In 1969, two members of the Lyford Cay Club, Robert Blum and William Robbins, formed ‘The American Friends of The Bahamas’, a non-profit public charity with tax-exempt status under the US Internal Revenue code. Its purpose was to create an effective vehicle for the distribution of philanthropic gifts within The Bahamas. In 1979, the name of the organisation was changed to Lyford Cay Foundation, Inc.
The Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation, a Canadian non-profit charity, was established in 1977.
In its early years, the Foundations provided small grants to organisations in need in the country, its first was to the Crippled Children’s Foundation, now the Physically Challenged Children’s Committee. The grants programme remains in existence today.
In 1982, the Foundations made a small but successful entry into offering post-secondary scholarships to Bahamians studying abroad. Soon thereafter, Royal Little, the former chairman of Textron Corporation and a member of our Board of Directors, put forward a challenge grant of $100,000. It called for the provision of 80 undergraduate scholarships, valued at $2,500 each, for a total commitment of $200,000. The matching funds were in hand within two years.
In 1988, the Little and Boren families offered up a second challenge grant, for $200,000, with the aim of funding 12 graduate scholarships worth $2,500 each. This challenge too was accepted, met, and quickly exceeded. Over time the value of our scholarships has increased, and now stands at $15,000. The Foundations’ also offer technical and vocational, and graduate awards.
In 1996, Foundations began a $5 million, five-year endowment effort to support Bahamians wishing to study locally at University of The Bahamas (UB).
In evaluating its impact, the Board of Directors realised that while the majority of high school graduates are from public schools, the majority of Lyford Cay Foundations’ scholarship recipients were from private schools.
FOCUS, launched in 2011, is a tuition-free college access and preparation programme for public school students in the north-west school district of New Providence. Students begin the programme in grade 4 and continue through to high school graduation.
Cutillas Scholars, launched in 2016, seeks to increase the enrolment in post-secondary education throughout the country. It recruits students in grade 11 nationwide and after completion of a series of career and college readiness assignments, six Scholars are chosen who will attend national institutions, either University of The Bahamas or The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute.
Through its work, the Foundations invest in the lives of Bahamians to make a lasting impact on the development of The Bahamas for generations to come.
We remain extremely grateful for the generosity of our donor family, and the efforts of our beneficiaries, volunteers, community partners and team, who have made all of these achievements possible. To date, close to $50 million has been invested in the lives of Bahamians.