NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), a leader in global payment services, announced the expansion of its educational programme for Caribbean-born or second generation of Caribbean Americans* residing in the United States by pledging of US$50,000 in educational scholarships and extending the programme from nine to 19 Caribbean countries.
The commitment was announced Monday as Western Union and GraceKennedy Limited kicked off their third annual town hall meeting series at the Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. Staged under the theme “Caribbean Diaspora - Borderless Possibilities,” and featuring as keynote speaker, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable P.J. Patterson, the New York town hall was the first in a series of three town hall stops. The meeting series is intended to connect the Caribbean diasporas in the United States and Canada with their home countries, while providing them with an opportunity to actively discuss issues relating to the diaspora and its advancement. Two other events are part of the series, one held at the CBC Atrium in Toronto on May 6 and the other at the Miramar Cultural Centre in Miramar, Florida on May 8.
During the event ― which brought together hundreds of members of the Caribbean community― Western Union and GraceKennedy explained the details of their educational programmes for diaspora youth: the ‘Pride of the Caribbean’ and the ‘GraceKennedy Birthright’ Programmes.
“As Caribbean families pursue the ‛American dream,’ the sheer cost of education continues to be a barrier, especially for those who are unable to meet the criteria for federal loans. As an expression of gratitude for the continued support of our Caribbean customers, a number of Western Union Agents throughout the Caribbean, as well as Walgreens and Pay-O-Matic here in the U.S., have donated to The Western Union Foundation Gift Match Program in support of the Pride of the Caribbean Programme. Our goal is to elevate our outstanding future leaders as members of the Caribbean community,” said Sean Mason, Regional Vice President & General Manager, Western Union Caribbean.
In announcing an additional and very important element, Mason said, “We want to support the academic endeavours of Caribbean youth no matter where they choose to seek a higher education. We are pleased to announce that this year we’ll also award scholarships to Caribbean students who attend the University of the West Indies.”
“If you or someone you know qualifies for the 2015 Pride of the Caribbean Scholarship Programme, we encourage them to visit www.PrideoftheCaribbean.com to review eligibility requirements and apply directly until June 3,” Mason said.
Don Wehby, Group Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy Limited, announced that the GraceKennedy Birthright Programme was being reinstated. The programme offers professional and cultural internships to second and third generation Diaspora students. “The programme was a huge success for us, and as we continue to grow globally, we want to keep our focus on the development of young people, not only those who live in Jamaica, but those around the world who are of Jamaican heritage,” he said.
Michelle Allen, Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy Money Services, expressed satisfaction with the event which attracted hundreds of attendees. “We wanted to engage a wide cross section of persons in this very important and timely dialogue. The turnout and level of engagement this evening is indicative of the interest that the Diaspora has in the development of their home countries and we are happy and proud that we were able to facilitate this exchange. We look forward to having this discussion with the Diaspora in Toronto, Canada and Miramar, Florida.”
In speaking to the entire town hall series, Mr. Wehby said, “We are pleased with the overall success of the events, as they give us a chance to connect directly with members of the Caribbean Diaspora. They are critical to GK’s growth and we value them and their input very dearly.”
The Western Union Company and GraceKennedy Town Hall forum, which has been initiated in 2012, provides a platform for vital dialogue on topics relevant to the Caribbean Diaspora such as Youth, Education and the Economy. The series also focuses on the importance of education, urging parents to expose their children to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), as well as emphasizing the importance of mastering the English language as a key factor to success.
* Applicant or Applicant’s parents’ country of origin must be one of the following nineteen countries: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad and Turks & Caicos Islands
About Western Union
The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of March 31, 2015, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of over 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories and over 100,000 ATMs and kiosks. In 2014, The Western Union Company completed 255 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $85 billion of principal between consumers, and 484 million business payments. For more information, visit www.westernunion.com.
About the Western Union Foundation
The Western Union Foundation is dedicated to creating a better world, where the ability to realize dreams through economic opportunity is not just a privilege for the few but a right for all. Through its signature program, Education for Better, and with the support of The Western Union Company, its employees, Agents, and business partners, The Western Union Foundation works to realize this vision by supporting education and disaster relief efforts as pathways toward a better future. Our combined social ventures efforts make life better for individuals, families and communities around the world. Since its inception, The Western Union Foundation has paid more than $101.1 million in grants and other giving. These funds have been pledged to more than 2,739 nongovernmental organizations in more than 135 countries and territories. The Western Union Foundation is a separate §501(c)(3) recognized United States charity. To learn more, visit www.westernunionfoundation.org, or Follow us on Twitter @TheWUFoundation.
About GraceKennedy Money Services
GraceKennedy Money Services (GKMS) is the umbrella entity which encompasses FX Trader - The Foreign Exchange Place from GraceKennedy Money Services, Bill Express - The Bill Payment Place from GraceKennedy Money Services and Western Union - Moving Money for Better. Some or all of these services may be found in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, The BVI and Montserrat.
GraceKennedy is one of the Caribbean's largest and most dynamic corporate entities. The company started in Jamaica in 1922 as a small trading establishment and wharf operators. It has expanded and diversified over the years, changing from a privately-owned enterprise to a public company with Food and Finance Divisions, listed on the stock exchanges of Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago. Today, the Group comprises a varied network of some 50 subsidiaries and associated companies located across the Caribbean, North and Central America, the United Kingdom and Europe and Africa. GraceKennedy’s operations span the areas of food processing and distribution, banking and finance, insurance and remittance services, together with an investment in building materials retailing.