Local businesschooses unexpected scholars

| 21/12/2010

(CNS): A young local businessman has taken a different approach with his contribution to scholarships for Caymanians. Victor Crumbley, owner of Dash Strategies, a boutique consultancy business created a grant system aimed not at straight ‘A’ students but at young men who would not otherwise have considered further education. Now celebrating its second year Crumbley said that the programme has provided scholarships to 13 young people to pursue further education locally. He said given that it costs around $40,000 for students to complete degrees overseas that same amount could fund 15 students in need of training here on island.

A scholarship from Greenlight RE made a difference in Crumbley’s own life and the reinsurer is now partnering with him and Dash to help with the specialist scholarship programme he explained. The programme reaches out to unemployed Caymanian men who are not enrolled in a higher education institution. It then identifies the courses that match their interests and mentors the young men as they go through their learning process.

Crumbley said that the programme has flourished due to the generous financial assistance of Greenlight and so far nine of the 13 students in the scholarship programme are still enrolled in more study or have gained meaningful employment.

Michael Gourzong who was able to attend and successfully complete a certificate course at the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) in Electronics and Electrical Insulation is now pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Auto Mechanics, Management and High Performance from the New England Institute of Technology through a student loan program.

“I’m thankful for the help I received from Greenlight Re and Dash Strategies. The scholarship helped my family and I a great deal. Victor played an important role in my year at UCCI. He was always checking up on how I was doing with my classes and was willing to help me find any assistance I needed in order to finish my course,” said Gourzong. “I had to do my part in all of this which was to keep up my grades and complete the course. I enjoyed my first year at college and the experience, and the environment that UCCI had to offer. It is another milestone in my journey to completing a college degree.”

Crumbly said the program has one goal and that is to inspire young people who would not otherwise consider completing or furthering their education. “The way we do this is by providing them with financial support and targeted academic and mentoring,” said Crumbley, explaining how mentoring is a vital part of the scholarship programme.

“Many of these young persons have complicated backgrounds. Many do not know how to access support or assistance or do not believe that it is available to them. In most cases, they simply need to know that someone on their side and wants them to have a bright future. It’s more than throwing money at young persons and saying, "do good". It’s about empowering them to take advantage of the opportunities available,” Crumbley added.

Len Goldberg, CEO of Greenlight RE said the firm had partnered with Crumbley for five years, first as a student and now providing financial assistance for his vision. “We are pleased that he is using his talents to provide opportunities for often overlooked young people,” Goldberg added.

The Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Employment Relations and Dash Strategies were among the agencies that referred students to the program. After receiving feedback from program participants, it was found that many were discouraged from enrolling full-time because they needed to contribute to their families. A voucher program for various necessities was instituted to facilitate the transition.

Crumbley said he is proud of Gourzong and all of the participants and said that the success of a scholarship programme is measured by the ability of those in the programme to gain meaningful employment of go on to further study. “Dash Strategies is hopeful that the programme will continue to grow and provide opportunities to break the existing cycle many youth face in the Cayman Islands,” the young business man added.

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