Category: Press Releases

St. Croix Foundation announces awards for Sprint to Excellence and other educational grants

The St. Croix Foundation is pleased to announce that the second round of Sprint to Excellence Education Grants is being offered to public schools on the island of St. Croix. As an extension of the Foundation’s Model Schools Initiative, the Sprint to Excellence Grant Program was launched in the fall of 2011 and offers grants up to $10,000 to schools for projects in the following priority areas: 1) Innovative Instruction and Professional Development; 2) Literacy Enrichment and Assessment; 3) Classroom Management and; 4) Mentoring and Personal Development.

During the first grant cycle, the Foundation awarded $32,500 to public schools for the implementation of high-impact, academic-based initiatives. 2012 Grants were awarded to the following:

1. St. Croix Educational Complex – $10,000 for ‘Model Schools Site Visits’ and for their ‘Implement Literacy: Reading Interventions Program Evaluation.’
2. John H. Woodson Junior High School – $7,500 for a ‘Group Reading for Students’ Initiative and for implementing a comprehensive Classroom Management program.
3. Elena Christian Junior High School – $7,500 for a Literacy Program, entitled “Speak Up and Listen” in addition to a “St. Croix Youths Doing Something Positive” mentoring program.
4. Evelyn Williams Elementary School – $2,500 for their Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) Program.
5. Department of Education – $5,000 for the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) Program to cover the cost of UVI student tutors for the Program.

The St. Croix Foundation’s STE Grant Review Committee has established a phased grant disbursement schedule which seeks to ensure that schools stay focused in meeting self-identified programmatic goals and timelines. In demonstration of their commitment to each school’s success, the Foundation will provide financial support throughout the duration of the project, with the hope that successful initiatives will serve as models for other schools in the future.

According to St. Croix Foundation, Chief Operations Officer, Deanna James, “the Foundation is deeply committed to supporting innovative and collaborative educational projects. In these challenging economic times, our organization is acutely aware of how critical the funding provided through our grants is for our schools and for community organizations.”

The Foundation wishes to invite corporate citizens and individual donors in the community to join them in pooling charitable resources together so that we can collectively support more high-impact educational opportunities for our students and our schools. The ultimate goal of the Foundation’s Sprint To Excellence Grant Program is to provide larger grants to schools in order to support best practices and rapid innovations which can, in turn, foster the Foundation’s vision of large-scale educational transformation throughout the Territory. Grant Deadline is May 15, 2014.

For more information on the Sprint To Excellence Grant program or to donate to this funds, please call the St. Croix Foundation at 773-9898.

Together, We Can Make A Difference!

St. Croix Foundation Opens Spring Grant Cycle For Summer Enrichment Programs

The St. Croix Foundation is pleased to offer two summer scholarship opportunities for students on St. Croix.

1. Dove Memorial Art Scholarship Fund
Funded through generous seed donations from local attorney Diane Russell and Don and Patricia Weeden in 2005, the DOVE Arts Scholarship Fund was created in memory of the late Crucian artist, Lloyd “Dove” Braffith. Through this Fund scholarships of up to $750 will be awarded to young people are serious about developing their skills in the arts including creative writing.

With a broad focus on performing, culinary and visual arts, the Dove Memorial Scholarship offers grants to public and private school students in grades 7th thru 11th on the island of St. Croix for the purpose of attending internships and summer art enrichment programs.

2. Math and Science Scholarship Fund
The Foundation is also accepting applications for its Math and Science Scholarship Fund which was launched in 2005 and awards grants of up to $2,000 to qualifying public high school students on the island of St. Croix. To be eligible for this grant, students must have a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of a (B) or better and be accepted into an accredited enrichment program locally or stateside, with a specific focus on math or science.

Since the inception of both the Funds, over $75,000 in grants has been awarded.

THE APPLICATION DEADLINES FOR BOTH THE DOVE AND MATH and SCIENCE SCHOLARSHIPS ARE MAY 15TH, 2014. Interested parties should e-mail their requests for an application to the Foundation at or call the St. Croix Foundation directly at 773-9898 for more information.

St. Croix Foundation & Facebook Partner for St. Croix Culinary Student Internship

This past weekend, two young Virgin Islanders embarked on a chance of a lifetime internship with Facebook Executive Chefs at the social media Mega Corporation in prestigious Silicon Valley. For 21 year olds Aaron Tutein and Denika Boyd, both former students of The St. Croix Career and Technical Center (CTEC) Culinary Program, the opportunity is a dream come true.

