For many Bahamians, the Lyford Cay Foundations has been and continues to be the place they can turn to “knock and have the door of opportunity opened” to them. As the Foundations came together to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a service of thanksgiving, Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder said the Bahamian public was grateful to those people that had the vision to initiate the Foundations and the people whose energy, commitment and sacrifice perpetuate the Foundations and the work they continue to do in and for Bahamians.
“The work of organizations such as the Lyford Cay Foundations can and does lead to that admirable aspect of any community – namely, the flourishing of the human spirit,” said Pinder during their recent service at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral. “Fifty years of philanthropy in a culture not famous for its philanthropic spirit is a remarkable achievement and an excellent example and a much-needed example. Your example of private commitment to the public good is a standard of leadership and it is pacesetting. Fifty years in a nation not yet itself 50 is a cause for celebration and for giving thanks. Fifty years of philanthropic activity in a culture not particularly known for its philanthropy is simply remarkable.”
To date, over the course of its 50 years, the Foundations which comprise 3,000 donors has seen $80 million donated with $50 million disbursed – $23 million through the Lyford Cay Foundation and $16 million through the Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation – the two organizations which comprise the Lyford Cay Foundations.
Foundations’ programs include FOCUS (Forward, Onward to College, Upward to Success), an out-of-school time enrichment program aimed at college readiness and access for students of demonstrated potential and need – 240 students are supported for eight years of summer and Saturday programming; Cutillas Scholars, college preparation and full scholarships for public school students to attend either the University of The Bahamas (UB) or the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI); Scholarships, partial awards to qualified Bahamian high school graduates for post-secondary study internationally and nationally; and Grants, small grants to Bahamian non-profits who are dedicated to the transformative power of life-long learning.
The programs have seen more than 3,000 Bahamian students benefit from post-secondary scholarships to attend international institutions as well as UB.
The archbishop reminded worshippers at the service of the golden rule – do to others whatever you would have them do to you. And of the importance of the work of the Foundations, which he said has a deep and lasting impact not only on the individual, but on a whole network of social relationships of which Foundations recipients are a part.
He singled out the FOCUS program and the Cutillas Scholarship which he said aim to ensure that individuals become the first generation in their family to achieve post-secondary education.
“It is particularly noteworthy that both these programs target students in public schools. The future of our nation passes through our schools. The greatest part of that future passes through our public schools. The quality of information and the range of opportunity afforded students in public schools certainly will make a significant difference in what our citizenry will look like in the future, so we must be thankful for the FOCUS program and the Cutillas Scholarship. But these are not all that the Foundations provide – there are many other scholarships and grants provided by the Lyford Cay Foundations to individuals and organizations certainly stated by deeds more than words that this investment in the lives of Bahamians is making an impact on the development of The Bahamas for generations to come.”
He said the Lyford Cay Foundations are an excellent example of what is referred to in the Catholic social tradition as a voluntary private association; and in their contemporary secular terms, part of civil society.
Basil Goulandris, Lyford Cay Foundation, Inc. chairman, said the Foundations believes that a better Bahamas for all starts with a strategic investment in education. But that they also believe that government despite its leadership, commitment and resources, cannot undertake the responsibility alone. He said that philanthropic investment in education is a crucial component of the long-term development of a prosperous, safe and healthy Bahamas.
“Lyford Cay Foundations is a philanthropic organization. We serve the country, and demonstrate our love for The Bahamas through philanthropy, a word meaning love for mankind. We choose to demonstrate this love by supporting education opportunities for Bahamians who can benefit the most.”
Goulandris said the work of the Foundations over the past 50 years would not have been possible without their board members, donors and partners.
“We are grateful to the nearly 3,000 donors who over 50 years have made a profound difference in the lives of Bahamians. All have played a part in uplifting the lives of the beneficiaries and we know our donors share great pride in what you have achieved. While there is much work to be done – with continued donor support and generosity, we are confident we can accomplish even more over the next 50 years,” he said.
Goulandris said they were fortunate to support some of the best and brightest in the nation as they work to shape The Bahamas in small and large ways for the betterment of all.
Tim Unwin, president, The Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation, reminded people that the Lyford Cay Foundations are in fact one organization, but two distinct legal entities.
The U.S. Foundation at 50 years old was originally the American Friends of The Bahamas. The Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation was established 10 years after that and they’ve been working together ever since.
“We help with educational opportunities for our most deserving students, and on behalf of all these Foundations, it is a privilege and honor for us to do this,” said Unwin.
While Lyford Cay Foundations is most known for its scholarships, it is also responsible for two other initiatives, including community grants and college access programming.
Community grants was the Foundations’ inaugural program in the early ‘70s. They have supported some 250 community organizations throughout the country. The newest program is in college access.
Both Goulandris and Unwin spoke to the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Dorian on Abaco and Grand Bahama and of the response by the Foundations’ donors. Unwin spoke to the organization’s mobilization of their donor base and response with a combined relief recovery fund that exceeded $2.5 million.
“While tremendously saddened by the events, we are extremely grateful for our donors who stepped up immediately,” said Unwin.
He also noted that they were providing financial assistance grants to students from Grand Bahama and Abaco who are enrolled in colleges and universities internationally and whose family support had been diminished as a result of the hurricane.
“We were anxious that their studies be continued and completed with this assistance,” he said.
The service of thanksgiving was the first of its kind for the foundation.