Caribbean youths being selected for YFE internship

YFE Back To School event at the Office of the Prime Minister (2019). Front row: Students from Cockburn Gardens Primary School. Back row (left to right): Founder, Jénine Shepherd, then Minister of Science, Energy and Technology and current Honorary Advisor on Education to Youths For Excellence, Fayval Williams, MP and then CEO of the Digicel Foundation, Karlene Dawson.
Youths For Excellence

A selection process, which began on March 5, will qualify nine exceptional students from high schools and universities across the Caribbean for internship, and a rare opportunity to lead regional change on behalf of Youths For Excellence (YFE).

The students will work alongside the executive board of Youths For Excellence (YFE), the advisory board and board of directors that comprises current and former ministers of government across several nations heads of multinational corporations, founders of foundations and renowned policy researchers.

Board Chair and President of (YFE), Jénine Shepherd, who founded the Jamaica-based organization in 2015, a registered charity for the holistic development of underserved youth, and who recently launched the internship, told Caribbean Life that the program gives students an immersive experience in the world of policy advocacy and non-profit governance.

The application was opened to all Caribbean nationals and was accessible on the charity’s website:

Applicants were asked to submit a resume or curriculum vitae, and asked to answer supplementary questions about their motivations for the program.

The majority of the work by YFE will be conducted remotely, in line with recommendations from the WHO and Caribbean governments, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. More information is available at

Shepherd, a student of Amherst College, who has hosted top leaders on Zoom conferences to educate the Jamaican diaspora about COVID-19, said she recognized the effects of social and economic deprivation on young children as they prepare for and sit their exit exams.

“These results can shape the life prospects of children for years to come, and the playing field is not level. Children in inner-city communities face barriers in so many aspects: a whole systems approach is necessary for their education and upliftment,” said Shepherd.

YFE Founder, Jénine Shepherd, extreme right, and volunteers pose with Principal of Cockburn Gardens Primary School, Ms. Patricia Findley in 2015.  Youths for Excellence

Since its inception, YFE has championed a holistic method of educational intervention. The organization has assisted children to receive textbooks, tablets, health checkups, bus pass, grocery vouchers and resources for their parents, to facilitate employment.

Shepherd, who was selected as leader of the 2020 YOUNGA UN Forum, received recognition from the Office of the Prime Minister via a Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in the category of Nation Building in 2018, for her exceptional work with Jamaican youth.

An inaugural Back to School drive was staged in 2019 at the Prime Minister’s Office Youths for Excellence that included guest speaker, then Minister of Science and Technology for Jamaica and current Honorary Advisor on Education to Youths For Excellence, Fayval Williams, MP.

“It was important to show the children from Cockburn Pen that they can be welcomed by the government to the most important offices in our country and that the private sector and their fellow citizens will support and sponsor their development,” said Shepherd.

Named Ambassador of “I Believe” Initiative by the Governor General of Jamaica, Shepherd noted that the work of YFE has not gone unnoticed by those outside of public office, leaders from the world of business and education, all have lent their support to the launch of the organization.

YFE boasts an impressive lineup of 24 corporate and government sponsors, Digicel, JUTC, GraceKennedy and Seprod amongst them.

Thara Johnson-Reid, director of Communications for YFE said, “As a diaspora with strong ties to Jamaica, I’m excited to see the impact our interventions will make. This internship gives local students access to a group of luminaries across sectors, and helps to bridge the gaps in their experience as they enter tertiary education and the workforce.”

Shepherd incorporated YFE that serves inner-city youth, taking their exit exams in grades four to six on June 16, 2015 out of a need to bridge the gaps in education caused by societal inequities.

More from Around NYC