After eight years, Dart Foundation’s support has brought the renovations of the Catboat Club headquarters close to an end. Hurricane Ivan 2004 destroyed the Harbour Drive building, which is the headquarters for the Maritime Heritage Foundation as well. Dart’s contribution also helped rebuild the club’s fleet of catboats. The donation consisted of a $100,000 cash grant and three-year events sponsorship deal worth $75,000 ($25,000 each year). Local suppliers in the Cayman Islands contributed material and time to the renovations.
Jerris Miller, the Catboat Club president, said the club renovations wouldn’t have been possible without the support from the Dart Foundation and Camana Bay. “While we found great support from the suppliers on the Island in terms of material and time, we needed money to pay for labour in order to pull it all together,” he said.
The new club will be finished with the wattle-and-daub method and is located at the “Careening Place”, the area used to fix and clean the bottom of schooners. The building will have a museum, large workshop, restaurant and clubhouse. It will be used for boatbuilding and youth sailing programs.
The National Trust for the Cayman Islands paid $800,000 for 2.77 acres of land in Little Cayman where many of the island’s endangered rock iguanas and turtles nest. The Robert C. Dart Foundation provided a $312,000 grant, which covered the remaining amount required to purchase the land. Dart Cayman put the trust in touch with the Robert C. Dart Foundation, which is based in Mason, Michigan.
“Funding for the purchase began with the Little Cayman district committee, who established the Little Cayman Land Fund and we thank all those who contributed to the fund in 2011 and 2012, especially Gladys Howard, who worked tirelessly on this project,” said Carla Reid, chairwoman of the National Trust. “Thanks also to Janet Walker who spearheads the trust’s general Land Reserve Fund, and to all those who contributed to it in 2012, who raised over $100,000 towards this purchase.”
The land is located at Preston Bay near Pirates Point Resort and is known as the primary nesting location for Sister Islands rock iguanas; about 40% of nesting activity occurs at Preston Bay.
“We are trying to be proactive to make sure that the Sister Islands’ rock iguanas do not go the same way as the blue iguanas on Grand Cayman did. Ultimately, a captive breeding facility is always a lot more expensive than what we are doing,” Ms Reid said.
Earlier this month, the Dart Foundation provided a $50,000 challenge grant to Highfields, who will match the $50k with funds from other donors. The grant was made in honor of Highfields’ 50th anniversary and is designated for campus safety improvements and technology updates.
Highfields, founded in 1962 and headquartered in Onondaga, Michigan, provides opportunities for families and at-risk children through counseling. The human service agency was founded by Lansing area court officials, business people, citizens and community leaders. It originally was a residential center for boys who came from abusive environments and homes. The goal of the organization is to help the families before any issues become so severe that children need to be removed from the home. Highfields’ services have expanded to include in-home counseling for children and families.
In 1984, the Dart Foundation was founded in Mason, Michigan by William and Claire Dart. Ken Dart and his brother, Robert Dart, are on the board of directors. The foundation makes grants in support of youth education programs, primarily in engineering, technology, mathematics and science.
As the Dart Foundation continues to expand, so does its need for a larger office space. It recently moved from their Mason, Michigan space to a new 558-square foot office in the Marshall Street Armory. The larger space will allow the foundation to hire an additional permanent job and one intern position.
“The move gives us a better chance to collaboration with other funders,” says Dart Foundation Grants Manager Claudia Deschaine. “There is a movement with many of the local foundations to come together and get behind projects together, and being here makes that easier.”
In 2011, the Dart Foundation granted $3,435,276 to organizations and causes throughout the U.S. Roughly $500,000 of that was awarded around the area of Mid-Michigan. Looking forward into 2012, the foundation plans to renew the Dart family’s original focus on the STEM fields for youth. Kenneth Dart is a board member of the Dart Foundation.
“Science is a natural interest of [the Dart Family],” says Deschaine, “because they were engineers. But there are a lot of important needs in the community, and they responded to those needs. Now they’re coming back to what they feel is most important.”
Over the next three years, the Dart Foundation’s $175,000 donation to the Cayman Catboat Club will be used to restore the Whittaker Cat and support the Cayman Catboat Club Championship Series and on-going educational programs. The Whittaker Cat is a 24-foot catboat, one of the largest catboats in the Cayman Islands, built in 1962 that was originally owned by Linton Whittaker. Kem Jackson, vice president of the Catboat Club, has completely restored the Whittaker Cat thanks to the Dart Foundation, where Kenneth Dart is on the Board of Directors, and it was among the vessels in the Easter Race.
The annual Cayman Catboat Club Easter Regatta was held on April 9, 2012 from 11am to 3pm at Tiki Beach. The Easter Regatta was the final qualifying event in the Club’s championship series in order to participate in the Camana Bay National Catboat Championship, which is held in November on Remembrance Day. Spectators at the Easter Regatta enjoyed traditional Cayman games and crafts, including Soldier Crab racing, Wari and conch shell blowing. Tiki Beach provided a special menu featuring traditional Caymanian dishes.
Jerris Miller, president of the Cayman Catboat Club, said that the annual race is another step towards bringing the history and heritage of the catboat alive again. “We continue to grow each year and events like the Easter Regatta not only help to raise the profile of the Catboat Club, but also bring the tradition of catboat racing back to the Islands,” he added.