The Aron & Christina Foundation (Registered Charity No. 777) was started by us (Aron and Christina Truss) in 2009. Its’ purpose is to promote and facilitate children’s education at the primary and secondary levels in Barbados as we believe that this will be the best means of ensuring our social, economic and political stability in the future. One of the reasons that we decided to start our Foundation is because most charities waste between 40% and 70% of the money they receive from donations on administration expenses. Government likely wastes a similar percentage of the taxes it collects as well. We suspect that there are many like us who really don’t donate or contribute in taxes what they would be prepared to if they felt that their donation and/or taxes would really make a difference.
Therefore, in addition to donating our funds and our time we decided that we would personally cover all administration expenses of our Foundation so that 100% of any donation would be spent on furthering the Foundation’s objective. We hoped that this would encourage people to support it and so far the response has been very positive even though we have only done a little bit of private fund raising. As we are a Registered Charity, donations are also fully tax deductable.
Our Foundations’ first initiative was the purchase of XO laptops from the One Lap Top Per Child Project for placing in primary schools in Barbados. Between the academic years 2009/10 and 2012/13 we provided 200 XO laptops to children in Classes 2 and 3 at four Government Primary Schools. This was done as a loan project rather than a gift project so several hundred children would have used the XO laptops for a year or two during those years. We try to target schools in rural areas which have not fully benefited from the Governments’ Edutech Program and where children may not have use of a computer at home. The schools are chosen following discussions with the parliamentary representatives for the areas.
For the academic year 2013/2014 we purchased 250 XO tablets instead of the laptops and changed from a loan project to a gift project and added four more Government Primary Schools to our project.
For the academic year 2014/2015 we purchased 450 Samsung Galaxy tablets which were gifted to Class 3 students at twelve Government Primary Schools and since then we have gifted 600 Samsung Galaxy tablets to Class 3 students at fourteen Government Primary Schools every academic year.
We have selected students in Class 3 as we feel that they are old enough to handle the responsibility of taking care of the tablet and will have it to assist them with the 2 years of preparations for the Common Entrance Exam. We encourage the teachers to use the tablets as a teaching tool and incorporate their use into the curriculum and we provide one extra tablet per Class so that teachers will also have a tablet in the classroom to assist them with their teaching.
Once we add a school to our project we return at the start of each academic year to present tablets to the new Class 3 students. To help with this long term commitment to schools, we now try to find a sponsor for a school or schools to pay for the tablets for that school or schools. Therefore, not only will donors know exactly what their donation has purchased, they will know the school and the children that have benefitted. Our key sponsors include Andy Stewart, Keith Morris, Nic Williamson, Ryan Pannell and Matt Crotty. The advantage for us is that we can then focus on new donations to add new schools and more children to our tablet project.
We have also embarked on several projects at Harrison College, including providing 160 new desks for first form, 50 specialized computers for teaching coding and programming, started a guest speaker program in which world business leaders speak to and interact with senior students and are about to open a new multi media room for smart lessons and video conferencing with guest teachers.