Jalawelo’s Young Adult Circle (YAC) program provides personalized and holistic support to at-risk young adults. This is accomplished through onsite and online access to academic and life skills training, engagement in income generating opportunities, volunteerism, and occasions for healthy social interactions. The program is delivered within a technology-driven, peer-to-peer, faith-based learning context. Each Circle consists of about 12 young adults ages 18 – 29 years old who reside in the same community.
Young adults from Jamaica’s high-risk communities can thrive if given love and individualized support along with a clear path to attaining reasonable and realistic goals. This premise provides the foundation for the approach taken by Jamaica Land We Love (Jalawelo), a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit organization that was formed in 2011 to support community development in Jamaica.
Our Mission Statement
Motivated by our love for God and for others, we engage in collaborative partnerships to provide economic, social, and spiritual help to communities across Jamaica.
We accomplish our mission by engaging in the following activities:
1. Designing and testing new program models to serve individuals living in high-risk communities;
2. Promoting the development of small social enterprises that provide training and income-generating opportunities;
3. Undertaking special relationship-building projects, and
4. Providing capacity building support to organizations that work to improve the welfare of the people of Jamaica.
Young Adult Circles
We have noticed that delivering programs en masse to at-risk youth has the potential to ultimately create a sense of hopelessness as the programs often do not provide the long-term help they need. We have seen what we call “program fatigue” as youth engage repeatedly in various externally initiated and funded programs without seeing any change take place in their lives.
Jamaica’s youth who have had limited access to a quality education, inadequate social and economic support, and significantly less than ideal home and community environments are particularly at risk and oftentimes join gangs or engage in other harmful behaviors to achieve a sense of identity and belonging. Jamaica’s youth are the future of the nation and we believe that we must begin to engage them in new and exciting ways so we can have a positive and long-term impact on their lives.
Jalawelo has invested significant time and effort in conceptualizing and developing a framework for engaging Jamaica’s vulnerable young adults utilizing what we have dubbed an IEDP which is our Individualized Educational and Development Plan™. Among other things, the IEDP provides a customized approach to meeting the unique academic training, personal development, and income generation needs and goals of each YAC member. We are excited about the potential we have seen in our Young Adult Circle which is structured as a peer-to-peer learning community, and Jalawelo will remain an agile learning organization as we constantly refine our programs. An important part of the YAC initiative is the engagement of our youth in freely available online educational opportunities with the support of local and diaspora mentors and community-based leaders. One of our past enthusiastic and committed YAC members, Leroy (see photo to right), completed his IEDP, received ongoing support for his dream, followed through with HEART training and now works as a commis chef at the Pegasus, one of Jamaica’s premier hotels in Kingston.
We take advantage of readily available technology-based resources as we work with our youth in all aspects of our engagement with them. We believe that this comprehensive and forward-thinking approach will go a long way in preparing our young adults to participate in a 21st century global economy and in helping them overcome many of the challenges they face due to poverty, community crime, unemployment, lack of access to basic services, and deficiencies in education, to name a few. We have very high expectations of our youth as we pair them with mentors and encourage them to work hard and set high standards for themselves.
Our Social Engagement Model
We reject the traditional paradigm that delivers services and support to communities solely from the outside or without authentic input from community members. We take the time to develop trusting relationships with our community-based partners, and we work with them to identify and develop the special initiatives and opportunities that will help their communities thrive.
Our five-factor social engagement model begins with faithful community leaders and residents who understand that meaningful and sustainable change must be led from within the community.
Our Current Need
In order to provide the full range of services to youth in our Young Adult Circles using Jalawelo’s holistic approach, we need to raise additional funds to provide ongoing support for this initiative. Specifically, we are seeking to raise the funds to cover the direct costs related to the program. We will need to provide technology-based resources to give our youth access to academic and personal development online learning tools and global income generating opportunities. Young adults will also be provided with a stipend as they meet certain milestones in the program. Local and diaspora volunteers will supply much of the required human capital, but these volunteers will be supported by one or more community-based leaders who will help to manage and coordinate the delivery of services and other support to the youth in our YAC program. A small stipend will also be provided to these leaders to cover any incidental expenses they incur as they support our youth.
As a community development organization, Jalawelo will also engage in capacity building initiatives (for example, leadership and other types of organizational training and support). We are pursuing healthy intra- and cross-sector partnerships with the goal of delivering a broader range of services and solutions to strengthen our communities. We believe our people will be best served as we collaborate to realize a vision for Jamaica that no single organization can accomplish.
How You Can Help
Because Jamaica Land We Love is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, donations made by US taxpayers to Jalawelo are tax deductible. You can make either a one-time gift or schedule a recurring donation to Jalawelo by credit card by clicking on the Donate button in the upper right of the website to make your gift.
Alternatively, you can make a donation by mailing a check payable to Jamaica Land We Love at the following address:
Jamaica Land We Love
1571 Sumneytown Pike
Lansdale, PA 19446