Their internship is the result of a meeting with Facebook Culinary Executive Chef & Director, Josef DeSimone, and his team of executive chefs who participated in the 2013 St. Croix Food and Wine Experience. The chefs spent a week working with young people from CTEC, mentoring the burgeoning young cooks for the annual Sunset BBQ event on the Frederiksted Pier. Chef DeSimone formed a strong connection with the CTEC students and, in turn, handpicked Aaron and Denika to attend a two week internship in Facebook’s corporate kitchen.

Upon Chef Josef DeSimone’s return to California after the 2013 St. Croix Food and Wine Experience, he also pledged to continue his relationship with CTEC and help train culinary students. Sadly, just two weeks later, Josef passed away in a tragic motorcycle accident. In memoriam of his commitment to young people, his brother Billy DeSimone, and colleagues, Tony Castellucci and Dean Spinks, made Josef’s vision a reality. Remaining in direct contact with the St. Croix Foundation, Facebook Chefs Castellucci and Spinks committed to fulfilling Josef’s promise of providing a career boosting opportunity for St. Croix youth. Billy, Josef’s brother (also a chef) went on to establish the Josef DeSimone Giving the Dream Memorial Foundation, which will begin providing scholarships to aspiring young chefs in 2015.

Located in San Francisco Bay Area, Facebook’s headquarters is in northern California’s Silicon Valley, home to many of the world’s largest technology corporations and thousands of small startups, including a large number of silicon chip innovators and manufacturers for the United States’ high-technology sector.

Prior to their departure on Sunday, February 23rd, Aaron and Denika were sized for chef jackets and readying themselves to study under the tutelage of Executive Chefs at Facebook’s California Headquarters. St. Croix Foundation staff provided the interns modern computer tablets and installed contact information and other critical information based apps to facilitate their travel and success. In addition to technical support, staff assisted the interns with building professional resumes and cover letters and coached them on interview skills. According to Deanna James, Chief Operations Officer of the Foundation, “We are so proud of these two young people, and we have confidence that they understand this opportunity means more than just what it can do for them individually. It is affording them the chance to be role models for other Virgin Islanders who aspire to part of this global environment.”

Students will be provided with a rigorous curriculum in which they will strengthen their culinary skills ranging from learning kitchen etiquette and creating innovative recipes to wielding chef knives with precision. Aaron believes the opportunity will be a life changing event: “Cooking, to me, in one word means, ‘Life.’ I’m ecstatic to have this privilege to intern at Facebook– this is a next step up the ladder for me, and I thank the Facebook Culinary Team and the St. Croix Foundation.”

Denika said of her experience, “It was a great opportunity to work with Chef Josef. I only wish that I’d had more time so that I could have learned more from him. He encouraged me to move forward with my culinary career, and I thank him and Chef Anton Doos (CTEC Culinary Instructor) for that. It is even more exciting to intern at Facebook.”

Roger Dewey, President of the Foundation, stated that, “As the St. Croix Foundation’s annual fundraiser, the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience funds critical projects focusing on public education reform, public safety, and community & economic development. We also estimate that this event series has brought nearly 4 million dollars of economic activity into the US Virgin Islands economy since its inception.” He continued, “This event is the catalyst that nets positive benefits for the Virgin Islands as evidenced by this partnership with Facebook.”

Named as one of the top 10 food and wine festivals in the world by, the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience is a weeklong event series that began with its anchor event, A Taste of St. Croix in 2001. With 14 events that range from kids cooking classes to elegant private dinners to barbeques on the waterfront, the 2014 theme is “Culinary Futures” and it aims to promote the future of St. Croix’s diverse and expert culinary industry, including showcasing and supporting St. Croix’s younger talent pool. As their newest 365 Project, A Taste of St. Croix built the St. Croix Culinary Juniors, a team of four seventh and eighth grade students who will learn the basics of a kitchen, be trained by a St. Croix Executive Chef Gary Klinefelter, and cook with celebrity Chef Todd Gray, First Lady Michelle Obama’s favorite chef, at the 2014 St. Croix Food and Wine Experience. The project serves to complement existing programs and helps create a pipeline of opportunities to interest, engage, and prepare St. Croix youth for a career in the culinary arts. Katherine Pugliese, Co Founder of A Taste of St. Croix, believes that these experiences lead to opportunities like internships at Facebook and stated that, “We are very fortunate to have known Josef. He saw talent here on St. Croix that might have never been brought to light. It is our hope that these students continue his legacy of the love of food, people, and giving back to their community.”

