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HomeNewsLocal newsPrior Family Foundation Donates Quarter Million to My Brother's Workshop

Prior Family Foundation Donates Quarter Million to My Brother’s Workshop

Artist’s conception of the planned new campus for My Brother’s Workshop on St. Thomas.

The Prior Family Foundation, a St. Thomas-based non-profit, has donated $250,000 to the My Brothers Workshop Main Campus Project.

In a news release issued Tuesday, the foundation said, “As longtime supporters of MBW, the Prior Family Foundation sees the value in investing in this project and in the Virgin Islands youth.”

The Prior Family Foundation was established by a grant from Cornelius B. Prior Jr. in 2007.

Trustee Trudie Prior said, “As longtime residents of this community, my husband and I recognized a need to provide young people the opportunity to learn a skill or trade that would be a pathway to success in life. My Brothers Workshop is filling that need.”

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On Aug. 9 My Brother’s Workshop, the non-profit organization that provides mentoring, counseling, paid job-training and education to Virgin Islands, announced plans to build a new campus on Donoe Bypass o St. Thomas.

As of Tuesday, $1.7 million, or 44 percent, of the funds needed for phase one of the project have been raised from private donations and sponsorships: Anonymous Donors, Prior Family Foundation, Bonnie and Ty Troutman, Robert and Maureen Sievers Family Charitable Gift Fund, Anne and Andy Hemmert, Columba Energy, Secret Harbour Beach Resorts Association, Lana Vento Charitable Trust, Hulsman Family Fund, Keswick Guaranty, Inc., Charity Girls, Jeffrey and Kelly Neevel, I. Levin Properties, Picayo Family, Richard and Joyce Doumeng, Judith Martino, Attorney George Marshall Miller, Steven and Karen Jamron and Dan Lynch,. The Stephenson Family, who are long time supporters of MBW, have pledged to match $1M in donations made towards Phase 1.

“On behalf of MBW, a huge thank you to these first donors who have propelled this project,” said Jenny Hawkes, executive director of the organization. “We look forward to the groundbreaking, where we can celebrate.”

According to the news release, all sponsors who commit to the project by Oct. 15 will be invited to and recognized at the groundbreaking ceremony, which is expected to take place in November.

Those interested can donate online at the campaign website.

More information on the project, program or sponsorship opportunities are available by calling My Brother’s Workshop Communications Director, Chrystie Payne at cpayne@mybrothersworkshop.org.

The project will be completed in phases, beginning with Phase 1 – the construction of the Stephenson Family Welcome Center (Banquet Space, Café, Industrial Kitchen, Classrooms, Offices). This building will house the following programs: Culinary Arts, Catering Services, Customer Service Training, Online High School, Anger Management, Offices and Welcome Center, Classrooms, Individual Counseling, NEW: Retail Experience, Family Counseling and Parenting Classes/Child Care Services.

The Stephenson Family, long-time supporters of My Brother’s Workshop, have pledged to match $1 million in donations made through June 23.

The following phases will include construction of the new MBW Workshop and MBW Community Center. The project is expected to take 3-4 years to complete. MBW’s Main Campus will be comprised of three structures, eventually allowing for more than 1,000 people per year to receive vocational training, mentoring, mental health counseling, tutoring, online high school diplomas, job placement services, anger management, parenting classes, and access to art, music, and sports.

The organization’s current St. Thomas footprint spans three locations and totals about 15,000 square feet. By increasing and consolidating the space, the space, My Brother’s Workshop will be able to become energy efficient, with solar panels, offer more effective training, provide mental health resources (including family counseling and individual counseling), classrooms for high school diplomas and continuing education, youth development, special needs training, free services to the USVI community, resiliency and sustainability programs and increased disaster response capacity.

MBW has had a long lasting impact on the members of our community through disaster response and workforce development. The increase in space will allow for MBW to respond quickly (and on a larger scale) to disasters as we did after the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and through the hardships of COVID-19 while keeping our youth engaged in our program. With the additional programs, MBW will have the ability to work with older populations in workforce development for individuals needing to change career paths after life altering events and also be able to work with clients who have special needs or disabilities to help obtain employment.

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