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American Caribbean Maritime Foundation (ACMF)

A beacon of faith in the future

US-based charity provides funding for region’s maritime students.

A strong desire to see the Caribbean region achieve its economic potential in the maritime sector drove Jamaican-born Dr Geneive Brown Metzger, a former Consul General in New York, to set up the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation with the aim of raising funds to provide scholarships for students at the Caribbean Maritime University in Kingston. She talked to CM about her ambitions and hopes.

 

ACMF Logo

No-one can doubt that higher education in maritime subjects is one of the most likely pathways to future economic prosperity in the Caribbean region. With the Caribbean Maritime Institute in Jamaica achieving university status at the beginning of this year, the spotlight has been on the New York-based organization that was set up last year to provide funds for the maritime university and its students.

The American Caribbean Maritime Foundation (ACMF) is a not-for-profit charity foundation with a mission to provide more and better opportunities for Caribbean students to study and work in the maritime and logistics fields.


Impetus

The impetus for setting up the ACMF came from Dr Geneive Brown Metzger, a former diplomat, who handles the day-to-day activities of the foundation as its president and executive director. Born in Jamaica, she has lived in the United States for the majority of her life and has devoted many years as a public servant and community leader to furthering the economic and social well-being of Caribbean Americans and people in the Caribbean in general and Jamaica in particular.

“As Consul General for Jamaica [in New York] I got an appreciation for the importance of the maritime industry, including shipping and logistics, to the economic growth of Jamaica and the Caribbean,” Dr Brown Metzger told CM. “The foundation was a result of that realization and my service as international chair for the Caribbean Maritime Institute. It was clear there was a critical need for resources to support students already studying maritime [subjects] and those who were qualified but couldn’t afford the cost of tertiary education. I was specifically asked by CMI’s executive director, Dr Fritz Pinnock, to lead the effort.”

As well as providing scholarships for students at the maritime university, the ACMF is looking to raise funds for the first Caribbean MARPOL facility, to be established at the CMU. This campaign is being led by Carleen Lyden Walker, executive director of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA), who recently joined the board of the ACMF (see panel story below).


Future growth

The ACMF has a clear idea of how the Caribbean region can move forward economically. It fully shares the view of CARICOM that shipping and logistics will be the main drivers of future growth.

“The expansion of the Panama Canal is tremendously significant to Jamaica in particular and the Caribbean in general,” Dr Brown Metzger told CM. “In sum, it means more efficient and cost-effective transportation of goods from East to West. Jamaica is geographically located in the midst of the route and as such is developing Kingston Harbour to accommodate the new generation of vessels. The Bahamas is also important in the region.”

In terms of generating new jobs in the Caribbean, she pointed to the good example set by the Philippines, which “set out with a plan to be a leading source of maritime workers and now provides the world with upwards of 30 per cent of maritime workers.” She went on: “CARICOM believes our region can do the same. More than 60 per cent of all ships traverse the Caribbean waterways and the thinking is that we need to build on this strategic reality.”

 


 

Namepa in joint plan to set up marpol training academy at CMU

“There is a current situation of marine environment risk in the Caribbean due to the lack of implementation of international marine pollution regulations. I see the CMU as the focal point in the Caribbean for addressing this risk.” Environmental That is the view of Carleen Lyden Walker, executive director of the North American Marine Environmental Protection Association (NAMEPA), who recently joined the board of the ACMF with a view to creating a Caribbean version of NAMEPA and, eventually, setting up a MARPOL Training Academy at the Caribbean Maritime University. She points out that, while 86 per cent of the Caribbean nations have ratified the MARPOL Convention, only 24 per cent of them have implemented MARPOL. “This leaves the Caribbean vulnerable to pollution incidents without the appropriate preparation, response, remediation and recourse opportunities to address any such incident,” says Ms Lyden Walker. “Prevention is always the goal, but if the unthinkable occurs, responsible nations need to be prepared.” Her cooperation with the ACMF and the CMU is “a relatively new relationship. I met Geneive [Brown Metzer] and Dr Fritz Pinnock at an event in New York and was struck by their vision, passion and commitment to the CMU.” As a first step towards establishing a MARPOL Training Academy at the university, NAMEPA is assembling a consortium of maritime, government and conservations interests. “We are speaking to the cruise industry, the Caribbean Shipping Association, the salvage community, OAS-CIP and others to form CARIBMEPA,” says Ms Lyden Walker. “One of the action items will be the development of a MARPOL Training Academy. The ACMF will be the catalyst for fund-raising to make this vision a reality.” Stakeholders It won’t be achieved overnight, as Ms Lyden Walker is well aware. “Right now, my efforts are directed at building CARIBMEPA. The next step will be working the process for the MARPOL Training Academy. This is a large project, involving multiple stakeholders, and must be carefully curated in order to be successful. Given the importance of the project, the quality of the leadership of the CMU and the ACMF, the significant need for the Caribbean to protect its largest assets, and the thirst for building educational capacity within the Caribbean, I fervently believe we will be successful.” 


 

ACMF and its mission

The American Caribbean Maritime Foundation is a relatively new entity. It was established in 2015 and received its non-profit status the following year with the guidance of its pro bono legal counsel, Milbank Tweed. Its inaugural board meeting was held in May 2016. Due to the critical importance of its mission, it has been able to assemble a strong board of top financial and legal people along with a key person in the maritime industry. The key aims of the ACMF are: • To raise funds • To provide scholarships and other funding for students at maritime institutions • To provide facilities and equipment • To foster the development of low-income communities in which the institution has a campus. The CMU is the legal beneficiary of the ACMF and the university’s general counsel, Deniece Aiken, serves on the ACMF board. As well as providing scholarships for CMU students, one of the foundation’s key objectives is the establishment of a MARPOL facility. “This is vital to the CMU’s future if it is to succeed as a regional and international maritime training facility,” Dr Brown Metzger told CM. 


 

Funding

ACMF’s target for funding initially is corporate, shipping and logistics companies; individuals with personal or business connections in the Caribbean; and online. Students apply for ACMF scholarships through the maritime university. The CMU is responsible for vetting the students and the foundation works closely with the maritime university to ensure that funds are distributed according to rigorous guidelines. 


 

About the founder

Dr Geneive Brown Metzger is founder and president of the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation. A former Consul General of Jamaica in New York, she is also the international chair of the CMU. She previously served as co-chair of the University of Technology in Jamaica, which conferred an honorary doctorate for her exemplary public service. Dr Brown Metzger is also a founding member of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce & Industry and was the consultant who established the American Foundation for the University of the West Indies. Although she has lived in the United States for many years, her roots are in Jamaica. “I come from humble Jamaican parents who sacrificed a lot to ensure their six children got an education and were able to compete and make a difference, not just for themselves but for others,” she told CM. “I have always given time to public service, focusing on education, business and the arts.” An amateur violinist and lover of the arts, she served on a board to restore an old Paramount theatre in New York and to raise funds to support the arts in poor communities. Dr Brown Metzger says that, having essentially grown up there, she is “an American for all intents and purposes and I am fortunate to have that. However, I’ve always embraced my Jamaican roots and wanted to make a difference and to help.” Looking to the future, she told CM: “I’d like the ACMF to be an agent for change in the Caribbean and a resource that truly makes a difference for individuals who will have an opportunity to change their futures because of the support they receive from the ACMF.”

To find out more about the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation, please visit their website: https://www.acmfdn.org/

 

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