St. Croix Foundation and A Taste of St. Croix are still seeking partners to fund this extraordinary opportunity, asking corporate citizens and community members to band together to sponsor Aaron and Denika’s travel and hotel stay for their culinary internship at Facebook.

The St. Croix Foundation would like to thank A Taste of St. Croix, Facebook and their extraordinary Culinary Team, Watkins PR, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Education Foundation, Kazi Management, TEAM Consultants, the Career and Technical Education Center, and Chef Anton Doos.

To support this and other worthwhile efforts of the St. Croix Foundation, contact at 340-773-9898 or visit their The Foundation will also be following Denika and Aaron on their Facebook page. For more information on the 2014 St. Croix Food and Wine Experience visit

Youth Advisory Council Logo & Slogan Contest

Youth Advisory Council Logo and Slogan FlyerContest Registration FormPress Release

Contact: Leslie Hamdorf

YAC Team Leader, St. Croix Foundation

January 22, 2013



The St. Croix Foundation Youth Advisory Council (YAC) wishes to invite all youth 20 years old and younger to submit a logo and/or a slogan for their developing web-based mentoring project. The submissions should reflect the following themes: matching youth with personal mentors, connecting youth globally, and exposing youth to resources for career development. The slogans must use five words or less, incorporate the themes above, and be PG rated. The logos must also be the original work of the youth submitting the design, be 8” X 10” in size and fit on a letter sized paper, and a shade of blue must be the predominant color.

Contestants can drop their original work off with their registration form at the St. Croix Foundation or email their work and registration form to All schools have already been provided with registration forms which can also be found on the St. Croix Foundation’s website at The winners will be decided by December 31, 2012 and will be presented with a new iPad for their winning design.
YAC was created in 2009 as a local youth philanthropy group focused on identifying resources to meet the needs of youth in our community. They have successfully awarded grants to local youth focused programs and hosted a Youth Forum that provided youth a space to explore their talents, discuss their challenges and move beyond perceived limitations. Most recently, YAC polled over 900 middle and high school students on the island in their Answers for Change Survey. The results from the survey were the catalyst for this developing project. Currently, YAC is made up of 16 student members from middle and high schools on the island. For more information on the contest or YAC please email YAC at


Believe…Together We Can Make A Difference

Press Release

Contact: Roger Dewey: President, Deanna James: Chief Operations Officer



The St. Croix Foundation (SCF) is inviting the community to come out and celebrate their 22 years of leadership and service to the Virgin Islands Community on Thursday, September 27 in Sunday Market Square in downtown Christiansted. The Foundation’s Birthday celebration is from 5 PM to 8 PM, and will be held in conjunction with the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours networking get together.

This event heralds the official launch of the Foundation’s BELIEVE Campaign which seeks to inspire the entire Virgin Islands to “BELIEVE in our community” and to pull together through these challenging times. Roger Dewey, President of the Foundation, stated that “Despite the unprecedented economic upheaval facing the Territory, the St. Croix Foundation believes in the strength of our community. We believe in the future of St. Croix and the Virgin Islands.”

The BELIEVE Campaign is modeled after a highly successful movement launched 10 years ago in Baltimore Maryland, which sought to tackle the issue of drug violence by “awakening Baltimore’s truer sense of self — to tap the fire inside — and to call upon the power of that spirit to confront the violence of drugs and drug addiction that was killing 300 to 350 young men every year,” according to a Baltimore newspaper article.

The St. Croix Foundation’s BELIEVE Campaign, like Baltimore’s campaign, seeks to address many of the critical issues affecting our community by developing diverse partnerships and spearheading targeted initiatives that support a healthier community. For this campaign, the Foundation will be directing specific focus toward strategic programmatic areas such as community revitalization, public education reform and public safety.

Since the announcement of HOVENSA’s closure at the beginning of the year, the Foundation has hosted economic roundtables to hear from business owners and community stakeholders to assist in identifying solutions that move us forward. Building upon the feedback received from those roundtables, the Foundation’s BELIEVE Campaign aims to initiate several highly visible beautification projects beginning with Contentment Road, the entrance into Christiansted town. The Foundation is also urging businesses, residents and neighborhood associations to join them in their efforts by partnering together and to promote clean, safe neighborhoods.

Deanna James, the Foundation’s Chief Operations Officer explained that, “Our BELIEVE Campaign is about taking adversity and turning it into opportunity. It’s about believing in the inherent capacity of the human spirit to triumph over seemingly insurmountable challenges.” Today and into the future, the Foundation, through their BELIEVE Campaign, will be reaching out and working extensively with community partners to strengthen our islands’ economic and social structures.

