The State University of New York (SUNY) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) are uniting in a partnership to create the SUNY-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development. The center is aiming to provide services to underserved Caribbean communities offering educational and training programs to the Caribbean and its Diaspora locally and abroad, said the center’s director.
“The objective of the center is to ensure that Caribbean and small island developing state nationals maximize their potential and growth by giving them tools and training to fully access economic opportunities,” said Liz Thompson, executive director of the center.
The dual-institutional effort was formed late last year. One of the center’s goals is to even out racial disparities with opportunities often lacking within the Caribbean community, said Thompson.
“There is research which shows that Black populations, particularly Black men lag behind other ethnic groups in access to and attaining qualifications of tertiary education, which guarantees higher income levels,” she said. “In that regard, without appropriate education and skills, poverty and underdevelopment can become and remain endemic and widespread amongst Caribbean populations.”
Still in the early stages, so far the center has already honed in on their areas of focus.
“A board has been established and a number of sub-committees set up to deal with issues of finance, technology, academic programs, marketing and outreach and the establishment of a network of experts,” said Thompson. “Focus has also been placed on the appointment of fellows and a think tank. Programs at the level of bachelor and master degrees and certificate and diploma courses are in the process of being designed. It has also been necessary to reach out to the Caribbean diplomatic corps, organizations of Caribbean nationals, and New York congress and state representatives to inform of the center’s presence.”
And even though the center is based in New York, Thompson said the results of the center will have a far reach beyond the city.
“It is expected that the center will play a similar developmental role to that which it plays in the Caribbean,” she said. “The University of the West Indies acknowledges the contribution of Caribbean nationals to New York and US society and economy but wishes to equip all citizens for upward social mobility and to play a larger role in economic growth.”
The center celebrates its official launch with a symposium on banking in the Caribbean, at The SUNY Global Center in Manhattan on Feb. 13.
“The Crisis in Correspondent Banking and its Impact on Sustainable Economic Development in the Caribbean” at The SUNY Global Center in Manhattan. [116 East 55th St. between Lexington and Park avenues, www.suny.edu, (212) 317-3500]. Feb. 13 at 10 am. Free.