Dart donates $250,000 to charities

From left, Melanie Coffey, Susie Bodden and Lynne Currie of the Special Needs Foundation Cayman, with Pilar Bush, Dominic Ross, and Kathy Jackson of Dart at the presentation of a $50,000 donation. - Photo: Submitted

Eight non-profit organisations have received $25,000 each and $50,000 has gone to the Special Needs Foundation as part of $250,000 in grants distributed by Dart Enterprises.

In a news release, Dart officials said its grant programme, which launched earlier this year, is designed to provide “targeted support to well-run, registered non-profits with high-value work in the areas of youth development, education or the environment”.

In its initial year, the Dart Grants programme received 50 applications from local non-profits. Dart’s staff, of approximately 400 people, was invited to vote for the recipient of the top grant from the three top-scoring finalists.

The Special Needs Foundation was selected as the recipient, and the other two finalists, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute and the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, will each receive $25,000.

“Although there are approximately 1,400 children with special needs in the Cayman Islands, there are limited specialty education opportunities available locally and special needs children are routinely denied admission to mainstream schools,” Dart Enterprises stated.

In partnership with US-based The Haring Centre, a leader in inclusive education, the Special Needs Foundation’s Inclusion Programme aims to increase the number of school places available in mainstream education for children with special needs, improve the stability and success of existing placements, and deliver professional development and coaching to local educators.

Announcing the recipients recently, Dart Chief Executive Officer Mark VanDevelde said, “Dart Grants is intended to support well-run, local non-profit organisations scale their positive impact and improve quality of life in the Cayman Islands. Either directly or indirectly, education, the environment and youth development underpin a sustainable economy.

“I would like to thank all applicants to the 2019 Dart Grants programme for supporting this new initiative, and congratulate all applicants who made it through the competitive, two-stage application process. Working together we can better our community.”

Special Needs Foundation Chief Executive Officer Susie Bodden said that over the last 10 years, the foundation’s primary goals have been “to advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families, and raise awareness about the importance of inclusion”.

She added, “We believe that all children should have a voice and be given the same opportunities to develop to their maximum potential. This CI$50,000 Dart Grant will enable us to increase the number of school places available in mainstream education for children with special needs, improve the stability and success of placements where they already exist, and deliver professional development and coaching to local educators.”

The remaining six $25,000 grants were awarded to the Alex Panton Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Cayman’s Acts of Random Kindness, the Cayman Islands Sailing Club, Literacy Is For Everyone, and the Stingray Swim Club.

The application period for next year’s Dart Grants will open in January 2020. Visit www.dart.ky for more details.

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