Philipsburg- The Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR) program held the official launch of Round-5 projects on Thursday March 1 at the St Maarten Senior Citizen Recreational Center in Hope Estate. The R4CR program includes a grant scheme as funding mechanism for community and social rehabilitation initiatives on Sint Maarten and focuses on improving the capacity of local CSOs in reconstruction and resilience activities post hurricane Irma.
In his opening remarks to the grant recipients R4CR Team Leader Steve Duzanson stated: “This is the most in terms of funds and amount of projects that R4CR will disburse in a single round of financing to date”. He reflected on the journey the grant recipient civil society organizations (CSOs) had taken to receive a grant. The process started in October 2022 with general information sessions about the R4CR program which were followed by the official call for proposals in November with a submission deadline of December 9 2022. The total available budget for the 5 th round of financing (Round-5) was US$1.2 million (max $90,000 per project or $120,000 for collaborative projects). R4CR received 28 project proposals requesting a total of US$2.1 million. The oversubscription is a testament to the needs of the local CSOs and non-profit organizations (NPOs).
The project proposals were subjected to an intensive assessment process that included administrative, technical and financial reviews and a sixteen-point scoring grid. Projects with an overall score of 76% or higher were selected for financing and forwarded to the Project Technical Committee (PTC) for final approval.
“The selected projects are expected to contribute to the social reconstruction and resilience of St. Maarten in a big way” explained Duzanson. “These are public funds that you will receive for project execution and you have the responsibility and obligation to use them in a respectful manner that will benefit your stakeholders and the entire community” he reminded the grant recipients.
The R4CR team also thanked the St Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) for collaborating to reach more CSOs with the grant scheme through their network of CSOs and NPOs. Angela Richards, representing the R4CR Project Technical Committee, congratulated the CSOs with their grants. Ms. Richards was especially happy to finally see some of the faces behind the projects as the PTC only reviews the project dossiers and liaises with other stakeholders in the background. “Be proud to show your achievements to everyone and let the people see the good and important work that the CSO community is doing” Richards advised the grant recipients.
After the speeches each grant recipient was given 1 minute to “pitch” their R4CR Round-5 project:
The Sea Rescue Foundation kicked off the pitches by explaining their project of refurbishing their second vessel “ Rescue 2 (Chief)”, making it operational and ensuring that both Rescue-1 and Rescue-2 are ready for rescue activities when needed. The Sint Maarten Yacht Club continued the pitches by describing the “Sailability” project of bringing sailing to persons with a disability; they will collaborate with the Sister Basilia Center (among others). The AIDS Foundation was next explaining their project of providing testing and counseling to uninsured HIV patients. Hearts United Holistic Care Foundation gave a synopsis of their Adult Literacy Program and the impact it has on persons with literacy issues. Helping Hands Foundation was happy to announce the refurbishing of their old wheelchair bus to safely transport elderly and mobility impaired persons. This project will also help them to secure a transportation contract with SZV. The Animal Welfare Foundation is excited about their project to spay and neuter 1,000 animals on the island and in doing so help solve the stray animal problem. The Bishop Ellis Foundation on the other hand will help provide food supplies to the most-needy. Home Away from Home project is focused on providing activities for seniors to increase their quality of life in the “Golden Years”. St Maarten Paws explained that they operate the only animal shelter on the island and will be refurbishing the shelter to provide better care for the stray dogs. In their one-minute pitch Cricket St. Maarten elaborated on the damages suffered during hurricane Irma, the need to get new equipment and restarting the cricket programs for both boys and girls. “Imagine you lost the ability to prepare your favorite food”; the therapy kitchen project by the Mental Health Foundation is geared toward helping their clients rehabilitate by preparing food.
The National Institute of Arts will immerse children in the “Total Theatre” concept by exposing them to different art forms and using art to help them in their personal development. Tackling youth unemployment is the central theme of SHTA’s project. In preparation for the upcoming SMILE event they will train, coach and match unemployed youth with potential employers in an effort to reduce youth unemployment. The St Maarten Youth Council has taken on the challenge to upgrade their facilities at the St Peters Community Center where they cater to over 300 persons per week. Fun’N Learn daycare has secured funds to upgrade their facilities and provide a better learning environment to the children in their care. The only public swimming pool on the island at Raoul Illidge Sports Complex will get an upgrade whereby the pool deck and the pool liner will be replaced to make the pool safer to use and reduce water losses through leakage. This project will be executed by the National Sports Institute (NSI. Closing off the one-minute pitches was Voice of the Youth Foundation who will use their grant to purchase a bus to solve their logistical problems of transporting vulnerable youth to/from numerous activities and coaching sessions.
After the one-minute pitches and some surprise activities designed to bring the organizations closer together, the CSOs participated in the Pre-Disbursement Training which all R4CR grant recipients must complete before any funds can be disbursed to their projects. The training gives the grant recipients clear insight into the rules and regulations of the grant scheme, such as reporting requirements, financial management, training, capacity strengthening, requesting advances, stakeholder communication and the social and environmental standards applicable to the R4CR program.
The R4CR program is financed by the Government of the Netherlands via the Sint Maarten Trust Fund. The Trust Fund is administered by the World Bank and monitored by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB). The R4CR program is being implemented by VNGI.
Project activities by locally registered CSOs that are eligible for funding can cover subject areas such as neighborhood initiatives, sports, nature/environment, culture, poverty relief, day care centers/after school programs, youth employment, skills development, psycho-social support or preventing gender-based violence.