The Bitter End Yacht Club, the Bitter End Foundation and the Hokin family are delighted to announce their continued partnership alongside The Guana Fund, Unite BVI, and the McLain Association for Children in support of the BVI Chromebooks Project. This April, Bitter End purchased 132 additional devices, bringing the total to over 1,000 Chromebooks contributed by the group to the Ministry of Education and to several financially needy private schools in the British Virgin Islands.
The on-going objective of the Chromebooks Project is to empower public high school students and educators with enriched experiences and opportunities for learning beyond and outside of the classroom. First launched in the Fall of 2017 following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, the project has once again emerged as an effective educational response to the COVID-19 crisis, addressing the need for appropriate devices and resources to keep students learning, even while education has moved entirely on-line for the remainder of the school year.
The Chromebooks Project was created to provide a laptop-style computer to every senior public high school student in the BVI. While the original goal had been 650 devices, the recent contribution by the Bitter End Yacht Club brings the total to 1,017. In addition, BVI teachers have received professional development through expert trainers from Kiker Learning, a partner of Google Education, as well as access to a special FLOW platform developed specifically for the BVI educational system. “This program was developed out of necessity in the wake of the 2017 hurricanes” said Lauren Hokin, a managing owner of Bitter End Yacht Club. “The COVID-19 crisis has reminded us again of the value of keeping students focused and ensuring continuity of learning via flexible and adaptable platforms for teaching and delivery of curriculum.”
In the three years since the hurricanes, the Ministry of Education and teachers of the BVI have overcome tremendous challenges, working tirelessly to improve the student experience with as little disruption as possible to kids’ day-to-day lives. “It has been very rewarding to work alongside our partners at The Guana Fund, Unite BVI, and the McLain Association for Children to bring this program to fruition, and even more heartening to see the great results that teachers and students alike are achieving thanks to their commitment and hard work, along with access to the right tools” said Hokin.
Partnership was key to this initiative. “This project came about because we listened to the Ministry of Education and the local community after the hurricanes and were responsive to their needs,” said Dr. Henry Jarecki of The Guana Fund. “With the BVI quickly pivoting to on-line schooling in response to COVID-19, I am encouraged to see the Chromebooks project expand to meet this latest challenge. I hope that more donors will join our BVI Funders Group in doing this and other important work to benefit the BVI.”
Unite BVI’s vision also played a major role. “During the recovery after the 2017 hurricanes we were fortunate to understand that a transition to on-line education was a key to a resilient future. Home education offers opportunities for collaborative learning solutions, interaction with global experts and multimedia resources to inspire how we define the classroom of tomorrow,” added Kim Takeuchi of Unite BVI. Danika Stoutt of the McLain Association for Children (MAC) reiterated that “the collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the BVI Funders’ Group is a true indicator of the commitment to, belief in, and support of the continued advancement of the BVI community. The provision of innovative tools such as the Chromebooks and additional professional development opportunities for our teachers can lead to positive and powerful transformation in instructional access, delivery, and inclusion.”
Since Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the fall of 2017, the Bitter End Foundation and its predecessor philanthropic vehicles have raised nearly $1,000,000 to support grant making and other charitable activities, primarily in the British Virgin Islands. “Thanks to the kindness and generosity of Bitter End guests, family and friends, our philanthropic activities have helped enable programs that will support a stronger, healthier, and more sustainable future for the people of the BVI,” Hokin concluded.
About The Bitter End Foundation
Bitter End’s non-profit affiliate, the Bitter End Foundation, commenced in September of 2017 as the Bitter End Irma Relief Fund, responding to the catastrophic impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Today, the foundation (a registered 501 (c)(3)) provides financial and in-kind support to communities that depend on the sea for their livelihoods and well-being. The foundation supports programming in the areas of education, wellness, and environmental conservation and stewardship.
About the Unite BVI Foundation
The Unite BVI Foundaion is a not-for-profit foundation based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The purpose is to bring together people, great ideas and resources to tackle community and environmental challenges in ways that bring about sustainable, positive impact for the benefit of this and future generations.
About the Jarecki Family & The Guana Fund
With support from the Jarecki Family, The Guana Fund supports education, youth, community empowerment, and a culture of learning in the BVI, with a special focus on building the capacity of local non-profits and encouraging the local community to volunteer and give back.
About the McLain Association for Children
A vision of Cathy McLain and Roy Southworth, McLain Association for Children (MAC) was established in order to transform the lives of the most vulnerable in the BVI and beyond by providing the resources and services necessary for them to reach their full potential. A US-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, MAC focuses on disability services and education, working closely with governments, local providers, and families to improve practices, equip practitioners, strengthen systems of support, and increase overall access to services and information.