The Foundation’s 22nd Birthday celebration, on the 27th in Sunday Market Square, is really a thank you to the entire Virgin Islands Community for all the ways that all of our partners have contributed and shown how they BELIEVE in the organization’s mission and vision for the Territory.

The Foundation would also like to thank the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, the VI Police Department, Chef Ashley Williams who will prepare hors d’oeuvers, and Kiki and the Flaming Gypsies, Ballet Folklorico Dominicano, and the Pearl B. Larsen Quadrille Group for providing entertainment.

For more information on the St. Croix Foundation’s BELIEVE Campaign or their birthday celebration, please contact the St. Croix Foundation at 340-773-9898.



“Answers for Change” Survey Results

Results at a GlanceFull ResultsPress Release

Contact:Leslie Hamdorf
YAC Team Leader, St. Croix Foundation


The St. Croix Foundation Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is pleased to release the results of their revealing youth survey, entitled “Answers for Change.” The survey was developed entirely by YAC members to gain information from their peers about the challenges facing youth in their community.

The 44 question survey addresses issues surrounding school climate, school safety, future academic plans, and personal motivators, and was distributed to private and public schools on St. Croix. In total, over 900 surveys were tallied during the spring of 2012.
The Youth Advisory Council, which was created by the St. Croix Foundation in 2009, is a youth philanthropy group made up of 16 students from St. Croix private and public middle and high schools. The Council was founded with the express goals of engaging youth and teaching them about the importance of philanthropy and charitable giving, as well as civic awareness. Today, YAC serves as a platform for burgeoning youth leaders to assess and address the needs of their peers through various outreach initiatives.
YAC members believe that the results from their survey will serve to illuminate the needs, aspirations, and challenges of young people in the community. The results will also help the Council and the Foundation direct their future efforts toward more relevant supports for young people and for their schools.

While the overall results from the survey were very informative, some responses were particularly revealing. One question asked students whether school was valuable to them. 59% of students in public high school responded that yes, school was valuable to them, compared to 93% of private high school students.

In another question which addressed the issue of school safety, 80% of private high school students said they felt safe compared to 41% of their public school peers. However, when private high school students were asked how they dealt with stress, the responses indicated that 13% drank, 22% smoked, and 21% used drugs, in contrast to public high school students who responded with lower levels of drug, alcohol and tobacco use. Public middle school students also reported in the ‘Answers for Change’ survey that 12% considered dropping out of school.
Overall, the survey revealed that there are some incredible opportunities within our public middle schools to sustain what appears to be higher levels of student engagement while at the same time addressing some potentially serious social trends that may lead students to lose focus and in turn fall out of the system in high school.

YAC members believe that the entire survey should be of interest to parents and educators alike. According to YAC member, Chasen Richards, “In high school, priorities get confused and life starts to happen. In high school, students are also exposed to more- both at school and in the media. Additionally, there is a bigger age range at high school, and kids are exploring things and rebelling if they can. They also don’t have the same support or the focus anymore.”

After reviewing the questions about support, YAC member Kemit Sweeney said, “Students lack a connection between their daily lives and the theoretical knowledge from school. When they don’t find it, they drop off the radar.” YAC members believe that their survey has given youth on St. Croix a voice and through collaborative efforts from community stakeholders, targeted steps can be taken to prevent youth from dropping off the radar and out of the system.

Over the past three years, the Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council has been very busy. In addition to the survey, they have awarded grants to various youth-based community projects and earlier this year, they hosted a highly successful Youth Forum, entitled “Turning Problems into Possibilities.”

Moving forward, YAC members will be using the data collected from their survey to develop a Youth Network, which will entail a resource clearinghouse for youth providing career development, as well as mentoring and social supports. They have already begun to reach out to other youth groups in the Territory inviting them to join forces to prove that youth have the ability to mobilize for positive causes to make a positive difference in their community. YAC members wish to extend their heart-felt thanks to the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority for their assistance in tallying the surveys. The Council is also grateful to Mr. Boatang of The University of the Virgin Islands Extension Services for allowing them to meet regularly in their building. Additional thanks go out to Mr. Gary Molloy and Ms. Janine Schuster of the Virgin Islands Department of Education for providing the Department’s support for the survey. The Youth Advisory Council also expresses their thanks to the St. Croix Foundation Matt Miller Fund and the Miller family for their ongoing support and guidance.

