January 2024 Volume 20

FORTIS and Friends Foundation Inc. (F3) Year 1 Review

Dr. Earl Gordon
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Fortis and Friends Foundation Inc. (F3) completed its inaugural year of operation, during which the focus was on implementing the core programs that the newly established group plans to pursue in the years ahead.

The organization’s grand launch, held on the final day of the 2023 Penn Relays, was sponsored and catered by Ocho Rios Jerk N Tings and was a resounding success. Following the launch, the organization's members convened regularly throughout the year to lay the groundwork for critical areas identified to fulfill their goal of fostering nation-building – one student at a time.

In light of the educational landscape in Jamaica, where statistics from The Reform of Education in Jamaica Report (2021) reveal that only 41% of primary school students are proficient in math, 55% in English Language Arts (ELA), and 33% leave primary school unable to read, F3 has taken proactive measures. Recognizing the importance of early childhood education in individual development and future prospects, F3 has established the Primary School Tablet Initiative as one of its core programs.

The tablet initiative, a suite of supplementary learning applications, is designed to help students develop their foundational literacy and numeracy skills. Presently, the organization is in the process of installing tablets in primary schools. During this phase, tablets have been distributed to selected primary schools in Jamaica to evaluate their suitability and feasibility. The organization has also facilitated the introduction and training of principals and teachers at two primary schools in Jamaica and sponsored 10 tablets to a third primary school.

Another core program of the non-profit is the Learning Acceleration Initiative . This initiative carried out in collaboration with the leadership team on the Melbourne campus of Kingston College, is designed to assist students in achieving mastery of grade-level standards. In a strategic partnership with school administrators, F3 invested in the academic development of identified students. This was achieved by covering the costs of academic enrichment programs during the summer of 2023, to enhance the academic performance of these students. By December the students were showing marked improvement.

Recognizing the indispensable role of principals, teachers, and school administrators in any student development initiative, F3's third program focuses on Professional Development (PD) for Educators. Building on previous years’ collaborative efforts, the organization worked with Kingston College administrators to establish their Multiple Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) program and provided PD training on Universal Design for Learning to teachers. Additionally, in partnership with their nonprofit partner, Inclusive Schools Caribbean (ISC), partner-schools will be granted access to ISC’s asynchronous online PD modules, to build teacher capacity and improve student outcomes.

According to the African proverb, "if you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together," F3 recognizes the importance of community, collaboration, and partnership in their journey for nation building. Fueled by the collective efforts of their board, partners, and sponsors, the organization is encouraged by their achievements in 2023 and is looking forward to advancing the mission in 2024.

For further information about their programs and ways to get involved, visit their website www.fortisandfriends.org , email them at info@fortisandfriends.org , and explore their social media platforms.

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