Local alcohol giant Red Stripe has awarded 95 scholarships to students in the tough inner-city community of Trench Town as part of its Diageo Learning for Life programme.
The students will be trained in the areas of chef de partie (station chef) and merchandising skills up to Level III certification at the HEART Trust/NTA's Boys' Town Academy for a period of six to nine months.
The 95 scholarships, valued at just under US$12,000 (J$1 million) is the first set of 1,400 Diageo Learning for Life scholarships that will be awarded to residents all across the 14 parishes of Jamaica in recognition of the country's 50th year of Independence.
According to Dianne Ashton-Smith, communications manager at Red Stripe, the scholarships represent the company's commitment to wealth creation in the communities in which they operate.
"Everybody is cognisant of the truism that no country has succeeded if it has not educated its people. Not only is education important in reducing poverty, it is also a key to wealth creation.
"Red Stripe recognises that all sectors of the Jamaican society, including business, community, non-profit organisations, and citizens ought to share responsibility with the Government for creating new opportunities for our people," said Ashton-Smith.
She said this is the fundamental principle on which Diageo Learning for Life is founded and is integral to the Red Stripe purpose of celebrating and enriching Jamaica.
"It improves lives through vocational and life-skills training and offers students like you a genuine opportunity to procure employment and become active, respected contributors to your communities," Ashton-Smith told the recipients of the scholarships.
Opportunity to start
One of the scholarship recipients, 21-year-old Phillip Riley, expressed pleasure at the move by Red Stripe.
"My commitment is to complete this programme, be the best chef ever, and to become a teacher in the future so I can share what I learn. Thanks to Red Stripe for this opportunity to start my dream."
Yvonne Hewitt, academy manager, lauded Red Stripe for the move.
"Many of the students receiving this scholarship would otherwise not have had the chance to attend a school because they are from a low-income family that cannot afford the cost of tuition.
"What Red Stripe is doing to help these students obtain an education is worthy of imitation by other corporate groups. We thank Red Stripe for stepping out and leading the way in creating opportunities for those in need," said Hewitt.