Grace Scholarship Fund is the brainchild of Founder and Executive Director, Rissa Lawrence. A product of Jamaican parents, as a child Rissa and her cousins spent three months every summer in Kingston, Jamaica with her Grandaunt, Grace. Grace would frequently take Rissa to work with her many days. It was there, at Immaculate Conception High School that Rissa gained her strong appreciation of the Jamaican Education system.
In 2014, Rissa formed the Grace Scholarship Fund to help support Jamaican Youth attending colleges and universities on the island. She understood the harsh reality that education is a substantial expense in Jamaica—which is often sacrificed to provide basic necessities such as food and to pay for utilities
Naturally, it was fitting to name the Fund after her grandaunt, who today at 94 years old continues to teach mathematics, biology and English to primary and high school students from her from her front porch (or ‘verandah’ as we say in Jamaica)--even amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic!
What started as a one-woman-show, with Rissa leading at the helm and funding all scholarships out of her pocket, is know an international effort with supporters around the globe. Since inception, the fund has awarded 50 scholarships to students hailing from across the island. Awards have surpassed $4M.
Grace Scholarship Fund is the first of its kind – “Its a vehicle that allows members of the Caribbean diaspora and general public to directly support Jamaican Youth that are in financial need. 100% of donations go directly towards scholarships. I cover all the operating expenses so that money to students is maximized. We accept donations of any size, from $5 and up!”, says Rissa.
Rissa, a corporate strategy professional, graduated from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) with an Engineering Degree and later received her Masters in Business Administration from The Harvard Business School (Cambridge, MA). Rissa is also an adjunct professor at a leading college in the United States.