$292K for 14 local projects with R4CR grants 

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Philipsburg – The 7th (and possibly final) round of grants from the Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR) program was launched on Thursday February 22 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.

Representatives of the 14 grant recipients were congratulated by Task Team Leader Alex Kamurase and two colleagues of the World Bank, who travelled from Washington DC to be present for the event. Also offering congratulatory words to the CSOs was “Islandpreneur” Ife Badejo, who sits on R4CR’s Project Technical Committee that oversees the program.

R4CR Team Leader Steve Duzanson gave a brief summary of the Round-7 application process explaining that the process started with general information sessions (on November 1 and November 2) about the R4CR program which was followed by the official call for proposals on November 3. The submission deadline for project proposals was midnight December 10 2023. The total available budget for Round-7 was US$300,000 with a maximum of $20,000 per single CSO project (or $30,000 for a joint project). R4CR received 19 project proposals requesting a total of US$380,000. 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 73% in Round-7, which was 20% higher than in previous rounds. Duzanson attributed this significant increase to the capacity building and strengthening efforts embedded in the R4CR program that all CSOs on the island benefitted from.

The 14 selected CSOs secured grants totaling $292,900 to execute their project during the implementation period from March 1 2024 to August 31 2024.

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

Kingdom Courtyard had the honor of “throwing” the first pitch by detailing the purpose of the foundation and their project of providing counseling and support to parents who lost a child. Carib Swim Team used their 1-minute to explain their project of purchasing much needed swimming equipment for the club. The St Maarten Little League Foundation will also use their grant to purchase and replace damaged equipment so that their kids can play the game safely and help kids who do not have the necessary gear. Bishop Ellis Foundation gave a synopsis of their project which will assist persons living in poverty with much needed basic food supplies.

The Art Agency Foundation (better known as Axum Café) was happy to announce that their grant will be used to provide training and workshops to empower artists on the business side of their craft. EPIC is excited about their plastic recycling project which they hope will divert some plastic from reaching the landfill and make new products from plastic waste. An awareness and educational campaign are also crucial parts of the project. Stichting Building Bridges Saving Lives on the other hand will use their grant to tackle Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and raise awareness of sexually transmitted diseases and sexual violence in vulnerable groups. Leaders For Change, a newly established foundation, will focus on the homeless and “rough sleepers” to provide food and other essential supplies. The foundation will also conduct a needs assessment and make an attempt to accurately quantify the problem. Leaders For Change, through their connection with CIFSEF, also arranged the catering for the event. Three students from CIFSEF’s baking course presented beautifully decorated cakes and cupcakes for the attendees.

The COME Center explained that they will use their grant to provide computer classes and sewing classes to senior citizens.  The St Maarten Yacht Club teamed up with Kids At Sea in a collaborative effort to create a training program for local sailing instructors. They hope to attract young local talent to become sailing instructors and secure a job in the fast-growing maritime sector. 

Another collaborative project is that of Stichting EGO and National Institute of Arts (NIA) who are working together to secure high quality pre-owned gym equipment from the Netherlands for use at NIA, several schools and playgrounds. The project will also measure the fitness of students in a few catholic primary schools and design a summer boot camp to help them improve their health.

The venerable Patsy Flanders used her one-minute pitch to detail how the grant will be used for activities aimed at senior citizens who frequent her (Home Away From Home) foundation. 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 kids can immerse themselves in nature on the farm.

Hearts United Holistic Care Foundation could not be present for the pitch but their adult literacy program will continue to benefit from the R4CR grant in Round-7.

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 pre-disbursement 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).