Lyford Cay Foundation

July 2016 Member Spotlight: Lyford Cay Foundation


Elevator Speech: Launched in 1969, Lyford Cay Foundation is a philanthropic organization focused on supporting low-income, first generation, K-12 students on their paths to and through college. The Foundation began as a charity distributing small grants to non-profits in The Bahamas in the 1970s and ventured into providing scholarships for Bahamian students in the 1980s. Over the last decade, seeing the need to better prepare first generation, public school students for college, the Foundation designed and launched its own college access programming. The Foundation’s core belief is that increasing educational attainment across the country is key to the development of a prosperous, healthy, and peaceful Bahamas. Lyford Cay Foundation currently runs four major programs: FOCUS, Cutillas Scholars, Scholarships, and Grants programs.

NPEA Member Type: Organizational Member
Interviewees: Felicity Humblestone (Programme Director, FOCUS) and V. Amanda Marray (Director, Development & Communications)
Contact Information:, (242) 362-4910 ext. 105
Location(s): Based out of Nassau, with programming throughout The Bahamas.
Year Founded: 1969
Staffing: 7 FTE, 30 part-time staff members, and more than 20 volunteer staff.
Students Served: Currently, the Lyford Cay Foundation serves more than 300 K-16 students annually through a combination of its FOCUS, Cutillas Scholars, and Scholarship programs.
“About Us”: About Us, History, Milestones, Staff, FOCUS, Cutillas Scholars, Scholarships
Get Involved: Volunteer, Donate, Contact Us, Join Mailing List
Main Website:
Social Media: Facebook


Click on the links below to learn more, or scroll down to read the full interview.

Q: Please provide a brief overview of your organization, Lyford Cay Foundation, as well as some background about the state of education currently in The Bahamas.
A: The Bahamas is a coral-based archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean located southeast of Florida and northeast of Cuba, which is comprised of 700 islands and cays that range from uninhabited to resort-packed. This nation became an independent Commonwealth in 1973, and maintains strong bilateral relationships with the United States and the United Kingdom. The Bahamas has a current population of approximately 360,000 people.

Today, the Bahamas’ Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MoEST) is responsible for more than 50,000 K-12 students in approximately 170 educational institutions, which are dispersed over 14 districts in the major islands. MoEST’s current goal is to increase the graduation rate from 50% to 80% by 2030. Many educational access issues in The Bahamas stem from a lack of resources and limited exposure to opportunities related to geographic isolation. For example, an institution of higher education—The College of The Bahamas—was not established there until 1974, and only began offering bachelor’s degrees as recently as 1995.

Lyford Cay Foundation is focused on helping Bahamians attain access to education. The Foundation is actually two organizations—Lyford Cay Foundation, Inc. and The Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation—separated only for tax purposes. The Foundation has deep roots in the Lyford Cay community in Nassau (the country’s capitol). The Foundation’s core belief is that increasing educational attainment across the country is key to the development of a prosperous, healthy, and peaceful Bahamas. Lyford Cay Foundation currently runs four major programs that are designed to support low-income, first generation students on their paths to and through college: FOCUS, Cutillas Scholars, Scholarships, and Grants programs.

FOCUS is an out-of-school time enrichment program aimed at preparing motivated primary school students to become college graduates. A cohort of 36 students in 4th grade are recruited annually from primary schools in Nassau’s Northwest district, and these students participate in eight years of academic enrichment programming to and through their high school graduation. This programming includes tutoring, courses, field trips, guest speakers, and more, which are provided through afterschool, weekend, and summer sessions. Cutillas Scholars is a broader campaign to bring educational access information and resources to public high school students on all the islands of The Bahamas, which we do primarily through a combination of school visits, online communications, social media, and television marketing. Lastly, the Scholarships program offers partial awards to qualified Bahamian high-school graduates for post-secondary study internationally. On average, 40 new scholarships are awarded annually for international study with 100 students on awards each year. We also provide an annual grant to The College of The Bahamas that equates to approximately 100 need-based awards for full-time students. Back to top.

Q: Please share a little more about the history of the Lyford Cay Foundation. What significant events and/or people have shaped the mission and goals of your organization?
A: Lyford Cay Foundation has a long history. We began in the 1970s as a charity distributing grants to non-profits in The Bahamas. Our focus has always been on providing support where it is needed the most, so by the 1980s we ventured into providing scholarships for Bahamian students. Over the last decade we’ve transitioned to focusing on supporting low-income, first generation K-12 students on their paths to and through college, and we maintain our commitment to community building by supporting non-profits who offer access to a variety of learning opportunities.

