Friend and fund-raising in the USA

by Marcia Erskine

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The old adage, “A friend in need is a friend in deed”, has rung true for fifty six years in the work of the American Foundation for The University of the West Indies (AFUWI).

Established in 1956 to develop an endowment fund in the USA, for The University of the West Indies

(UWI), the AFUWI has over the past decades provided scholarships and grants and funded many special projects to foster the development and growth of The UWI.

In 2011 alone, the AFUWI provided 35 scholarships to The UWI, raising the required funds through its annual awards gala in New York, which began in 1997. Designated by the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a 501(c) 3 charitable organization, the AFUWI also receives donations in cash and kind from “friends” of The UWI, which are tax deductible to the full extent of state and federal laws and which also help finance scholarships to The UWI.

AFUWI Chairman, Wesley Wainwright is totally committed to “aiding the aspirations and desires of a cadre of young, bright, ambitious students, who because of extremely challenging social and economic circumstances would not have been able to access a college education.”

Noting that the progress of the Caribbean is dependent on the actions of “a new generation of thought leaders” and the role played by The UWI in the development and growth of the region, Mr. Wainwright said, “the survival of this institution as an innovative, adaptive and creative force is critical.”

The AFUWI he declared, “is a major support for the growth and development of The UWI as it continues to play a pivotal role in the advancement of the Caribbean region.”

As such, Mr. Wainwright explained, “The AFUWI is seeking to provide both financial and in-kind aid to The UWI in support of its endeavours through fund raising and friend raising.” His vision is to leverage a variety of creative and innovative ways of networking past honourees, alums and donors while establishing a strong sense of connection between the economies of the USA and the Caribbean.”

The Chairman of AFUWI Partnership Board, Lowell Hawthorne, O.D., is equally upbeat about the task at hand. Noting that “UWI graduates have distinguished themselves as the ‘cream of the crop’ all over the world in a wide range of industries, Mr. Hawthorne said that “the AFUWI is committed to sourcing funding to ensure that the legacy of excellence is perpetuated at the institution for years to come.”

“The Partnership Board”, Mr. Hawthorne said, has embraced the vision of drawing alongside deserving students who lack the necessary funding to complete their education while seeking to add value to their learning experience, by providing mentors from whom they can garner first hand insight into the world of work and industry.”

His vision, he said, “is to see the foundation accomplish its goal of securing the resources required to assist deserving students who have earned the right to make an indelibly positive mark on society.”

The work of the AFUWI benefits from the support of a number of distinguished ‘Friends’ including the

Honorary Patron, Dr. The Hon. Harry Belafonte, O.J.; UWI Chancellor, Sir George Alleyne and Vice Chancellor, Professor E. Nigel Harris.

CNN’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Janet Rolle and Senior Vice President, Global Human Resources for Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Kaye Foster-Cheek, served as gala chair and dinner chair, respectively for the 15th annual awards gala, ‘The Legacy Continues’, in New York on January 25, 2012.

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