With over 2000 high school drop-outs per year and an illiteracy rate of approximately 11%, many persons in Jamaica lack the necessary education to be successful. Most people are disadvantaged by factors they have no control over.
At ACRJ Foundation, we believe that everyone is unique, including persons with learning challenges. Furthermore, we are committed to ensuring that the individuals we serve become proficient in the fundamental Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects, Mathematics and English while becoming analytical thinkers and broadening their scope on general knowledge.
The best educational institutions provide an environment where ideas and experiences can be shared, where students can be equipped to be better members of society and where everyone can realize their full potential to be whatever they dream of becoming.
When this happens, we believe we will see a society defined by good morals, a commitment to community improvement and national pride. This is what drives us at ACRJ Foundation, it is the “why” that defines what we do.
Our values are at the heart of all that we do as a foundation
We believe in education for all
We believe an educated society is an empowered society
We believe in a society that is free from crime and violence
We believe in a society where people are free to participate fully in civic, economic and cultural life
We believe in helping communities advance through education
We believe in eradicating poverty through education
We believe in providing the building blocks for success
Meet our Board of Directors
We are a passionate team of talented people – who are all about increasing graduation and literacy rates throughout the Caribbean.
Dr. Simone Badal
I grew up in a home where obtaining an education was mandatory. My dad also ensured that discipline was a part of my daily routine which helped me to develop ideal time management skills. Because of this, I have accomplished academically all that I have set out to and I’m currently embarking on finding a way to reduce the disparity in incidence of mortality rates for select cancers among men and women of African descent. All this was made possible because of an educational foundation and CXCs, now CSECs played a crucial part.
Aware that many persons are not afforded these opportunities, I am passionate to give back in a way that can empower our Jamaican people. Simply giving money to those in need will not solve our problems, without a sense of purpose and knowledge of how to spend that money, a circle perpetuates of having an ill-equipped community.
Therefore, the ripple effects of the ACRJ Foundation are far reaching. Our nation is further educated and our people are more predisposed to innovative and creative ideas. Come join us in this quest.
Mr. Michael Fisher
“Never settle for less, you’re made for greater.”
I’ve never been one to sit on the sidelines or take life as it comes. As the first of my large family to attend a post-secondary educational institution, it’s vitally important that I make the most of my opportunities in life. I spend most of my time at St. Francis Xavier University (St. FX) directing and coordinating programs geared towards improving equity, cultural diversity and Pan-African culture or trying to research and explore how marginalised people conceptualise leadership. The rest of my days are divided between leading the African Canadian Investment Cooperative of Canada, the African Cultural Heritage Awareness Association and facilitating a “Finding Your Inspiration” youth career initiative with Aboriginal youth.
When I’m not working, I am either mentoring young people or training Kyokushin karate as a member of the Canadian team. I also help to coach St. FX’s varsity soccer teams and volunteer with various communities. Still, while I now live in Canada, and have had the opportunity to travel and impact people in many different countries, my heart has always been at home, in Jamaica. As such, serving with the ACRJ Foundation is both a unique opportunity and a chance to impact individuals at home in ways that I’ve been doing elsewhere. I simply want to be a part of a movement that is dedicated to unleashing the potential of young people in Jamaica and the Caribbean, helping young people unlock their own greater.
Mr. Gregory McCreath
The proud son of two chemists, I was introduced to the importance of planning, observation and patience at an early age. Under their tutelage and my hard work, I was able to earn a place in one of the top traditional high schools, Wolmer’s where I was successful at my CXCs (now CSECs), landing me a place at the UWI, Mona. Being distracted while in undergrad, I dropped out, a decision I’m not proud about but a story I hope will help someone out there. Thanks to the Lord, I was able to obtain a job with my qualifications at one of the first and top internet service providers at the time, Info Channel.
I worked as a customer service representative for 3 years after which I was promoted to manager and served in that capacity for almost a decade. While working at Info Channel, I realised that I have a passion for serving others and a strong analytical and strategic mind. I was able to go back to UWI where I graduated with honours, BSc (HRM). I’m not one for the spotlight, actually I prefer to work in the background and I don’t particularly believe my story is an exceptional one.