To give greater detail, Lyford Cay is a private gated community located on the western tip of New Providence Island in The Bahamas. Considered one of the wealthiest and most exclusive neighborhoods in the world, the Lyford Cay Club was built during the latter part of the 1950s by prominent Canadian businessman Edward Plunkett Taylor. In 1969, two members of the Lyford Cay Club, Robert Blum and William Robbins, formed a non-profit public charity with tax-exempt status under U.S. law. Its purpose was to create an effective vehicle for the distribution of philanthropic gifts to non-profits within The Bahamas. In 1979, the name of the organization was changed to Lyford Cay Foundation, Inc., which was related to its Canadian arm—The Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation—being established in 1977.

In 1982, the Foundation made a small but successful entry into offering scholarships to Bahamians pursuing post-secondary degrees abroad. At the time, The College of The Bahamas only offered associate degrees. With the help of then Board Director, Royal Little, the former chairman of Textron Corporation, and Leland and LaRita Boren, funds were raised for undergraduate and graduate studies. Over time, the value of our scholarships has increased, and now stands at $15,000, ranging up to $25,000.

In 1996, the Foundation began a $5 million, five-year endowment effort to support Bahamians wishing to study at The College of The Bahamas (COB). So far, the Foundation has provided more than $2 million to deserving students enrolled at COB. The Harry C. Moore Library, located on COB’s campus, is also named in honour of a past Chairman of the Foundation.

More recently, our FOCUS program (see above) was launched in 2011, and Cutillas Scholars began its campaign in late 2015. We remain extremely grateful for the financial contributions of our supporters, and the efforts of our Board of Directors, who have made all of these achievements possible. Back to top.

Q: Speaking of growth, please share what plans the Lyford Cay Foundation has for its future. What next steps and goals are you focused on?
We developed our most recent strategic plan three years ago. It is grounded in our vision and mission, and guides our organization. Our vision is that every Bahamian is empowered to reach his or her full potential, and our mission is to invest in learning opportunities for Bahamian children, families, young adults, and communities who will benefit from them the most.

Our strategic plan also outlines specific goals, including the revision of our scholarships screening and selection criteria, increasing the value of our scholarship awards, and building on the recent launch of our Cutillas Scholars program. It is through this strategic planning process that we came to focus more closely on first generation students. We have also found it to be an effective tool to clearly communicate our mission and programming to donors and prospective donors. Back to top.

Q: NPEA is committed to creating a culture of data with and for its members through NPEA Data Counts. In what ways does the Lyford Cay Foundation currently use data to inform decisions and programming?
A: In FOCUS, we track student retention, attendance, grades in school, national exam results, grade level assessment testing in summer (pre- and post-assessments), and student family demographic information. Cutillas Scholars only launched recently, but we track baseline participant college knowledge and awareness. Our Scholarship program tracks the number of scholarships awarded as well as demographic information about the recipients, annual progress reports, and post-graduation follow-up. Currently, we use a combination of Naviance, Salesforce for MicroEdge, Constant Contact, SurveyMonkey, Excel, and AutoSkills to collect, maintain, and analyze all of this data. Back to top.

Q: With regard to partnerships and collaborations, how has the Lyford Cay Foundation developed partnerships with other schools, college access programs, organizations, universities, and others to further the organization’s work?
A: We have strong partnerships with The College of The Bahamas (COB), Department of Education, the Bahamas’ Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), and other Bahamian education organizations through our grants programming. COB has been an incredible partner by providing us with in-kind donations of classroom and facility space for FOCUS programming, partnering to provide their college students with teaching assistant opportunities in our programs, and assisting with our data collection and analysis. The Department of Education and MoEST have also been great sources of support and information, including providing us with an office space in one of our partner K-12 schools and participating in our Scholarships selection process.

Please email if you are interested in learning more about becoming a community or school partner. Back to top.

Q: What, if any, professional development resources has your organization found to be helpful that you might encourage other NPEA members to consider? Why?
A: We have worked with expert consultants from Columbia University, the Lyford Cay International School, and The College of The Bahamas to help us with strategic planning, development, and/or curriculum development. We have also participated in NPEA, NSPA, NSLA, NCAN, and AFP conferences in order to learn more about fundraising, summer learning, scholarship provision, and education access. We also presented a position paper at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2015 in Malta, which was an incredible opportunity. Back to top.

Q: How has your organization benefited from membership in NPEA?
A: We first learned about NPEA through a connection with The Steppingstone Foundation, a few years after we launched FOCUS. We were searching for best practices in educational access, and all signs pointed us to NPEA. The most significant benefits for our organization include the research and resources shared in the Newsletters and Digests, the NPEA Data Counts initiative, and the ability to connect directly with other members. In fact, fellow NPEA member Breakthrough Miami was incredibly helpful in providing advice and frameworks as we set up the pilot year of FOCUS. We are excited for all that NPEA continues to offer us. Back to top.