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Youth in hotspot communities to be given life-changing opportunity

Published:Tuesday | December 7, 2021 | 8:48 AMA Digital Integration & Marketing production

More than 150 at-risk youth will be benefiting from a programme focusing skills training, employment programmes, and psychosocial interventions. It is an initiative between the Government and FHI 360, a non-profit human development organisation based in North Carolina.

180 at-risk youth-targeted under crime-prevention initiative

3 Dec 2021/Ainsworth Morris

SOME 180 at-risk youth living in hotspot communities within Kingston, St Catherine, Clarendon and St James are now being targeted under an initiative geared at improving their social, educational and economic opportunities.

The FHI 360’s Local Partner Development (LPD) Private Sector Partnerships Towards Youth Crime Prevention Programme, as the initiative is dubbed, yesterday received a $27-million boost with a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The initiative is being executed by the Government and FHI 360, a non-profit human development organisation based in North Carolina, in partnership with six private-sector companies – CAC 2000 Foundation, Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, Jamaica Energy Partners, Jamaica Public Service Foundation, LASCO Chin Foundation, and Manpower & Maintenance Services Limited.

Already, 52 of the 180 youth have been identified and placed in programmes being executed by the six companies, starting in August this year.

The projects focus on skills training; employment programmes; and psychosocial interventions, specifically in relation to the CAC 2000 Foundation’s technical skills training and empowerment programmes.

“As many of you know, the US government remains committed to supporting the Government and the people of Jamaica to achieve the national development goals, as outlined under Vision 2030,” USAID country representative for Jamaica, Jason Fraser, said during a forum yesterday.

“I’m proud that through the United States Agency for International Development, we are partnering, not only with the Government of Jamaica, but with private-sector organisations that are equally committed to help solve Jamaica’s long-standing challenges with crime and violence,” he added.

Shauna Trowers, chief technical director in the Ministry of National Security, thanked the USAID for its donation and applauded the companies for partnering to execute the transformative initiative.

“The Ministry of National Security gladly accepted this engagement, as it is our distinct pleasure to partner with FHI 360 once more. The ministry recognises the sustained work of the LPD to work closely with Jamaica’s local organisations, especially our private sector in order to provide for sustainability in the area of youth crime and violence prevention,” Trowers said. “The Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of National Security, is committed to ensuring that all partnerships are geared at not only provided for isolated projects, but underpinned by a greater goal of citizen security through social investment, and this has recently been exposed.”

LIFE-CHANGING OPPORTUNITY

Nathan Gordon was grateful for the programme, through which he is receiving mentorship from the LASCO Chin Foundation.

“During the course of being in the LASCO Chin Foundation and the partnership with the USAID, we have been learning a lot about budgeting, on how to start up our own businesses,” he said.

“There have been a lot of counselling sessions with them talking to us and expanding our minds about a lot of stuff, including family-wise, friend-wise and just helping us to cope during this pandemic,” Gordon added.

Another participant, Oshane White, a resident from Tivoli Gardens in Kingston, said the programme has given him “a life-changing opportunity”.

“I was sent to UTech (The University of Technology, Jamaica) to learn a trade. I’m learning electrical engineering. It has been a great experience, to be honest. We’ve learnt a lot,” White said.

Kareem Jones said the persons he was placed with have made him “feel welcome”.

“I know about stocks. I know how to budget. I know how to get sponsors for my business,” he said. “From mi start the class, is like more ideas keep on a come, ‘cause where now mi structure mi mind, is like mi want start a business, and di class a push mi forward towards having that business done.”

Representatives from the six private sector organisations also signed the agreement yesterday, and each will be given funds to help sponsor the youth.

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