As GraceKennedy (GK) continues its 100th anniversary celebrations, the Group has invested over $50 million in back-to-school support, ahead of the start of the 2022/2023 academic year.

Leading the efforts are GraceKennedy’s two foundations – the GK Foundation (GKF) and Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation (Grace & Staff).

This year GKF has awarded 90 scholarships to tertiary students at the University of the West Indies (UWI), University of Technology (UTech), Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and the Caribbean Maritime University, valued at over $24.2 million. In August, GKF also awarded $2.1 million in bursaries for the upcoming school year to 23 children of GK team members through the annual Carlton Alexander Memorial Bursary programme. The Foundation has exceeded its target of awarding 100 scholarships and bursaries as a part of GK’s 100th anniversary celebrations.

Commenting on the support GK offers for students and their families during the back-to-school period, GK Group CEO Don Wehby said, “I firmly believe that education should be a right and not a privilege, and I am fortunate to lead an organization that supports this belief. Each year GK strives to increase our support for education where possible. Education changed my life and I believe it can and will do the same for our beneficiaries. We wish them all a successful and productive academic year.”

Carlene Gonzalis, mother of Sashell Miller, one of GKF’s most recent scholarship recipients said, “Sashell and I are so happy for this scholarship that we cried tears of joy. We could not get a student loan for various reasons and so you can imagine how grateful I am that GraceKennedy is assisting Sashell by awarding her this scholarship.” Sashell attends the University of Technology and received the GraceKennedy UTech Merit Scholarship valued at $200,000.

(L-R) Maurice Colquhoun, Career and Placement Officer at Utech and Siphany Walters Utech Student Union Secretary receive donations from the GK Campus Connect Food Bank from Sujae Boswell, Business Development Manager at GK Limited during Utech’s Welcome Week in August, ahead of the 2022/23 academic year

Last week, GKF also donated three laptops to university students, and will donate an additional 19 laptops to students before the end of September, with a total value of $3.1 million. GKF’s Campus Connect Food Bank, which offers ongoing nutritional support to university students in need, recently donated food items valued at over $300,000 to UTech’s Week of Welcome for its new and returning students, and snacks valued at $169,000 courtesy of World Brands Services (WBS) to halls of residence on UWI’s Mona campus.

Meanwhile, the Grace & Staff Foundation has added 194 students to their annual tuition assistance programme. A total $22 million has been committed to cover tuition expenses for 1284 secondary and tertiary students this academic year.

GK Foundation scholarship recipient Kimberlee Coley receives a laptop from Marjorie Godfrey, Administrative Assistant at the GK Foundation on August 31, 2022, ahead of the new school year

Wehby, who is also Chairman of Grace & Staff added, “Last year, ahead of schedule, we exceeded our goal of Grace & Staff supporting 1000 students in time for our 100th anniversary, and I am very pleased that we have been able to add even more students this year. The work being done to advance education in Jamaica by our GK Foundation and Grace & Staff Foundation under the leadership of their CEO’s Caroline Mahfood and Sandrina Davis (respectively) is truly inspiring. I am looking forward to adding even more students to all the educational assistance programmes being delivered by both Foundations and across our Group in 2023 and beyond.”

Through its Foods and Financial Division GK has also been supporting back-to-school community fairs with cash and in-kind donations. Coming out of the 2022 staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships, Grace Foods also awarded cash prizes, tablets, and nutritional support for the 2022/23 school year to eight secondary schools, valued at over $2.5 million.

Students from St Mary High pose with a symbolic cheque representing their cash prize in the Grace Foods Big Hundred Raffle in June 2022. St Mary High was also declared a winner in the Grace Foods Move Like a Champ promotion and received tablets and nutritional support. Both competitions were associated with the 2022 staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships (Champs) earlier this year