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Jun 4, 2018

HRCU Provides Grants to Deserving Youngsters

As any parent will tell you, it’s never too early to start thinking about back to school even with the current school year in its final weeks. Costs of education have regularly risen and Belizeans are increasingly turning to loans and other sources to pay for their children’s education. In the case of Holy Redeemer Credit Union Limited, an initiative started thirteen years ago helps alleviate some of that financial burden. It is known as the Henry Charles Usher Educational Grant Programme, named for a co-founder of the credit union, and News Five’s team of Aaron Humes and Rick Romero got up early on Saturday morning to catch it in action. Here’s their report.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

From as early as four a.m., Belizeans from across the nation were up to trek to the offices of Holy Redeemer Credit Union Limited. There was money to be had for most who applied in the service of education: three hundred for primary school students, four hundred for secondary schoolers and five hundred for tertiary level institutions. It is all part of the Henry Charles “Eagles” Usher Grant Fund Programme now managed by the credit union for the past thirteen years.

 

Fred Smith

Fred Smith, President, Holy Redeemer Credit Union Limited

“It is the people’s money that we are using to issue these scholarships, and so we monitor them; we make sure that once they are given a scholarship, we do follow up, to make sure that this will be a successful individual.”

 

But first you must apply, having been a member of H.R.C.U. for at least one year; demonstrated financial need, good grades and other prerequisites. Between the credit union’s two branches in Belize City and Independence, Stann Creek District, more than thirteen hundred forms were handed out to both first-time and return applicants and some students themselves. They each told us how they and their young ones would benefit.

 

Fitzroy Alvarez

Fitzroy Alvarez, Applying for Education Grant

“My two children – one will be going to Sixth Form and the other will be going into Second Form.”

 

Aaron Humes

“Have you applied for this before?”

 

Fitzroy Alvarez

“No, this is my first time.”

 

Aaron Humes

“So you will be hoping to get some funds. But if you didn’t have this programme available how would you be able to fund your kids’ education?”

 

Fitzroy Alvarez

“I would have to do that out of my salary, so I think this is a good, very, very good program that the Credit Union is doing.”

 

Vincia Blanco

Vincia Blanco, Applying for Education Grant

“I’ve applied for it for four years now.”

 

Aaron Humes

“So you’ve been successful…”

 

 

Vincia Blanco

“Yeah, every year I get it from them.”

 

 

Aaron Humes

“So who are you applying on behalf of today?”

 

Vincia Blanco

“My daughter. She’s attending Sixth Form right now so I’m applying for her. She got it last year for Pallotti and this year she’s going to S.J.C., so I’m applying for her now.  It put towards the school fees; so you don’t have to find all the money for those school fees. Part of it goes to the school fees and I just pay the balance.”

 

Natasha Beaton

Aaron Humes

“Who are you here applying on behalf of?”

 

Natasha Beaton, Applying for Education Grant

“My daughter, Akeelah Harvey.”

 

Aaron Humes

“What class is she in?”

 

Natasha Beaton

“Standard Four, going into Standard Five.”

 

Aaron Humes

“How many times have you applied before?”

 

Natasha Beaton

“This da my third time.”

 

Aaron Humes

“And you’ve been successful before?”

 

Natasha Beaton

“Yes. When I apply I usually get it and it help me with buy my daughter school things and so, so it’s a great thing that the Credit Union dih do.”

 

Martin Lopez

Martin Lopez, Applying for Education Grant

“It helps my mom and thing like that, I like it and my mom too.”

 

Aaron Humes

“Do you know what they use the money for?”

 

Martin Lopez

“Yes, for helping me for books and thing like that.”

 

Aaron Humes

“So you’re doing well in school, getting good grades and so?”

 

Martin Lopez

“Yes, sir.”

 

It’s all in a day’s work for the credit union’s chief financial officer Clement Usher and member of the Credit Committee and Chief Education Officer Dr. Carol Babb.

 

Clement Usher

Clement Usher, Chief Financial Officer, Holy Redeemer Credit Union Limited

“The program got started when we celebrated our sixtieth anniversary back in 2004. The first grants were actually given out in 2005 and back then it was very small; we were giving out sixty thousand dollars and maybe fifty or sixty grants; now we have morphed into where we are giving out over four hundred thousand [dollars] and almost nine hundred grants each year.”

 

Carol Babb, Member, Credit Committee, Holy Redeemer Credit Union Limited

“The criteria has changed a little bit; we are now giving educational grants to children who are member-owners themselves. So once your child is a member-owner of the credit union, then your child is entitled to one of the educational grants.”

 

Carol Babb

Aaron Humes

“Meaning they would have to come in and apply themselves?”

 

Carol Babb

“Yes. That’s what we are doing today; so parents can come on behalf of their children, or the children can come in themselves, get an application and fill in the application, and they will be awarded the grant as long as they are a member-owner.  The Credit Union, we are investing in the membership; the young people; they are the present and they are the future. We have to ensure that there is a succession plan, so we have to ensure that our young people are equipped with the knowledge, the skills and the right attitude to lead this credit union, so we find it very important that we invest in education, which is indeed the key to all opportunities.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

The deadline to submit applications is June fifteenth, no exceptions, and the lucky recipients get their grants in early July. Grants are approved for one academic year but may be renewed on an annual basis per the criteria listed in the story. Only one grant per family is awarded except as determined by the Credit Union’s Grant Committee if not all grants are applied for or approved in a particular category.

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