|The Bahamas Investor Magazine
September 1, 2019
September 1, 2019
The cornerstone of any civilization is education. The Bahamas has a range of educational
facilities for all ages from public and private schools to church and higher education offerings. The Lyford Cay Foundations (LCF) has been a driving force in helping young people in The Bahamas better themselves and realize their potential.
In its 50 years of operation, LCF has transitioned from a small group of volunteers to a philanthropic movement that is changing the face of education in The Bahamas.
Scholarships, gifts and grants
LCF is comprised of two organizations: The Lyford Cay Foundation, which was established in 1969 as the American Friends of The Bahamas; and the Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation, set up in 1977 to facilitate Canadian donations. Both support the same programmes, all of which are administered in The Bahamas.
The bulk of LCF’s resources go towards its scholarship programmes. Each year, around 40 Bahamians study abroad, courtesy of LCF scholarships values at $15,000-25,000. Students go to Europe, Canada and the US.
Other students remain at home, taking advantage of the LCF’s Cutillas Scholars programme. Launched in 2016 and named in memory of past LCF chairman Manuel Cutillas, this initiative offers six students full scholarships to either the University of The Bahamas, or the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute.
Helping young Bahamians in their educational journeys also means lending a hand at the start of their learning. The LCF’s FOCUS initiative, launched in 2011 to help Bahamian children from low-income households, recruits students as they prepare to enter grade five.
The eight-year programme offers specialized tutoring, delivered in summer and weekend classes, to help children prepare for postsecondary education.
To widen its impact on the community, the LCF also donates a portion of its funds to education related charities. Each year, around 20 Bahamian organizations receive grants that range from $2,000-$25,000. Recent recipients include the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, which ran a 2018 mixed media art summer camp for kids from Bain and Grants Town.
None of the LCF’s activities would be possible without its generous family of donors, some of whom have been supporting the organization for decades. “Some donors have a 20-year giving history, that is really amazing for an organization such as ours and we are very grateful,” says LCF executive director Felicity Humblestone. “People donate because they connect with education having the power to transform a person’s life, their family’s life and a community’s trajectory. At the end of the day, it can change the whole country.”
For donor and LCF board member Ross McDonald, philanthropy has an integral role to play in filling any gaps in the Bahamian education system. “There are many challenges,” he says. “The good work the foundations do in helping Bahamians further their education is very deserving and a very noble cause. The future of any community is its young people and in today’s world they have no chance of getting opportunities without an education. Education is a universal right and, where society has not been able to provide, it is up to businesses and the community to help out.”
McDonald, former senior vice-president and head of Caribbean banking at Royal Bank of Canada, says that meeting LCF alumni drives home the impact the foundation has had on the next generation. “You cannot listen to [past scholars] and not be inspired. They have taken the opportunity and done wonderful things with it.”
Aside from individual contributions, donations to LCF also come from like-minded organizations eager to extend their reach.
The TK Foundation (TKF), a Bahamas-based private grant-making foundation supporting non-profit maritime and youth development programmes, began its association with LCF in 2004 with an initial scholarships grant. Since then, the foundations have teamed up to offer the TK Foundation Scholar programme, as well as collaborating closely on FOCUS, which has received $1.75 million from the TK Foundation since 2011.
TK Foundation project coordinator Esther Blair says: “For us, it is not just about education or book-learning. It is about giving people the skills to make sure they are employable as that is where the economic impact lies. If [educational philanthropy] is not elevating society, something is wrong.
“Working with LCF inspires us all at TKF. We continue to be delighted with the end results of LCF efforts. There is always the wish that we could do a whole lot more.”
Celebrating a milestone
This year is a big year for the foundation, which is not only celebrating 50 years of assisting young Bahamians, but is also marking the end of its five-year plan.
Looking ahead, Humblestone says the organization’s priorities are “shifting and refining” the grants process to give larger donations, extending outreach to draw in more donors, assessing its achievements and creating a vision for the next five years.
In the short-term however, the LCF wants to take the time to celebrate how far it has come in half a century. It plans to host a series of events over four days in November, including a gala dinner and alumni reception. “It is really about celebrating how generosity has impacted so many lives and how proud we are of that,” says Humblestone. “This year we want to pause, assess, communicate our impact, celebrate and say thank you.”