Recently I was able to visit the Flanker Resource Centre in Montego Bay which is supported by Sandals Montego Bay and the Sandals Foundation. The after-school program provides children with hot meals and many resources including a computer center and an X-BOX room. I was thrilled to learn that over the last decade, Sandals Foundation has assisted nearly one million people in the Caribbean.
Guests at Sandals Resorts or Beaches Resorts can donate in support of a particular project, or participate in the Pack for a Purpose® program and bring needed supplies to local schools, purchase merchandise and items from Caribbean Artisan Collections available in the Sandals and Beaches Resort Shops or get hands on through unique voluntourism excursions, such as the Reading Road Trip, that take them directly into local communities.
Sandals Foundation is “the philanthropic arm of Sandals and Beaches Resorts which is committed to investments that create a positive and sustainable impact on the people’s lives, their communities and the environment. Founded in 2009, the Foundation focuses on programs and initiatives in the areas of Education, Community and the Environment and 100% of donations goes directly to support the people and communities we support in the Caribbean.”
Some key examples of the Foundation’s projects to-date include:
- Education: Worked with 578 schools across the region providing capacity building for teachers, awards scholarships to deserving students, initiatives to promote literacy and technological advancement in schools.
- Environment: In partnership with CLEAR Caribbean, established restoration programs inside Saint Lucia’s Soufriere Marine Management Area and trained local stakeholders to build, install and monitor two coral nurseries. So far, over 2000 corals have been propagated.
- Community: Launched the Women Helping Others Achieve (WHOA) program, an initiative aimed at positively impacting marginalized women across the Caribbean and helping them find the inspiration to transform their lives through vocational training, counseling, agricultural programs and more.
Across the 19 Sandals and Beaches Resorts, they support hundreds of different projects. I wanted to share 10 of them here in honor of the 10th birthday of the Foundation. The sustainable projects include school improvements, restoration and conservation of marine habitats as well as training and community development programs across Antigua, the Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Turks & Caicos.
Sandals Foundation Projects
Flanker Resource Centre (Montego Bay, Jamaica)
The Flanker Resource Centre aims to increase the level of awareness of residents of the Flanker community through education, life skills, parenting and skill training and increase the literacy and numeracy levels of residents to aid in reducing unemployment. The Sandals Foundation has been supporting the centre for several years, investing in the centre’s After-school Care and Extended Support (ACES) Programme which provides a safe, structured environment in which at-risk youths from the community can benefit from dedicated counselling and mentorship, guided support with their school work and assignments, and participation in supervised afternoon activities which encourage positive social behaviour. The Foundation has also supported the Flanker Marching Band, providing them with instruments, theory books, stipends for the band coordinator and teachers, uniforms for performances and payment for music exams. The Sandals Foundation also constructed and outfitted the second floor of the centre which has offices, recreational space, a kitchen and has an Xbox room which serves as an incentive for the kids that participate in the Centre’s programs.
West End Infant School (Negril, Jamaica)
The Sandals Foundation, in partnership with Ministry of Education, Youth & Information (MOE) and The CHASE Fund constructed and opened the state of the art West End Infant School in 2017, providing 160 children between the ages of 3-6 from Negril and neighbouring communities with a new and conducive learning environment. The institution graduated its first cohort of students in June 2018. This is the third Early Childhood Institute constructed by the Sandals Foundation.
Providing Access to Continued Education (PACE) (Nassau, Bahamas)
PACE is a programme for teen mothers to ensure that they have the opportunity to complete high school, reduce the incidence of repeat pregnancy among teen mothers, improve the quality of life for the mothers and their babies and ensure that teens are fully educated on the negative impact of repeat teen pregnancies. The Sandals Foundation, over several years, organized major fundraisers and brought on significant partners such as Coca Cola to construct a multi – purpose building to provide the teen moms with a conducive space to continue their education. The Foundation has also donated computers and funded skills training programmes for the teen mothers.
Grenrop “Women in Agriculture” (Grenada)
This program is a partnership with the Grenrop Group which supports women farmers to expand their business and become competitive participants in the value chain. The Foundation has provided capacity building for these female farmers through training, purchase of seeds and equipment, construction of a shade house and assistance for the farmers to develop successful and sustainable agricultural enterprises supporting the local industry and improving their quality of life. The Foundation helps to create linkages for the farmers with the hotel sector as a means of creating a sustainale market for their products.
Hurricane Relief (Turks and Caicos)
The Sandals Foundation invested over $200,000 in the renovation of three Turks and Caicos schools damaged by the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. Repairs to the Enid Capron Primary school included roofing, electrical work and other infrastructural improvements to the Stubbs which houses the school’s sick bay, the school kitchen, the computer room and teacher resource room. Construction of the new library at Clement Howell High School, funded by the Sandals Foundation was well underway when the hurricanes hit in September 2017 and the newly refurbished structure suffered some damage. The school also suffered damage to its canteen. The Sandals Foundation completed construction of the state of the art library and made the repairs to the school’s canteen which included replacing the roof, patio, doors and windows. Ianthe Pratt Primary School received repairs to their kitchen, library, hallways, classrooms and had a new stage constructed for their performing arts area.