Last but certainly not least, YAC extends a sincere thank you to all of the students who participated in the survey from the following schools: St. Croix Educational Complex, St. Croix Central High School, John H. Woodson Junior High School, Elena L. Christian Junior High School, St. Mary’s Catholic School, Free Will Baptist School, Arthur Richards Elementary School, Country Day School, and Good Hope School. Student responses are greatly appreciated and will remain as a guiding factor in the projects that YAC undertakes this year.
Survey results can be found on the St. Croix Foundation’s website at And, for more information about the Council email YAC at or contact the St. Croix Foundation at 340-773-9898.


SCF Youth Advisory Council Students Respond to “Answers for Change” Survey Results

SCF Youth Advisory Council Students Respond to “Answers for Change” Survey Results

“The St. Croix Foundation Youth Advisory Council is grateful for the articles that were published in The Daily News on Monday, September 17, 2012 and The St. Croix Avis on Thursday, September 20 about the results of our Answers for Change Survey…” for full press release on Answers for Change.

SCF Coordinating VI Delegation for Education Reform Conference in New York

 Grantmakers for Education, Press Release

Contact: Deanna James, Chief Operations Officer
August 9, 2012


The St. Croix Foundation is currently coordinating a small delegation of local education stakeholders to attend the 2012 Annual Grantmakers for Education (GFE) Conference entitled, “Rethink, Reframe, Redesign Education” in New York City, October 23-26th.

Considered by many to be one of the most dynamic and informative forums on transformational educational models, GFE is a ‘membership organization for private and public philanthropies that support improved educational outcomes for students’. Founded in 1995, GFE seeks to ‘promote dialogue, inquiry and learning to strengthen practice within the field of education philanthropy’. Each year, their annual conference convenes representatives from the largest educational funders in the country including the Bill and Melinda Gates, Nellie Mae, Cleveland and Annie E. Casey Foundations to share experiences; to assess which reform models are working (and which ones aren’t); and to refine strategies.
As a GFE member for the past four years, St. Croix Foundation made the decision to coordinate a VI delegation to the conference this year, with the express goal of building capacity and consensus among local stakeholders around which reform models are right for our community.
Recognizing the critical nature of the challenges before the Territory today, the Foundation’s ultimate goal is to hasten the pace of education reform in order to ensure that the Virgin Islands is adequately preparing our youth to navigate through the tenuous economic conditions before them- both locally and globally.

Increasingly inspired by the body of work that is presented each year at the annual conference, the Foundation hopes this year’s conference will expose local stakeholders to progressive educational strategies that are transforming public schools throughout the country.

With many of GFE’s members currently underwriting the lion’s share of funding costs for some of the most innovative and successful school reform models today, the featured sessions and site visits are always a major highlight of the conference each year. This year’s conference is expected to be particularly exciting because it’s being held in New York City and will feature site visits to several bold educational models, including the nationally renowned Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ). Recognized by The New York Times as “one of the most ambitious social-service experiments of our time,” HCZ is a comprehensive system of programs over a 100 block radius in Central Harlem that aims to keep children on track from the cradle to college and on to the job market.

Another site visit that will be offered at the GFE Conference is the New American Academy (NAA), which was created in partnership with the United Federation of Teachers, the New York Department of Education, and The Harvard Graduate School of Education. NAA represents a visionary approach to education wherein ‘teachers work in collaborative teams of four to lead a typical classroom of 60 students in small, differentiated groups. The academy currently serves students in kindergarten and first grade.’
While only a handful of slots have been allotted for the St. Croix Foundation’s delegation, invitations have already been extended to members of the Board of Education, the Department of Education, the CTEC Board and the St. Croix Federation of Teachers as well as several other key education stakeholders.

According to Deanna James, Chief Operations Officer of the Foundation, “We are deeply encouraged by the response we’ve received thus far from stakeholders as most of the slots for our very small delegation have already been filled.” James went on to state that “The Foundation truly believes that the GFE conference has the potential to bridge philosophical and political divides that have prevented our community from making real headway in our attempts to improve our educational system.”
As the Foundation seeks to strengthen their community-based work in education, they believe the GFE conference presents a ripe opportunity for deeper engagement and for greater collaboration among all educational stakeholders irrespective of their individual focus areas. The Foundation also sees the conference as a way to segue from individual agendas and pervasive distrust to real cooperation and synergy.
Invited guests will be responsible for covering their conference costs, and because the conference is a ‘members only’ industry event, guests will have to be registered through the Foundation’s membership account.

For more information on the GFE Conference or on the Foundation’s educational programming, please call the St. Croix Foundation at 340-773-9898.