Thu | Aug 6, 2020

Holding on to hope - Michael Forbes starts new campaign to attend York University

Published:Saturday | July 11, 2020 | 1:04 PMJamila Litchmore/Special Projects and Engagement Editor
Michael ‘MJ’ Forbes has launched a new campaign through Sol Adventures Foundation to attend the York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Michael ‘MJ’ Forbes is still holding on to the hope of taking his place at the York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada this year.

As he prepares to sit the second and final unit of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations, the 19-year-old has launched a new campaign through Sol Adventures Foundation.

The California-based non-profit is responsible for assisting another Jamaican student, Yashieka Fearon, to achieve her goals of higher education. Fearon is heading to Howard University in Washington, DC after exceeding her US$21,990 goal and raising US$23,585 in a now concluded campaign.

“We revamped MJ’s campaign by adding a personalised video, personal appeal and clear transparency,” Roseanne Ware, executive director of the Sol Adventures Foundation told The Gleaner.

Though Sol Adventurers has been offering enrichment and mentorship programmes in California and Jamaica since 2007, Forbes and Fearon are the first teens they have assisted with campaigns to attend university. Now, the organisation is consulting with several others regarding their campaigns.

“We normally work with youth in the children’s homes across the island, including Sister Jackie’s House of Love. Due to the [coronavirus] crisis, we had to find other avenues to help the youth since we couldn’t travel to the homes,” said Ware.

For the foundation head, each campaign is a manifestation of the African proverb, ‘It takes a village’.

“What we are doing is calling the tribe back together,” said Ware. “It takes a village, and many have lost the village mentality, but [at] this time we really need to come together and support one another.”

When asked why he decided to create a new campaign, Forbes says he saw the success Sol Adventures was able to achieve for Fearon. He initially aimed to secure some pointers, but once he spoke to Ware, it became much more.

“I saw the success that Miss Rosie (Roseanne Ware) had [lent] to Yashieka Fearon’s campaign, and I had to reached out to Miss Rosie, asking her for advice and it was through this that she had offered to take me under her wing in raising funds,” said Forbes.

“My experience of MJ is as a brilliant, humble, compassionate young man who has so much potential. It also spoke to my heart that he aspires to improve the mental health system in Jamaica as this is my field as well with a bachelor of arts in psychology and a master’s in clinical social work. I recognise the importance [of] and [the] need for more support within the mental health system,” said Ware.


Forbes’ original campaign raised US$2,655 of his US$25,000 goal. Most of that sum goes to the new campaign. A figure of US$150 was paid for Forbes’ booking fees to secure boarding at York. Now, he’s aiming to reach an adjusted sum of US$28,587. To date, he has raised US$745 of this new goal from 15 donors.

He has also received additional financial aid. His one-time scholarship of CDN$10,000 has received a boost with a COVID-19 relief grant of CDN$2,000 and a CDN$2,000 entrance scholarship.

The Glenmuir High School student’s enrolment date is July 23, after which he will need to pay a registration deposit by August 15 to prove to administrators that he will be attending the school and taking the courses selected.

Forbes says he will also need to apply for a Canadian study permit but must first have the tuition plus CDN$10,000 to sustain himself while in Canada. As such, August 15 is not just a deadline for school administrators but also a deadline for Forbes to decide his future.

He has not ruled out the possibility that his first few months at York will be online classes or even a loan to finance his dreams.

“At the moment, I am just hoping the funds will be accumulated for that deadline,” said the future psychiatrist, who was accepted at York to do biology and psychology.

While still hoping his York dream will become a reality, The University of the West Indies (UWI), where Forbes was accepted into the Faculty of Social Sciences for international relations and economics is not entirely off the table. He is still waiting to hear back from The UWI’s Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery programme.

“We’re still leaving The UWI option open because I have been applying to some scholarships to UWI as well just to see how that will come to fruition if this York University venture does not go my way,” said Forbes.

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