Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Grace, USAID establish new centre for learning

Published:Monday | December 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Malik Pusey (seated), a Kingston College student and Grace and Staff beneficiary, shows off the new equipment at the GraceKennedy Parade Gardens STEM Centre, while USAID Mission Director Elizabeth Lee Martinez (left) and Denise Herbol, US Embassy chargé d'affaires, look on. - Contributed Photo
GraceKennedy Group CEO Don Wehby shows an object made with the 3D printer at the GraceKennedy Parade Gardens STEM Centre, officially handed over on November 24.
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In addition to its five homework centres, GraceKennedy, through its Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, has now established a state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) centre to serve the young people within its programme.

The centre, located on Water Lane in Parade Gardens, was made possible through a memorandum of understanding signed in October 2011 between the foundation and the United States Agency for International Aid (USAID).

USAID provided Grace and Staff with just over US$440,000 to be used to expand the operations and offerings not only of the Grace and Staff homework centres, but other areas, including skills training and workforce development.

The centre, established at a cost of J$18 million, will prepare students for Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations and STEM careers through the introduction to new technologies (for example, robotics) in an environment conducive for studying and research.

The 2,000-plus-square-foot centre boasts a computer lab for animation, an electronics lab for robotics, a 3D printing and design facility, a study/ homework prep area, a multi-subject lab for physics, chemistry and biology, and a lab prep room.

WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES

"Think about what can happen within these walls to expand the minds of our young people so that they can go out and change Jamaica, and impact the world," said GraceKennedy Group CEO Don Wehby.

US Embassy Charge d'Affaires Elizabeth Lee Martinez and USAID Mission Director Denise Herbol both spoke to the importance of public-private partnerships - such as the one between Grace and Staff and the USAID - in moving countries forward and keeping them relevant in the era of STEM, which is accompanied by rapid technological change.

In his remarks, chairman of the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, James Moss-Solomon, said: "The dream of science, technology, robotics, 3D printing - all in a modern environment at Water Lane - is almost surreal."

He thanked all the partners who helped to make the dream a reality - ICD, who provided the building at what Moss-Solomon called "peppercorn" rental; Coldax; Microsoft; Flow; the Scientific Research Council; The Mico University College; and the Ministry of Education.