Ten years of commitment to our community, and our vision keeps growing as we try to remain relevant to those we serve


How it began

Almost two decades ago, The Cotton Tree Foundation was established by a group of Trinidadian citizens for the benefit of the residents of Belmont, East Dry River, St Ann’s, Cascade and their environs. The Foundation was concerned about the increasing number of disadvantaged people in our society. It commissioned a community census which identified extensive poverty and high unemployment, especially among young adults, in the aforementioned areas as major focus areas.

Formalising the organisation

The single, giant silk cotton tree which stands where the Belmont Circular Road meets the Queen’s Park Savannah was the original symbol for the Foundation. Silk cotton trees, also known as Java cotton or kapok trees, are known for their resilience and moisture-resistance. Despite the many obstacles the group of determined friends and colleagues have faced, such as bureaucracy and lack of funding, the Foundation has persevered. Its initiatives are welcome additions in the communities they serve and have indeed become beacons of hope.

At a meeting in April 1993, it was agreed to formalise the organisation, whose main goal was to help alleviate some of the more pressing problems affecting the client communities. The concept was further developed by the late Desmond Allum, S. C. who at the time was the Member of Parliament for the St Ann’s area. According to Allum the Foundation’s logo was based on the Cotton Tree because of ” its indomitable nature and its nurturing qualities”.

The Foundation was convened as a non-profit, charitable trust, under whose auspices local and overseas funding would be sought to finance the establishment of the various projects designed to meet the community’s needs.

In 1994, the Trinidad and Tobago government leased the entire Spanish Acres property at upper St Ann’s to the Foundation, at a nominal fee under a long-term arrangement. Spanish Acres, which sits on a seven-acre lot of land, was formerly the (two-building) residence of the late Sir Grantley Adams, Prime Minister of the defunct West Indies Federation.


Major Thrust

The Foundation’s major thrust is to provide early childhood education with pre-school accommodation for forty children between the ages of two and five years. This is done in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Servol. Ministry of Education specifications have to be met regarding curriculum deliveries and environment. Other initiatives include the After School Programme/Home-work Club which provides supplemental coaching, remedial literacy and a supportive work environment for primary-level children. Computer Literacy classes, a Service Learning programme providing psychological services by foreign doctoral students, Legal Aid Clinic and Annual Family Vacation Camp round off the organisation’s main contributions.

“And although all the government departments have been very, very supportive, nothing is happening with the provision of funds. One funding agency, the European Commission Delegation in Port of Spain, stands ready to assist, but is still waiting for the government to say the magic words: we have no objection.” Allum explained.

Like the lone Silk Cotton Tree, the Foundation’s board of directors continue to persevere in the name of the poor and disenfranchised in the communities, sharing the conviction that non-partisan long term solutions must be identified, instituted and administered.


Other Activities

Through its own fund raising and with help from corporate sponsors, the Foundation has been able to complete a well-lit basketball court that is in daily/nightly use, and to complete administrative offices.