The newly-formed R3 Foundation is raising a significant war chest to help Cayman be better prepared for the next potential disaster.

The private-sector-led organisation, seeded by a $1 million grant from the Dart Foundation, believes it can play a significant role in the islands’ recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

But a large part of its remit, said board chairman Bryan Hunter, is ensuring the islands are ready for whatever comes next.

R3 stands for ‘readiness, relief and recovery’.

Hunter, a former partner at Appleby law firm, told the Cayman Compass he believes the foundation can bring new standards of accountability and open up new avenues of funding for non-profits across Cayman.

He said the aim was to provide support to existing charities that were functioning well, but also to help plug gaps in the non-profit sector, potentially even funding new organisations to meet needs that are currently not covered.

The first batch of grants, totalling US$500,000, was primarily focussed on relief efforts for those most seriously impacted by the current crisis. Cash went to charities like ARK, Feed Our Future, and Meals on Wheels, which have been providing meals and food vouchers to those in need.

Tara Nielsen of charity Acts of Random Kindness with R3 chairman Bryan Hunter. Photos and video: Alvaro Serey

Funding also went to Literacy is for Everyone to help pay for computers and internet access for children who were ‘digitally disadvantaged’ when schools were closed.

In addition, R3 paid for 10 scholarships to the Inspire Cayman vocational training school to help retrain people who had lost jobs because of the virus and the lockdown. Additional money was allocated to allow children to attend YMCA summer camps in an effort to help their parents get back to work.

As the immediate and urgent need for food begins to abate, Hunter said the foundation will continue to focus on education and training to help find a role for those who had lost jobs in the post-COVID-19 economy.

“There’s going to be a renewed focus on how to get kids to take advantage of the jobs that do exist in areas like construction, like financial services, and things of that sort,” he said.

R3 is also looking at preparations for hurricane season and planning for other potential disasters beyond COVID-19.

One of the aims is to help facilitate a more robust non-profit sector that has all bases covered and has access to a steady stream of funding.

“We would like to alleviate their burden when it comes to fundraising, so instead of having to focus on where they get their next dollar from, they can focus on what they do best,” he said.

The Dart Foundation made the first $1 million grant to R3 and has pledged to match private-sector donations up to an additional $4 million.

Hunter said another $1 million had been raised or pledged, over and above Dart’s initial donation.

He believes the foundation’s strong governance structure, which includes Governor Martyn Roper and former Attorney General Richard Coles in oversight and supervisory roles, can offer guarantees to donors that their money will be well spent.

“One of our goals is to ensure that anyone that we support is able to effectively and efficiently provide the support that they’re focussing on, so as to give confidence to our donors that their funding is being put to good use,” Hunter said.

In turn, he expects that donor confidence will help R3 raise enough money to make a significant difference in post-COVID Cayman.

“We feel that we are here for the long term, not just for the COVID-19 crisis, but for crises going forward,” he said.

What does R3 stand for?

Readiness: Safeguarding the Cayman Islands by preparing for a range of potential natural or man-made disasters.

Relief: Coordinating assistance for people or entities affected by a disaster or emergency.

Recovery: Rebuilding communities, stimulating the economy and protecting the environment through short- to medium-term initiatives.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now