However, I do appreciate the benefit of a solid educational background and a strong support system to effectively utilize one’s opportunities. For me, these two factors were instilled initially by my parents and now by my beautiful wife. I believe the ACRJ Foundation provides me with a unique opportunity to serve others in an area of such importance to Jamaicans and the Caribbean.
Ms. Camisha Miller
"There are people who depend on you to be strong and who look to you with great hope. Just maybe, you may be surprised to know who your admirers are and who yearn for you to succeed thereby blazing a trail of hope for them."
Taken from one of my favourite books, I have found inspiration in these words. I strongly believe that education is the key to success and that there is no limit to what one can achieve. This belief has led me to pursue Graduate studies, teach students and now preparing for Accounting Professional Examinations.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the ACRJ Foundation whereby I can play my role in transforming at least one life. This is just the beginning. Every dream begins with one step. You don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great.
Mrs. Yvonne Bailey
I grew up with both parents, but my mother played a positive and an integral role in my childhood development. “Hard work does not kill anyone,” was one of her favourite sayings. With that constantly being reverberated, from an early age, myself and siblings, five brothers and one sister learned the value of hard work.
My professional development spans over a 35-year experience with the major part at the University of the West Indies, Mona. I enjoy my career path which comes with hard work, commitment, a deep sense of integrity and a tenacious spirit. All these have helped to develop my interpersonal relationships and passion for success over these many years.
My reasons for wanting to serve ACRJ Foundation is that having served in various capacities on the job, voluntary services and seeing the positive results, here again, I see another opportunity to offer sterling service. St. Andrew Technical High, the University of Technology and the University of the West Indies all prepared me for the pivotal role in qualifying me for this journey. No challenge is therefore too great, having been married for 31 years to one of the greatest men on earth, Eddie and having two adult children, Jason and Jinelle.
Mr. Pete Smith
It’s not my intention to try and save the world, however, it is my belief that by assisting one, two or several young persons in my community, is one small way of making a positive impact on our society and economy. Hence, it is for this reason I chose to be aligned with the ACRJ Foundation which has similar goals and ambitions. This Foundation which sees the need to give back to society’s more needy in a tangible and long-lasting way through the opportunity of an education is indeed capable of national, regional and global change.
As I commit to this cause, I bring with me a wealth of experience as I am currently the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Community and Workers of Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union Limited (CWJCCUL) with over 10 years of experience as a director. I am also a Regional Regulatory Finance Advisor with Cable & Wireless Communications which operates under the brand FLOW in thirteen jurisdictions in the Caribbean with direct responsibilities for Regulatory accounting compliance and reporting. This responsibility also includes advising these businesses on Regulatory Finance matters as well as the development of accounting and economic models used primarily for economic and service viability analysis. In my twenty years plus with the organisation, I have worked in a number of departments within the Finance division before the merger of our Regulatory Finance and Legal department was forged in 2006.
Mr. Damion Wilks
As the Director of Marketing, ACRJ Foundation, I bring with me a wealth of knowledge and skilled expertise gained over fifteen years of experience at one of Jamaica's premiere telecommunication organisations. Here I am involved in the conceptualization, implementation, observation and re-evaluation of a variety of products and services throughout the Caribbean. “The obstacle is the path” is a little-known Zen proverb that resonates with me. I recognise that much is often made of the problems affecting education in Jamaica and that many see the problems as systemic and insurmountable. Still, others may choose to ignore the problems, or try to work around them, or simply throw their hands up in defeat.
I, however, believe there is another way and I choose to see the existing problems as the path through which the hope of a better education system can be realised. This nuanced approach to problem-solving and my ability to see the path even through the obstacles, make me an integral member of the ACRJ team in its efforts to assist early school leavers with CSECs and Inner City persons with vocational training. I believe in ensuring that every child is afforded the opportunity for the best education possible.
