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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Positive Pathways Initiative has awarded 14 grants, valued at a total of J$21 million combined, to community organisations that will support more than 500 parents, caregivers, and youth.

The organisations will be responsible for implementing programmes that will assist in the prevention of youth crime and violence. They are located across the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, and St. James.

Seven of them received the Community Peacebuilding Grant, which is focused on developing activities for improved pathways to achieve peace for youth, using their caregivers and parents.

They are the Violence Prevention Alliance in collaboration with the Jones Town Primary School, Kingston; Forward Step Foundation, St. Catherine; Peace and Love in Society, Clarendon; Family and Parenting Centre, St. James; Institute for Gender and Development Studies, Kingston; Sandals Foundation, St. James; and Salt Spring Community Development Committee Benevolent Society in St. James.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Law and Economics, St. Catherine, in collaboration with USAID Governance for Local Development (Project GOLD), the Peace and Love Society branches in Kingston and Clarendon and the Jones Town/Craig Town Benevolent Society in Kingston, all received the Social and Behavioural Science grants.

Under this grant, programme activities are designed to analyse and improve behavioural changes, while working with parents, caregivers, and youth.

Additionally, the Institute of Law and Economics with its partner Project GOLD and the Jones Town/Craig Town Benevolent Society in Kingston will also benefit from the Positive Youth Development grant.

They were recognised during a Grants Announcement Ceremony held at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday (November 24).

In her remarks at the ceremony, the Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of National Security, Ms. Shauna Trowers, said the administration of the grants aligns with the national strategic goal to reduce youth crime and violence.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have seen varied events happening. It is near impossible to overstate just how damaging the last year has been, particularly to our youth, their support system and the communities which have already been challenged, and now further disadvantaged by a pandemic,” she said.

“However, the Ministry of National Security remains positive that a success of initiatives such as this one, being directed to the individuals who need it, and who will benefit the most, will over time strengthen the resilience of the volatile and vulnerable communities and their residents to violence producers and their illegal activities,” she further pointed out.

Additionally, USAID Director of Citizen Security Ms. Shannon Stone, said the provision of these opportunities will “allow people and communities to flourish”.

“Activities of this nature provide young people with the opportunities to help them reach their full potential, to become… future leaders through training and access to requisite skills. We encourage others to be on the lookout for these upcoming opportunities to participate and be part of the positive change for the youth of this country,” she noted.

The grants were made available through the Positive Pathways Initiative. It is a five-year initiative valued at US$15.3 million that was committed by the US Government.

The initiative collaborates with the Government of Jamaica, local organisations, and targeted communities to support parents and families to steer young people away from a life of crime and violence.

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