St. Croix Foundation Hosts Inaugural KIDS COUNT USVI Summit With Key Child Welfare Stakeholders

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, May 2, 2024 – St. Croix Foundation for Community Development’s (SCF) KIDS COUNT USVI Team hosted its first KIDS COUNT USVI Summit April 16-17, 2024, on St. Croix at The Grange Event Center near Anna’s Hope

Entitled Answering the Call: We are the System and the Solution, the event was held in partnership with the Office of the Governor and convened a carefully curated cohort of key stakeholders from the public, private, and civic sectors who directly impact KIDS COUNT USVI.  Despite the dismal trends reported in the 2023 KIDS COUNT USVI Data Book, the Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Team believes that the size of the Territory, and even our status, may represent untapped opportunities to do things differently: to make radical and rapid strides in the area of child well-being.

The ultimate goal of the Summit was to fulfill the KIDS COUNT USVI Team’s pledge to activate the data published in the annual Data Book by creating a safe space for key stakeholders to cultivate relationships across sectors and, in turn, co-create new, cohesive systems of support for our Territory’s children.

KIDS COUNT USVI TEAM: Left to right: Deanna James, President of St. Croix Foundation; Laurence Blake, Data Researcher and Designer; Dr. Saul Santiago, Principal Data Analyst; Lilli Cox, Dir. Communications & Community Investments, SCF; Dr. Anna Wheatley Scarbriel, Special Projects and Production Lead, and Chermaine Hobson, Sector Liaison

The Summit was facilitated by internationally renowned systems change expert and founder of The Outside, Tuesday Rivera, who has led numerous communities through the deliberative and collaborative process of co-designing new ways of “doing” and “being,” which lead to radical systems change.  A session was also led by Dr. Ulcca Joshi Hansen, formerly of Grantmakers for Education and author of The Future of Smart, who offered a compelling perspective on the American educational system, calling for a human-centered approach that is adaptive to children’s needs and assets as social beings and is less linear and mechanistic than traditional methods.

Some notable highlights from the two-day convening included an early morning serenade from the youth choir of the St. Croix Seventh Day Adventist School as well as a powerful video presentation entitled “Sankofa,” which is an African word that translates to ‘go back and fetch it.’ The video offered a reflective snapshot of the story of the Territory’s children from the Pre-colonial Period to the Present, highlighting the evolution of the Territory’s enslaved population from the 18th Century. As outlined in “Slave Demography of the Danish West Indian Islands” by Hans Christian Johansen, St. Croix’s enslaved population in the early 1800s topped out at 27,006 relative to significantly lower numbers on St. Thomas and St. John at 5,737 and 2,492, respectively (The Scandinavian History Review Incorporating Economy and History, v.29:1, 1981.) Another compelling data point from the past included the fact that in Earle B. Ottley’s, Trials and Triumphs, The Long Road to a Middle Class Society in the U.S. Virgin Islands, from 1903 to 1915, up to three-quarters of children born in the Virgin Islands died, indicating how much progress the U.S. Virgin Islands has made over time.

According to St. Croix Foundation President, Deanna James, “There are really no words to articulate how both transformational and inspirational the Summit was. Over the course of the Foundation’s 33 years of service, we have hosted a significant number of gatherings. But this meeting was different. In fact, we made a bold decision to frame the summit as a Village Council Meeting, with guests representing not just executives, lawmakers, and leaders, but also Griots, Elders, and Allies – all armed with a multitude of tools, deep wisdom, and hopefully, the will to solve the complex social problems confronting our Children… together!”

From start to finish, the Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Team sought to demonstrate to Summit participants that change doesn’t have to be legislated by policy. In truth, communities can spur radical systems change through a single collective decision – made by just a few – to change their behavior. The Summit also highlighted the issue of Spirituality as a critical component of child well-being with an inspirational “Grounding Ceremony” from Tahirah AbuBakr, a member of the St. Croix Council of Elders who challenged attendees to remember the central role that Elders have played in ancestral societies relative to transferring wisdom, spirituality, and historical cultural values to youth.

The KIDS COUNT USVI Data Researcher and Designer, Laurence Blake, remarked “The summit ignited hope and purpose within our team. Witnessing stakeholders unite to address child well-being challenges was inspiring. Facilitators like Tuesday Rivera and Dr. Ulcca Joshi Hansen showcased new pathways for change. The event fostered collaboration and innovation, empowering us to transcend boundaries and prioritize children’s welfare.”

From the beginning of their stewardship of KIDS COUNT in the USVI, St. Croix Foundation committed to moving beyond rote data collection. The 2024 KIDS COUNT USVI Summit intentionally made space for the collaboration necessary for systems change. Linda Stamper-Keularts, Director of Advancement at Good Hope Country Day School, spoke on the outcomes of the Summit, stating, “Attending the KIDS COUNT Summit was an enlightening experience that truly underscored the importance of collaborative action in tackling the multifaceted challenges faced by our youth.  The Summit brought together a diverse range of nonprofit organizations and GVI agencies from various sectors, fostering rich discussions, new relationships, and innovative solutions to address issues confronting our youth. Good Hope Country Day School is feeling empowered and motivated to continue to advocate for the well-being of our youth.”

In her framing remarks at the start of the Summit, Foundation CEO James outlined what she hoped attendees would walk away from the gathering having learned: THAT EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING! She closed by stating, “What the Foundation has come to learn, is that Change, real sustained Change, isn’t often an outgrowth of a comprehensive, well-framed strategic plan or policy agenda, but in some ways (in fact, in many ways), it’s electrified, very simply, by People fused in courageously cultivated Relationships committed to solving big problems – not alone, not siloed, not solo, but together! Cultivating those relationships is the real challenge and an important, often undervalued, under-prioritized factor in systems change.”

An electronic copy of the 2023 KIDS COUNT USVI Data Book is available at

St. Croix Foundation for Community Development would like to thank the Office of the Governor and Policy Advisor on Workforce Development and Education, Sana Joseph Smith, The Grange Event Center owners and staff, caterers Common Sense and A Matter of Taste, as well as contributors to the Summit’s “Sankofa” Video Presentation, Dr. Lucy Jackson, Neejay Canton, and Dejalys Delgado. St. Croix Foundation also extends its sincere appreciation to local private sector supporters, including Tropical Shipping, DIAM Management, Seven Seas Water Group, Global Asset Management, and TEAM Consultants, along with all other sponsors of the Foundation’s Annual Fundraiser, which supports all of the Foundation’s year-round programming, including KIDS COUNT USVI.

For more information about KIDS COUNT USVI or any resources at the 2024 KIDS COUNT Summit, please visit Questions about KIDS COUNT USVI should be directed to President Deanna James of St. Croix Foundation at 340.773.9898 or