Sick Kids/ Sandals Foundation Partnership
In 2017, the Sandals Foundation became a Catalyst Donor to the Sick Kids vs Limits campaign, committing to donate US$600,000 to the programme over five years. The Sandals Foundation had already donated US$400,000 to the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative which seeks to build local capacity to advance the study, diagnosis and treatment of paediatric cancer and serious blood disorders across the region. The Foundation funded a two year fellowship for Barbadian Dr. Chantelle Browne-Farmer who became the second paediatric haematologist/oncologist in the Eastern Caribbean. Funding from the foundation also provided training for nurses from the Caribbean in paediatric oncology. In 2015 Sandals Foundation and SickKids also came together to open a Telemedicine Room at the Victoria Hospital in St. Lucia part of a program to link Paediatric Oncologists throughout the Caribbean to each other as well as to the Sick Kids Hospital.
Mount St. John’s Medical Centre Paediatric Ward (Antigua)
Pre-term babies born in Antigua were given a greater fighting chance following the gift of two comprehensive Infant Care Centres from the Sandals Foundation. The units valued at almost US$20,000, provide critical care such as temperature control, monitoring of vitals, weighing and respiratory assistance, to preterm babies when the need arises. To date, 397 preterm babies have utilized the machines. In 2018 the foundation made a second donation of medical equipment to the paediatric ward. This donation included vital sign monitors, electronic scales, paediatric beds, hand held pulse oximeters and cardiac monitors and is set to benefit almost 1000 children per year.
Great Shape! Inc./ Sandals Foundation EyeCare and Dental Programmes
Since 2009, the Sandals Foundation and Great Shape! Inc. have provided free eye care and dental services to over 240,000 people in Jamaica, St. Lucia, Grenada and Turks Caicos. Sandals Resorts and Sandals Foundation provide accommodation, funding for transportation/clinics and on the ground logistics for iCare and 1000 smiles. Through the iCARE programme, Great Shape! Inc. has provided prescription, reading and sunglasses, free cataract surgeries, and laser surgery to save the sight of patients with open angle glaucoma and PRP diabetic retinopathy. Through the 1000 Smiles dental programme, they have provided dental services of sealants, dentures, extractions, fillings and blood pressure screenings, Oral education in schools is also promoted through the distribution of toothpaste and toothbrushes and teaching children how to properly care for their teeth. The program also aims to build the capacity of local dental students and help outfit rural clinics with equipment and supplies making ongoing dental care possible.
Marine Sanctuaries/Coral Nurseries
The Sandals Foundation manages two marine sanctuaries and supports an additional four in Jamaica, helping to protect the islands’ depleting fish stocks and strengthen the resilience of their coral reefs. In 2017, The Boscobel Marine Sanctuary became Jamaica’s first rotating fish sanctuary, which allows for sections to be open periodically throughout the year, increasing the benefit of the sanctuary to the surrounding community by not only expanding its boundaries, but also allowing fishermen to benefit from the increase in fish biomass. The Sanctuaries in Jamaica also contain coral nurseries, helping to replenish the coral reefs. Investment in Coral Nurseries has now expanded to St.Lucia in a 3 year partnership with CLEAR Caribbean to increase coral health and train locals in coral restoration. To date, 6000 pieces of corals have been planted.
Youth in Sports
The Sandals Foundation has proven that engaging youths through structured sporting activities is an effective way of teaching life skills and providing opportunities for the young people to secure a better future. Through its Care for Kids Junior Golf Programme in Jamaica, Game Changer Football and Basketball Programs in Barbados, Grenada and St.Lucia, Swalings Football Partnership in Antigua and Tiger Tennis in school program in St. Lucia, the Foundation has engaged hundreds of young people across the Caribbean, providing opportunities for international exposure, providing and securing tertiary scholarships and improving the capacity of local coaches to effectively train and guide the youngsters.
Remember, “the Caribbean Sea connects more than 700 islands and coastlines, which is a source of livelihood for thousands of people. The role we all play in supporting protected areas and teaching the next generation the importance of caring for their precious environment is crucial now more than ever,” said Heidi Clarke, Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation. “The Sandals Group of companies and Sandals Foundation have intensified our efforts by reducing plastic pollution through our operations and in our communities as well as ensuring we engage all the key stakeholders in our efforts.”
Last year, in partnership with Oceanic Global, a non-profit focused on providing solutions to issues impacting our oceans, all 19 Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts eliminated the 21,490,800 single-use plastic straws and stirrers used across the resorts each year, along with plastic laundry bags and plastic bags throughout gift shops. As of February 1, 2019, all resorts have eliminated Styrofoam. The company is currently exploring opportunities to eliminate other plastic across its resorts by September 2019.
For more information on the Sandals Foundation, including how to donate to any of its programs and projects, please visit www.sandalsfoundation.org. To view the Foundation’s latest annual report, please visit https://sandalsfoundation.org/Sandals-Foundation-201-Annual-Report.pdf.
I loved my visit to Sandals Montego Bay and cannot wait to visit another one of their beautiful resorts and see more of the Sandals Foundation projects.