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WASHINGTON — The Chicago Concerned Jamaicans (CCJ) has contributed just over US$700,000 towards education in Jamaica over the past 25 years, providing books, computers and scholarships, and improving libraries. 

President of the CCJ President, Ms. Valerie Richards, made the disclosure in Chicago, Illinois, on October 27, at a gala affair celebrating the organisation's 25th anniversary and Jamaica’s Golden Jubilee, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Ms. Richards pointed out that although the organisation was established in 1988 to help provide relief to victims suffering from Hurricane Gilbert, it saw the need to change focus to assist Jamaican students.

She further disclosed that this year, the CCJ will provide scholarships to 44 high school students throughout the 14 parishes. 

The President noted that many students who have benefited from CCJ support over the last 25 years have not only graduated, but are now making invaluable contributions to society.

Consul General to New York, Mr. Herman Lamont, in his address, lauded the CCJ for its commitment to education and philanthropy.  He said that the role played by the organisation in supporting education by providing scholarships, educational materials and equipment has not only helped to improve the quality of education in the schools, but also helped students to go further. 

Mr. Lamont said that the CCJ’s support for education has helped to equip the next generation by helping to provide a better quality education for the students. 

He reiterated how much the Government recognised the importance of the Diaspora and has sought to strengthen it with the formal establishment of a Diaspora Board. He reported that Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, in her budget presentation, expressed her commitment to the overseas community, announcing that an inter-ministerial committee on Diaspora affairs will be created.

This committee’s mandate will be to ensure that linkages are in place for overseas-based nationals to be more fully involved in the island’s affairs.

For his part, Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Stephen Vasciannie, sent a message congratulating the CCJ for remaining steadfast in its commitment to nation-building, particularly through its many successful projects in key areas of education. 

Ambassador Vasciannie praised the CCJ for its support as well as for its emphasis on high school scholarships, providing internet access for public libraries, and other forms of vital support delivered in the area of education.

Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, sent a message underscoring the value of the CCJ as a grass-roots organisation dedicated to improving the lives of young Jamaicans through educational gifts and donations.

"Your focus on providing opportunities for Jamaican children in both Jamaica and Chicago by providing scholarships and educational materials is worthy of commendation,” he said.

Founder of the CCJ, Lorna Green, was presented with the CCJ Award, while Jamaica’s Honorary Consul in Illinois, Mr. Lloyd Hyde, received the CCJ Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding contribution to the Jamaican community in that state.