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OAS New Path Initiative Finances Projects by 23 At-risk Youth in Jamaica

  November 26, 2018

The Organization of American States (OAS), together with the Ministry of National Security of Jamaica, the Trust of the Americas (TRUST) and the Institute of Law and Economics last Friday granted 23 youth in conflict with the law grants of $JA350,000 to implement their business plans.

The awards were delivered at the conclusion of a week-long workshop for 42 young people in conflict with the law entitled “Pitch IT!: Learning and investing in your future.” During the workshop, the participants, from the Jamaican juvenile facilities South Camp, Metcalfe, Rio Cobre, and Hill Top took worked on the development and implementation of different business ideas.

The workshop is part of the program “A New Path: Promoting a Healthy Environment and Productive Alternatives for Juvenile Remandees and Offenders in Jamaica,” an initiative promoted by the OAS and the TRUST, with the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The project seeks to improve the lives of youth in conflict with the law. A priority of “A New Path” is to offer support for youth to address their emotional, social, educational, and economic challenges, working in key areas to enable the successful economic and social integration of youth.

Ina Hunter, Commissioner of Correctional Services of Jamaica, said “the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is heartened by the efforts of the OAS in enabling the young men and women who were once in the care and custody of the DCS to build a platform for their successful reintegration. Pitch It! provides the forum for innovative business ventures and opportunities toward self-actualization. The stories of passion, pride, potential and promise are uplifting and inspirational; providing hope in situations that could otherwise be hopeless.”

The OAS Representative in Jamaica, Jeanelle van Glaanenweygel, told participants “on behalf of OAS and TRUST, our deepest congratulations for being here. You were given an opportunity and you have decided to make the most of it. With the knowledge and skills you gained, I am sure you will grow and contribute to the economic prosperity of Jamaica”. She added “all of you will leave this room with the most important thing we could have granted: the knowledge and skills to become protagonists of your own life. I encourage you to continue persevering in your hard work and I guarantee you that we will offer you other paths. This does not end here; the project has many other opportunities for you to take.”

For his part, Jason Fraser, Country Representative of the United States Agency for International Development, said the agency is “pleased that “A New Path” goes one step further and works with the private sector and civil society to achieve the successful economic inclusion of the youth, either by job placements or by entrepreneurial enterprises. To that regard, I am a great enthusiast of entrepreneurship as a powerful tool to promote economic prosperity among disadvantaged populations in the world.”

Linda Eddleman, CEO of the Trust for the Americas, said “A New Path is a comprehensive project that provides young people with skills and motivation to engage in productive activities. This recent Pitch It! was not only an exciting and inspiring event but also an opportunity for youth to share ideas, receive peer recommendations and meet mentors. We are proud of them and cannot wait to see how these youth turn ideas and projects into viable economic ventures!”

This entrepreneurship workshop is the third cycle that has taken place within the program framework. In total, the New Path project has impacted more than 250 youth, 133 of which participated in a residential program and 62 of them were awarded micro-grants to start their business.

Press contact:
Miguel Ángel Cañada [email protected]
TRUST: Javier Monterroso [email protected]
USAID Jamaica: Kimberley Weller [email protected]

Reference: E-074/18