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The importance of giving a child from a volatile community a fair chance at being a success story has in part led to electricity supplier Jamaica Energy Partners (JEP) awarding dozens of scholarships each year to needy students and their parents.

The 12th edition of the must-have publication promises to be special. It will be chock-full of the usual scholarships and more offered by Jamaican companies, educational institutions, the Ministry of Education as well as private individuals in Jamaica and the diaspora. It will be available on May 1.

When asked why they keep coming back each year, McKenzie said: "This particular publication ( Scholarships To Go) is one where we recognise the readership and reach of The Gleaner. We are aware of the recognition that The Gleaner gets and as a result, we want to ensure that our scholarships that are offered will be seen by most, if not all who are interested."

McKenzie said his companies also involve the Ministry of Education’s Region Six and Region One, their social media sites and website in promoting the scholarships. However, he stressed that the reach of The Gleaner presents the best way to point potential scholarship recipients to the company. "That’s why we continue to partner with The Gleaner in this programme," McKenzie stressed.

JEP and WKPP provide 20 GSAT scholarships each year. "In order to keep it gender-neutral, we have 10 boys and 10 girls," McKenzie explained. He revealed that scholarships offered at that level are not based entirely on the students’ grades. As a matter of fact, according to McKenzie, "We don’t look for grades. We recognise that some students (in volatile communities) will find it harder to matriculate the curriculum that GSAT had." Even so, the CEO was quick to point out that "our scholarship recipients from west Kingston last year matriculated into some of the top traditional high schools." He said the face of education is changing, with students "hunkering down and doing really well".

"We get approximately 30 to 40 applicants for five to 10 spaces. And all these kids, all of them barring none, have grades ranging from one to two. We are talking about kids with grades like eight ones, nine ones, 10 ones … ," McKenzie emphasised.

He labelled as a travesty a situation where a youngster is unable to pursue higher-level study because of a lack of resources. "I really believe a lot of the money in corporate Jamaica should be invested in our kids if we really want to move this country forward," he expressed.

On a more personal level, McKenzie said the workforce of the companies under his direction have been transformed through education. He is imploring the rest of corporate Jamaica to step up to the plate to recognise the communities in which they operate and see how best they can improve the livelihood of these communities.

In the case of JEP and WKPP, McKenzie explained that in order to benefit, scholarship recipients must reside within an eight mile radius of the plant. Community representatives are often part of the consultation process before a selection is made.

He said: "Parents hunger for the opportunity. I’ve had parents coming to me, and although their kids have not matriculated, they do need the support and will literally give anything to ensure that their children can stay in school, that they are provided with the proper material to stay in school."

"This just goes to show how much money we have spent on the kids. The good thing about it is that some of our scholarship recipients are now lawyers, some are doctors, and some are teachers, and so forth. They have given back not only to the country, but to JEP. We have health fairs, and a number of the volunteers for our health fairs are doctors who passed through JEP’s scholarship programme."