Meet our Leadership Team
We are a passionate team of talented people – who are all about increasing graduation and literacy rates throughout the Caribbean.
Dr. Sophia Bryan
It does not matter your circumstances, the sky’ s the limit. During my journey towards my PhD in Biochemistry and even after obtaining it, I have taught, mentored and interacted with numerous undergraduates. I have learnt from them in the interim also. Their personal life stories have been quite intriguing, at times worthy of pulling at one’ s heartstrings but still inspirational. Many of them have known about poverty, violence and teenage pregnancy and never envisioned that their lives would have transformed so dramatically in a number of positive ways. Some have become medical doctors, on their way towards their PhD or have obtained it. Others are now successfully working in industry, academia and have become entrepreneurs. All made possible through opportunities and education.
I am proud to be a part of an initiative like the ACRJ Foundation, where our young people will get a second chance at life to become persons of worth and maximise their full potential. With education and life skills learnt, they will become better citizens who are able to contribute more meaningfully to society- the multiplier effect. As the ACRJ Foundation slogan states “transforming lives one subject at a time”.
Mr. Bedard Badal
While growing up, my parents instilled in me discipline, a strong sense of self and moral values, through which I have come to appreciate the value of education. I was successful at both CSEC and CAPE level examinations as I achieved almost all distinctions. Currently, I am pursuing my degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Technology, Jamaica, where I have successfully completed two and a half years to current, poised for honours.
As such my career trajectory is a promising one, only made possible through a solid educational foundation. It is therefore important to me that my fellow Jamaican and Caribbean nationals obtain a similar foundation in order to fully maximize their potential.
Dr. Cameil Wilson-Clarke
In my family, education is valued and as a child, it was the most important pursuit to be accomplished. From as far back as I can remember, my parents have instilled in my brothers and myself the importance of scholastic excellence. Being from a poor family, education was seen as the game changer to break the cycle of poverty and achieve financial success. Growing up, I did not have much. My parents worked hard to provide the basic necessities of life and maintained a disciplined environment that helped me to achieve the success I have today. Scholastic excellence became the only expectation of me in our household. After completing my secondary level of education, I entered the field of Pharmacy where I received my doctorate. Later, I entered academia and pursued a Masters of Arts degree in teaching from The University of the West Indies. I am very aware that it is on the backs of many my success became possible. Not everyone has the support of a strong and nurturing environment like I did which is an element of academic sustainability. I am happy to be a part of the ACRJ Foundation which is positioned to provide an environment that fosters those who aren't as privileged as I was growing up with parents like mine.
Mr. Bruce McDonald
“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you”– Buddha.
My journey in Information Communication Technology (ICT) began at the tender age of 14 years old when I wrote my first program. Since then I have been passionate about programming which led me to pursue a career as a System Architect/Developer. I studied Computer Science at the University of Technology where I quickly realised that I was deeply enthusiastic about technology and its impact on society. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Management, shortly thereafter I joined the UWI Mona Information Technology Services family. My passion for computer sciences and the drive to give back or contribute significantly to the industry is one of the reasons why I now work part time as an adjunct lecturer. With my experience in the field, I can contribute a few hours per week to help the development of the next generation of IT professionals. My drive towards voluntary service has propelled me to join several initiatives, I became a member of ACRJ Foundation in late 2016 a movement geared towards assisting early school leavers and inner city persons.
Ms. Krisan Montgomery
“A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn” ~ Hellen Keller.
Growing up I’ ve learnt to focus on the positives and use the negatives as stepping stones. So whenever I encountered failures, I always had the courage to try again. My parents saw it fit to invest greatly in my education. I had the opportunity to graduate from high school, university and now I’ m currently enrolled in a master’ s programme at the University of the West Indies, Mona, where I am actively searching for a new tool to combat cancer. I believe at the end of my journey, it won’ t be about what I’ ve accomplished but it will be about who I’ ve lifted up, who I’ ve helped to make better and what I’ve given back. There’ s never a set time to give back.
