainably implemented and will yield measurable and realistic outcomes,” she said.

The projects that have been awarded grants include a skills training centre spearheaded by the Ocho Rios Baptist Church and the Rotary Club of Ocho Rios. The project is targeted at upskilling unattached youth in Ocho Rios and its environs by providing them with practical training in the areas of plumbing and electrical installation. The training will be certified by the HEART/ NSTA Trust and will be conducted in a retrofitted 40-foot container located at the church.

The Port Maria Hospital in St. Mary will also benefit from the grant funding with the donation of medical equipment, such as an ECG machine, pulse oximeters and a defibrillator. This equipment will assist the hospital to improve healthcare services to patients.

Bull Savannah Primary & Junior High School in St. Elizabeth has been awarded funding to furnish an existing open air lunchroom that caters to some 40 students. This will be done through the donation of dining tables and chairs.

Maryland Primary and Infant School in Hanover is another recipient that will benefit from the donation of tablets to be used as loaners to students in need. The devices will assist them with accessing lessons remotely, when necessary and provide access to online resources.

Residents of Cross Keys and surrounding communities in southern Manchester are also recipients of a JN Foundation grant, which they will use to assist with boosting an agro-processing facility in the community, with the donation of a commercial slicer and a deep fryer. The funds are expected to be used to improve the community centre and sporting facility with the installation of concrete benches for the playfield.

The Spanish Town Young Men Citizens Association’s (YMCA) computer lab in St Catherine will be upgraded with needed air conditioning units.  The grant funding will be used to install the units that will help to protect the computer hardware and software, reducing the risks of downtime or destruction.

The newly built centre of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation in Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth is another recipient of the grants, which will outfit the new centre with chairs, tables, office equipment, kitchen appliances, cribs and utensils. The centre provides educational and counselling support for pregnant girls and young mothers under 17 years old, with a mandate for their successful transition into continued and higher learning.

Donna Burton, centre manager at the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, was elated that the Foundation was awarded funding and expressed her appreciation.

“This is a real blessing for us and it will advance the programme here in Santa Cruz area,” she said.

The JN Foundation last year issued a call for proposals for projects that will improve communities and to access grant funding of up to $1.5 million. Twenty-seven project proposals were received.

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‘Stand-up for the Environment’ JN Ombudsman Tells Women

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation and member ombudsman, The Jamaica National Group, has urged more women to assume the role of advocates of the environment, citing their increased vulnerability to climate change.

“What we have found at The JN Group is that the spirit of advocacy that lives in women still thrives, but we need to nurture it some more. We need to encourage women to speak up and say what their truth is regardless of how popular or unpopular it is,” she said.

She was addressing the International Women’s Day Luncheon recently, organised by the United Way of Jamaica under the theme, Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow.

She emphasised that climate change is real and affecting the economic livelihood of many persons, but particularly women, who she underscored, are more vulnerable and, therefore, negatively impacted by rising temperatures and their subsequent influence on sea level rise and more extreme and frequent climatic phenomena.

“The statistics over the years have shown that when there are huge natural disasters, the larger the event the more women will die, the greater the difference between the number of male victims than female victims and what that suggests is that most vulnerable groups are women,” she pointed to global statistics.

According to data from the UN, up to 70 per cent of the world’s 1.3 billion poor are women and girls, and 40 per cent of the poorest households in urban spaces are led by single women. They also responsible for up to 80 per cent of food production and own less than 10 per cent of land, which makes them more vulnerable to the effects of climate change globally.

In Jamaica, although marginally more males are considered poor than women, female-headed households are poorer than those headed by men, according to the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). Similarly, the Caribbean Policy and Research Institute notes that three in four adults in Jamaica’s poorest communities are women, several of whom are leaders of their households, and their plight has been worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic, which Ms Allen points to as evidence of their vulnerability.

Ms Allen said despite the disadvantages experienced by women and girls, their voices are underrepresented, which she said also means that their extensive knowledge of the environment and resource conservation is untapped.

She pointed out that The Jamaica National Group has been encouraging advocacy through the JN Circle- a network of service clubs for JN Members that focuses on building community resilience across the 14 parishes where the clubs are located.

“We launched the JN Circle, and we have 18 JN Circle chapters across the island, and they work together as clubs to create change for something that is happening in their community and we fund it if the proposal is sustainable,” she said.

Through the JN Circle, the members have undertaken projects that build social infrastructure and strengthen community capacity. She said that in this experience, they found the popular notion to be true that women and girls are responsive and become natural champions for community issues.

The JN Foundation general manager informed that these clubs are working to make change in the communities across the island. Some of these advocacy issues include: intimate partner violence; meditation and keeping the peace, among other areas.

She also informed that through the Water Adaptation Project, which was recently concluded, women were integral in being encouraged in the use of water adaptation technologies to address water management issues related to climate change in Jamaica.

The project, which was launched in 2017, is a joint collaboration between the JN Bank, the JN Foundation, the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

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Children’s Home Reports Reduction in Water Consumption and Water Bill after Implementation of Rainwater Harvesting System

Nearly a year after it implemented water-saving devices and a rainwater harvesting system, the Wortley Home for Girls in Kingston has realised a reduction in its water consumption and savings in its monthly water bill.

The rainwater harvesting systems and devices were donated by the JN Foundation in 2021 and comprised 12 water-efficiency kits and a rainwater harvesting system, which included piping and guttering, as well as a tank donated by dancehall entertainer and JN Group Brand Ambassador, Agent Sasco.

“It has reduced our water bill by at least 50 per cent,” said Delories Bailey, manager of the Wortley Home for Girls, as she explained that the connection was made to their laundry system and the water efficiency kits were used for the shower heads and bathroom.

“When the tank is full, we are good to go for the laundry. We can get up to two weeks’ of washing out of it. However, when that is finished and we don’t get any rain, we have to revert to using the water from the National Water Commission (NWC). But overall it has saved us quite a bit,” she disclosed.

Ms Bailey underscored the importance of the rainwater harvesting system, which she said is essential given the cost of water, which is expected to increase according to the NWC, due to rising global energy costs, being worsened by the Russia-Ukraine war.

“I would certainly encourage persons, especially other children’s homes that have a large population to implement this system. You have to monitor the water and that is how you see the savings. So, the homes that have 50 or more children, should implement the rainwater harvesting system and they would see some savings,” she explained.

Claudine Allen, General Manager of the JN Foundation, said the system was donated to the home in an effort to implement water adaptation measures and encourage efficient water usage. The initiative was implemented under Water Project Jamaica, which was started in 2017, as a joint collaboration with the  JN Bank, the JN Foundation, the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and IDB Lab.

Ms Allen said the March 22 announcement by the Wortley Home was timely, as the world observed World Water Day under the theme Groundwater: making the invisible visible.

“In observance of this year’s World Water Day, we want to emphasize the value of water, whether in homes, schools or communities. We want everyone to take the message of water conservation and efficient water use as a part of valuing water. The evidence is there as our donation to Wortley Home for Girls has increased its efficient use of water and decreased the burden of high bills,” she pointed out.

Rainwater-harvesting systems capture rainwater by directing it from large surfaces, for example, roofs, to an underground or over-ground holding tank. The harvested rainwater is filtered and then pumped directly to the appliances or to a header tank. Domestic or commercial applications include flushing toilets. The home will use its system to reduce water consumption primarily in the laundry area.

The Wortley Home was established by the Anglican Diocese in 1918 to provide a home and a safe space for girls ages seven to 18. The institution was recently rebuilt following a fire in 2015, and now provides a loving environment and Christian upbringing for 14 girls, from a variety of backgrounds.

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