On June 10th 2017, just before daylight – a peaceful Saturday morning, our Founder Melanie Wynter conceptualized an endearing idea which would further lead to the development of what is now the “Jamaica Rural Youth Foundation” or more familiarly, “JRYF”. Melanie had the vision to create a Jamaica where our rural youth would no longer feel under-represented, thus squashing the very popular but yet unspoken cultural ideal, that there are no opportunities within the rural community. She imagined a service-driven organization that would play an essential role in the delivery of quality service to our rural communities, the youth in particular. Allowing them to share in our mission to promote social and economic change through empowerment and acceptance of the community by the wider Jamaican society.
Ms. Wynter, in harmony with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Vision 2030, conceptualized Jamaica Rural Youth Foundation with the key aim of transforming the lives of rural youth by reducing poverty, creating decent work and economic growth through capacity building to move them up the value chain, creating sustainable communities. Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.
Potential is equally distributed across class and social status, but in Jamaica today, opportunity is not. JRYF is bridging the gap between opportunity and rural youths. Each youth has an equal opportunity to learn, grow, influence, and lead.
Across the island, rural youth lack the exposure, support, and opportunity they need to properly develop and to thrive. And when hundreds of thousands of youth aren’t exposed to sufficient opportunities, it affects us all—perpetuating poverty, dividing our society, weakening our economy.
No single solution will bring equitable and adequate opportunities for every youth. Although we look to the government to help people overcome obstacles like inadequate opportunities and poverty, the Jamaican society did not develop for today’s complex societal issues. But people helped to form society, and so people can reimagine and rebuild it to enable rural youth to reach their full potential.
What will that take? It will take sustained leadership and youth development challenging the status quo from inside and outside rural communities. It will take a broad and diverse coalition – mentors, advocates, entrepreneurs, policymakers, volunteers – fighting for the aspirations of rural youth and their families by being proactive.
JRYF is part of a global network of notable people and organizations dedicated to youth and community development to ensure all rural youth can fulfil their potential. We provide a platform to connect and learn from network partners around the world.
Through capacity building, our mentors and leaders form relationships with the youth. Their impact with each young person deepens their conviction and allows them to develop a richer understanding of what rural youth need to properly develop and thrive.
At the same time, JRYF leaders better understand the barriers that limit access to opportunity and the unique assets and challenges in their communities. They grow the skills and mindsets necessary to effect change, we instil these same values within the rural youth we encounter.
We share stories of progress, triumphs, and setbacks. We recognize outstanding advocates, entrepreneurs, youth leaders, and volunteers. We connect rural youth to career opportunities, each other and our network. We don’t just spark conversations on accelerating the pace of change in rural communities, we begin the process.
To provide unlimited economic opportunities for rural youth ages 6 – 29.
To ignite the spark within rural youth and children ages 6 – 29, enabling economic drivers and leaders of Jamaica.