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Not for Profit: Children's Trust of the Virgin Islands

Nov. 19, 2007 — Let's say you are a seven-year-old, living in a single parent household with your mother. It's getting close to your birthday, and your mother has warned you not to expect too much.
You are one of 47.5 of the territory's 31,600 children living in a family headed by a single mother. Seventy percent of all poverty-level families with children are headed by single mothers, according to the U.S. Virgin Islands Kids Count Data Book 2006. The book, published annually, provides a statistical look at children and families in the territory, tracking trends over the past 15 years. Part of a national initiative sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, it is a sobering document.
Who is going to look out for the interests of the seven-year-old? It turns out there's lot of agencies out there, and one who seeks to unite them.
The Children's Trust of the Virgin Islands is a fund of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, whose mission is to advocate on behalf of the children of the Virgin Islands.
Established in 2005, it is a new voice in children's advocacy, with a unique mission: networking. Its public face is the initiative called Voices of V.I. Children, which is working to build and support a network of child advocates working on issues affecting the territory's child population.
"Anywhere in the world, a child’s best bet for growing up with access to health, safety and
opportunity is to live in a family that generates a stable, supportive income," writes child activist Judith Richardson, head of the Family Connection and a Children's Trust board member.
The trust was established in 2005 by a permanent endowment of $250,000 from the George R. Morris Boystown Trust. Attorney Tom Bolt said the initiative came from Gov. John deJongh Jr. when he was Community Foundation of the V. I. board chairman, and Dee Baecher-Brown, CFVI president.
"John was interested in child advocacy, and they came to me to help set up funding for a program," Bolt said.
Baecher-Brown explained that the trust is a donor-advised fund at CFVI. The Morris trust's purpose is to support what its donor advised fund supports, the work of Voices for V.I. Children. "This was initiated after the fund was established to begin the work of determining the needs of child advocacy," she said.
"Voices is a nationwide organization, Voices of America's Children, and V.I. Voices is an affiliate, working to identify the needs of children, so that the network can support the work, bring resources to them, and provide a unified voice."
Bolt says his law firm does pro bono work for the trust, which is headed by project director Donnalie Edwards-Cabey.
Edwards-Cabey was eager to talk about the trust, and about another endeavor of hers involved with children, starting the local YWCA. (See "Not for Profit: YWCA of the Virgin Islands".)
Edwards-Cabey readily said the group has its hands full. "We have been meeting for more than a year," she says. "We studied Kids Count. We want to take that data beyond, and see how to translate those figures into affecting local children's policy."
Over the past year, the trust issued a draft report authored by the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington, D.C. and a proposal for education reform from the Education Trust, also in Washington.
It's a formidable task, but it has a formidable cadre of professionals working on it. Board member Alda Monsanto, longtime civic activist and CFVI Board member, took time out from enjoying the St. Thomas-St. John Agriculture Fair Saturday to talk about where the trust is heading.
"We've been meeting for over a year," she said, "to define our goals. To move forward, we need to gather and organize all the agencies working with children so we can speak in a united voice and help each other."
She added, "I'm really excited about it, I can tell you."
The trust board comprises Tom Bolt, chairman; Lauritz Mills, Bureau of Economic Research director; Monsanto, Richardson and former educator Lana Vento.
Edwards-Cabey said, "In the new year, we'll have an outreach program with not-for-profits about strengthening child's advocacy in the V. I."
She says one of the first steps "is to study legislation that affects children and formulate a positive look at laws we could strengthen."
"As advocates," Edwards-Cabey said, "we are legally not able to lobby for a particular piece of legislation."
For additional information, contact the fund at 714-1121.
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Nov. 19, 2007 -- Let's say you are a seven-year-old, living in a single parent household with your mother. It's getting close to your birthday, and your mother has warned you not to expect too much.
You are one of 47.5 of the territory's 31,600 children living in a family headed by a single mother. Seventy percent of all poverty-level families with children are headed by single mothers, according to the U.S. Virgin Islands Kids Count Data Book 2006. The book, published annually, provides a statistical look at children and families in the territory, tracking trends over the past 15 years. Part of a national initiative sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, it is a sobering document.
Who is going to look out for the interests of the seven-year-old? It turns out there's lot of agencies out there, and one who seeks to unite them.
The Children's Trust of the Virgin Islands is a fund of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, whose mission is to advocate on behalf of the children of the Virgin Islands.
Established in 2005, it is a new voice in children's advocacy, with a unique mission: networking. Its public face is the initiative called Voices of V.I. Children, which is working to build and support a network of child advocates working on issues affecting the territory's child population.
"Anywhere in the world, a child’s best bet for growing up with access to health, safety and
opportunity is to live in a family that generates a stable, supportive income," writes child activist Judith Richardson, head of the Family Connection and a Children's Trust board member.
The trust was established in 2005 by a permanent endowment of $250,000 from the George R. Morris Boystown Trust. Attorney Tom Bolt said the initiative came from Gov. John deJongh Jr. when he was Community Foundation of the V. I. board chairman, and Dee Baecher-Brown, CFVI president.
"John was interested in child advocacy, and they came to me to help set up funding for a program," Bolt said.
Baecher-Brown explained that the trust is a donor-advised fund at CFVI. The Morris trust's purpose is to support what its donor advised fund supports, the work of Voices for V.I. Children. "This was initiated after the fund was established to begin the work of determining the needs of child advocacy," she said.
"Voices is a nationwide organization, Voices of America's Children, and V.I. Voices is an affiliate, working to identify the needs of children, so that the network can support the work, bring resources to them, and provide a unified voice."
Bolt says his law firm does pro bono work for the trust, which is headed by project director Donnalie Edwards-Cabey.
Edwards-Cabey was eager to talk about the trust, and about another endeavor of hers involved with children, starting the local YWCA. (See "Not for Profit: YWCA of the Virgin Islands".)
Edwards-Cabey readily said the group has its hands full. "We have been meeting for more than a year," she says. "We studied Kids Count. We want to take that data beyond, and see how to translate those figures into affecting local children's policy."
Over the past year, the trust issued a draft report authored by the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington, D.C. and a proposal for education reform from the Education Trust, also in Washington.
It's a formidable task, but it has a formidable cadre of professionals working on it. Board member Alda Monsanto, longtime civic activist and CFVI Board member, took time out from enjoying the St. Thomas-St. John Agriculture Fair Saturday to talk about where the trust is heading.
"We've been meeting for over a year," she said, "to define our goals. To move forward, we need to gather and organize all the agencies working with children so we can speak in a united voice and help each other."
She added, "I'm really excited about it, I can tell you."
The trust board comprises Tom Bolt, chairman; Lauritz Mills, Bureau of Economic Research director; Monsanto, Richardson and former educator Lana Vento.
Edwards-Cabey said, "In the new year, we'll have an outreach program with not-for-profits about strengthening child's advocacy in the V. I."
She says one of the first steps "is to study legislation that affects children and formulate a positive look at laws we could strengthen."
"As advocates," Edwards-Cabey said, "we are legally not able to lobby for a particular piece of legislation."
For additional information, contact the fund at 714-1121.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.