14 Foundations secure $752K in R4CR grants 

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Philipsburg – The Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR) program held a well-attended official launch of Round-6 projects on Thursday August 31 in the library of the St Maarten Academy in Cul de Sac. The R4CR program includes a grant scheme as funding mechanism for community and social rehabilitation initiatives on Sint Maarten and also focuses on improving the capacity of local civil society organizations (CSOs) in reconstruction and resilience activities post hurricane Irma.

Local self-made “Islandpreneur” Ife Badejo, representing R4CR’s Project Technical Committee (PTC) that oversees the program, congratulated the CSOs with their grants. Ms. Badejo was happy to finally engage with the people behind the dossiers that  PTC members evaluate, as they mostly operate in the background. “Be proud of your achievement and let everyone see the invaluable contribution that you are making to this community” Badejo advised the grant recipients.

R4CR Team Leader Steve Duzanson gave a summary of the Round-6 application process explaining that the process started with general information sessions (on April 12, April 13 and April 17) about the R4CR program which was followed by the official call for proposals on April 18. The submission deadline was midnight June 5 2023. The total available budget for Round-6 was US$750,000 with a maximum of $90,000 per single CSO project (or $120,000 for a joint project). R4CR received 28 project proposals requesting a total of just over US$2 million. The project proposals were subjected to an extensive assessment process that included administrative, technical and financial reviews in addition to a sixteen-point scoring grid system. Projects with an overall score of 70% or more were selected for financing and forwarded to the Project Technical Committee (PTC) for review and final approval.

The application success rate was 50% in Round-6, which is in line with the long-term average of the program. The 14 selected CSOs secured grants totalling $752,204 to execute their project during the period September 1, 2023 to April 30, 2024.

The selected projects are expected to have a big impact on the direct beneficiaries and the rest of community. “These are public funds that you will receive for project execution and you have the responsibility and obligation to use them in a respectful manner that will benefit your stakeholders and the entire community” Duzanson reminded the grant recipients.

The keynote speech was given by Rajesh Chintaman on behalf of 4C Foundation/NPOwer which provides support to local non-profit organizations and plays a major role in capacity strengthening of local CSOs. NPOwer in collaboration with SMDF have also launched a digital platform called Volunteer.sx. The platform is a matchmaking site where registered organizations can post what type of volunteers they need (‘‘opportunities”) and volunteers can post what type of activity they want to contribute to. The platform then matches the two parties and brings them in touch with each other. “Volunteer.sx is a powerful tool available free of charge to CSOs who need volunteers to assist at all levels of the organization” concluded Chintaman.

Following R4CR tradition, each grant recipient was given 1 minute to “pitch” their R4CR project:

The Down Syndrome St Maarten & Caribbean Foundation had the honor of launching the first pitch by explaining their project of establishing an afterschool location for children with Down Syndrome. SVOBE-Sundial used their 1 minute to describe the “Baby-Think-It-Over” project that will teach teenagers the realities of caring for a baby thereby helping to prevent teen pregnancy. ECO St Maarten Foundation was next in explaining their agricultural project in St Peters which will provide farming education, a large greenhouse and support budding farmers to develop the local agricultural sector.

Enhanced Living Foundation gave a synopsis of their project which will provide non-medical assistance to the elderly and infirm. The goal is to provide a good quality of life and keep the elderly living independently as long as possible. CIFSEF was happy to announce that the grant will be used to provide courses such as computer training for seniors, baking and sewing that will help participants in their personal growth and employment.

Stichting EGO is excited about their project to secure donated pre-owned playground equipment from municipalities in the Netherlands, to ensure that children on St Maarten have a safe environment to play under competent supervision and proper guidance in healthy (food) habits. On the other hand, FC Soualiga (Soccer Foundation), initially founded for women and girls’ soccer, will use their grant to reestablish female soccer covering all ages. St Maarten Academy’s project is focused on replacing the 26-year-old gym floor that barely survived hurricane Irma, as well as providing better protective measures.

The facility is not only used by the school but also by many other indoor sporting organizations. Tiny Tots Collage play school explained that they will use their grant to create a shaded outdoor play area for the kids.  In their one-minute pitch The NOW Generation Foundation elaborated on their day program facility for young adults leaving the foster care system after reaching 18, that will provide support for this vulnerable group making the transition.

Rehabilitating the lights at Jose Lake John Cooper ballpark is the sole focus of NSI’s project whereby R4CR will join forces with the Government to complete this much needed project. Tackling hunger and food waste are the central themes of Freegan Food Foundation’s project.  They will use their grant to help sustain families in need. Last but not least, No Kidding With Our Kids Foundation will extend their “Nature Nurtures” farm project for children. The farm showcases various farming systems and will be expanded with a gazebo and new plants to create an inviting environment to playfully teach kids about nature and agriculture.

After the one-minute pitches and some surprise activities designed to bring the organizations closer together, the CSOs participated in the Pre-Disbursement Training which all R4CR grant recipients must complete before any funds can be disbursed to their projects. 

The training gives the grant recipients a clear insight into the rules and regulations of the grant scheme, such as reporting requirements, financial management, training, capacity strengthening, requesting advances, stakeholder communication, and the social and environmental standards, applicable to the R4CR program.

The R4CR program is financed by the Government of the Netherlands via the Sint Maarten Trust Fund. The Trust Fund is administered by the World Bank and monitored by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB). The R4CR program is being implemented by VNGI.

For more information about the R4CR program or a detailed review of all R4CR projects please visit www.r4cr.org or the Facebook page (R4CRSXM).