Diageo USVI, the Virgin Islands’ newest rum distiller, has announced its joint sponsorship of the “Learning for Life™” program, which will provide 30 students with full scholarships for technical hospitality education and life skills training. The program, designed to meet the needs of the hotel, restaurant and tourism sectors of the USVI, is the first of its kind in the territory. The program is being offered through the University of the Virgin Islands Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning Center (UVI CELL) and is being co-sponsored by Bellows International Distributing and the Virgin Islands Department of Labor.
The program has already achieved success across Latin America and the Caribbean, where it has graduated 17,000 students over the past 12 months. It consists of classroom-based technical course instruction related to bartending and culinary industries, and includes a general life skills curriculum, guiding students through their own personal development and interpersonal skills improvement.
“Globally, Diageo is committed to improving the circumstances of others in the markets in which we operate, and we believe that all roads to community improvement start with education,” said Dan Kirby, vice president of operations, Diageo USVI. “We are proud to be sponsoring Learning for Life™ in the USVI and are thrilled to be able to provide education and training to Virgin Islanders, who deserve educational opportunities that will help them succeed in life.”
Students enrolled in the 12-week bartending and culinary programs will receive 220 hours of instruction on basic skills required to work in the hospitality industry. Through a partnership with the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association, students will be mentored by professionals and participate in internships with local hotels and restaurants.
Diageo USVI has also made arrangements with the V.I. Department of Labor to provide at-need participants with stipends for transportation, food and childcare. The technical bartending training will be financed and managed by Bellows International Distributing, which is the largest beverage distributor in the USVI. Bellows has recently partnered with Diageo to implement many community-based programs, such as “Safe Rides,” through which over 400 Virgin Islanders have received a designated drive home. Chef A.W. DÖÖS III, EDK, instructor of culinary arts at the St. Croix Career and Technical Educational Center located at the St. Croix Educational Complex, will administer the culinary technical curriculum. Upon graduation, students will receive a certificate from the UVICELL Center, which will be providing the life skills training.
Scheduled to begin in September 2010, Learning for Life™ in the USVI is envisioned as a long-term, sustainable program and will continue into 2012. To qualify, applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 27, have at least a ninth-grade education, and be unemployed or work displaced. Prospective students can obtain an application by calling 693-1100, 713-8520 ext. 105 or by visiting the UVI CELL Web site at http://cell.uvi.edu. All applications must be submitted no later than Aug. 25, 2010.
About Diageo USVI
In June 2008, Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. and Diageo USVI jointly announced a public-private initiative for the construction and operation of a high capacity rum distillery on St. Croix. This 30-year commitment will provide a major economic stimulus for the entire territory. Once in operation, the distillery will have the capacity to distill up to 20 million proof gallons of Captain Morgan rum per year and is expected to generate an estimated $130 million in new tax revenue for the V.I. government. Construction of the facility, located on Melvin Evans Highway, began in August 2009, and it is on schedule to become operational by January 2011.