June 19, 2009 — Just a few days after convening on St. Croix to announce the results of the 2008 Kids Count Data Book, members of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands met in St. Thomas Friday for their annual meeting.
While the results of the survey on the welfare of children in the territories were mixed, program officials said the foundation is doing better than ever, despite the current economic downturn.
Ricardo J. Charaf, CFVI chairman, said foundation members met the goal they set for themselves last year to give out more than $1 million in grants. He said that in 2008, the foundation provided more than $1.5 million in grants, scholarships and services. He also said that this is the fifth year that the group was able to give away more than $1 million.
"Were excited," said Dee Baecher Brown, president of the foundation. She said they had a banner year financially, despite the fact that they did their fundraising at the end of the year, which was when the effects of the declining economy were really beginning to be felt.
While the earlier meeting focused on some of the harsher realities youth in territories face (see: " Kids Count 2008: Single-Mother Families Up, Child Poverty Down"), Friday was an opportunity to focus on successes. Young girls from the Art Rainbow Dancers performed, as did flautist Camila Daniels and pianist Zaid Sewer.
Seventy-seven scholarships worth $216,725 were also awarded to students ranging from high school to those pursuing their graduate studies. Among them were awards for college students studying music, environmental sciences and hospitality. Fifteen high school students were awarded funds for off-island summer enrichment programs.
The group also took time out to honor the graduation of eight "Junior Angels," high school students who did volunteer work on behalf of the foundation.
Judith Richardson again explained the results of the ninth annual Kids Count report for those who had not been able to make it to the St. Croix meeting. She noted that the number of "detached" teens, or those who are not in school or working, is 300 percent higher than the national rate. She said those results emphasized the need for high-quality early childhood education, which could help decrease the number of dropouts and juvenile delinquents.
Brown said that CFVI is available to meet with anyone wishing to know more details about the results of the Kids Count Survey. The group can be contacted at 774-6031.
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