Help Empower Our Nation (HEON Project) celebrates 6 years as a non-profit organisation that provides students with tuition and other assistance despite Covid-19 challenges.
The HEON Project President Janella Edwards said, “The Project has been affected by this pandemic, but education is still a priority. I had never imagined that in just 6 years, we would have achieved all that we did as an organisation.”
The Project’s inception began in 2014 when Edwards represented Grenada at the “My World, My SIDS” (Small Island Developing States) Youth Consultation on Sustainable Development in Jamaica. She, along with 18 other delegates within the regions, was tasked with identifying key areas for sustainable development. Edwards then decided on youth empowerment through education. “The idea of assisting tertiary students with their tuition resonated with me as I recall attending college and being the recipient of support from a community resident,” she states.
With the help of a few colleagues and friends the HEON Project was officially launched on 10 January 2015 with 3 students receiving tuition scholarships. However, as the years passed and other stakeholders within corporate Grenada and generous citizens in the diaspora joined the movement, the team saw the need to offer more than tuition fees. Edwards said, “We recognised that we could do so much more as a project to not only provide full tuition scholarships, but also assist recipients with their transition into college and provide additional mentorship.” This led to the rebranding of the HEON abbreviation meaning from “Help Educate our Nation” to “Help Empower our Nation.”
The dedication of the once small member team, now 21, has earned international recognition from the Queen’s Young Leader’s Programme in the United Kingdom and the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) in the United States.
However, no number of accolades could have prepared the HEON team for the effects of the pandemic. The Project’s main fundraising event – a gala, was cancelled, while some of its annual sponsors were not able to make their yearly contributions to the HEON Project Scholarship Fund. Yet, the team persisted. Edwards said, “We were not able to raise any money this year through our gala, but this pandemic encouraged my team and to think outside of the box.”
As the saying goes, with much effort is much reward. Fortunately for Edwards and her team, some stakeholders increased their sponsorship and the project also collaborated with the Ann Alexander Memorial Scholarship and Go Blue Inc. to provide specific scholarships to students this year. The support from the diaspora also included a donation of 2 laptops to assist recipients with accessing their online classes.
To date, the Project has provided 47 students with scholarships to attend T A Marryshow Community College. Most of the recipients pursue degrees in Natural Sciences or Technical Studies.
A 2015 HEON Project scholarship recipient Shirwyn Robert said, “The HEON Project encouraged an optimistic outlook for the future and allowed me to steadily carve a path in the world of programming and software development.”
Despite the challenges 2020 brought to the HEON Project, Edwards said “we are grateful for the increase in sponsorship from some partners and anticipate increasing our fundraising efforts in 2021.”
The HEON Project will not hold a physical ceremony to commemorate its 6th anniversary, but anticipates launching its website in 2021. For further information on the HEON Project visit the Facebook or Instagram page or send an email to [email protected].
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