Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
Courts Jamaica Limited has continued to touch the lives of thousands of Jamaicans through projects in different areas including health, sports, youth, environment, and more recently, education.
Over the last two years, Courts has given over 90 scholarships to Grade Six Achievement Test awardees, skilled personnel and tertiary students. These donations have been a lifeline for many of these students, who are from humble beginnings, to continue with their educational pursuits.
This year, to coincide with Jamaica's Golden Jubilee, Courts presented 50 such students with scholarships valued at more than $5 million. According to Dennis Harris, managing director of Courts Jamaica Limited, the value of education is priceless and supporting the education sector is an important aspect of the company's social-responsibility thrust.
"Community involvement is a big issue for us. With our customer base right across Jamaica, we want to be seen as changing lives and playing an integral role in community development," Harris said.
"This is an investment in the future of our country. A country that has achieved much over its 50 years as an independent nation, and can achieve much more with a well educated future generation," Harris added.
These 50 students were selected from more than 4,000 applications across the island. They were awarded the scholarships based on their academic performance and general needs. "It was difficult to take out the 50 and, quite frankly, the 3,950 that did not get through are still at a disadvantage in terms of their finances," Harris said.
Forty-eight scholarships were given out last year and, according to Harris, they will be looking at opportunities to increase the number and the reach across the island so that more Jamaicans can identify with the initiative.
Among the other projects of note is the company's investment of $3.5 million into building a new state-of -the-art basic school in the depressed inner-city community of Jones Town, in Kingston.
The company is striving to increase the involvement of all its branches in the community and has thus introduced a Courts Spirit Adoption Project where each branch identifies and helps a charity in their community for the year.
Courts was also one of the very first sponsors to assist the Jamaican national football team and continues to support them under the 'Orient Express' programme. They have also assisted Jamaica's Sunshine Girls.
Harris said there are also small-scale projects that have created a bigger impact in the communities. "Sometimes they just need a refrigerator. A lot of requests come in for different things. We may provide cash and/or items," Harris said.