As I aspire to inspire young lives, being a part of the ACRJ Foundation is the perfect start to my journey. The effects of this foundation will be life changing. Join us as we empower people through access to quality education. Remember, education is power and with the power, we can transform a multitude.
Mr. Andrew Anglin
“Try not to be of success but rather try to be of value.”– Albert Einstein.
This is my mantra and how I work to achieve my goals and indeed education is a key component to success but should work in conjunction with values and integrity. I grew up in Sunderland, a small community in St. James. I spent my off school days either reading novels, on the farm with daddy, swimming in the river or playing outside with my siblings. Early childhood education was obtained at the Crooked Spring Basic School after which I matriculated to the John’ s Hall All-Age School where 6 years later I sat GSAT and was placed at the Cornwall College. Even though high school was fun it was a bridge to be crossed to becoming that man of value that I aspire to be. In addition to my academic pursuits at high school, I engaged in extracurricular activities, as I was an athlete and a well-recognized member of the Spanish and Chess clubs. I represented Cornwall well whenever I wore any of these ‘ hats’ in competition and of these, my passion is chess as it is a way to keep my brain active. My tertiary education was obtained at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, where I was awarded a B.Sc. in Computer Science (major) and Economics (minor). I’ m currently an IT professional and a freelance photographer.
Finally, failures are stepping stones to success and should never be thought of as cul-de-sacs. The ACRJ Foundation provides me with a platform to help persons realise their true potential and be a conduit for imparting values in the mix.
Our Advisory Board
Camille Ragin, PhD, MPH
- Associate Professor
- Cancer Prevention & Control Program Fox Chase
- PI African Caribbean Cancer Consortium (AC3)
David Henry, PhD, Attorney-at -law
- Pastor, Swallowfield Chapel
Cordell Green, Attorney-at-law
- Executive Director
– Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation
- Owner, Control Solutions
John Lindo, PhD
- Professor of Parasite Epidemiology & Deputy Dean (research)
– Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI, Mona, JA
Nche Zama, MSc., PhD
- Thoracic & Cardiac surgeon
– East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
- Co-owner, Water Drops
Donnelle Watson-Banks, MBA
- Dir. of Info. Tech., Jamaica Public Service
Letter from our Founder
– Simone Badal
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”– Nelson Mandella. According to a report released by the United Nation's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Jamaica is listed as having the sixth highest homicide rate in the world. Why? Whatever the cause(s), I believe I have a part to play in changing the story. I was travelling to Massachusetts for a 2 weeks’ vacation in August 2016 where my husband would meet me later. With a 23-hour layover in Philadelphia, I decided to bunk with Camille Ragin, the head of the African Caribbean Cancer Consortium. While flying there, I entertained my thoughts to look back over my professional life and I realised I had been blessed. I had co-edited a textbook that was scheduled for release in December 2016 (now published), I had all my degrees, had recently furnished my lab, and was embarking on cutting edge research to help ease the burden of prostate and breast cancers among our Jamaican men and women respectively. It is true that I wish I was in a better place financially but I knew that I had developed a skill set that was wealthy enough to rally a cause. I had a burning desire to give back somehow, but how and to what, those were the lingering questions. It wasn’t long until I realised I’ve studied and worked so hard because I’m passionate about education in all its forms. My attention soon turned to the daunting statistics that over 2000 high school students, drop out each year and over 11% of our society are illiterate. Then I thought how factors like the inability to find bus fare and lunch money, weak parental support, bullying, teenage pregnancy, limited prospects on the job market - even for qualified candidates - and uninteresting teaching methodologies continue to fail our students and cripple our society every day. There it was: I, along with other like-minded people, needed to help these persons to get a foundational education through Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate. After sharing my thoughts with Camille, who shared in my enthusiasm and suggested ways for partnerships. I shared my idea with others who eagerly joined me on this quest and who work diligently to fulfil our vision. Maya Angelo states, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” I believe that the ripple effects of this foundation will be magnanimous for years to come. If you believe like me that education is power, join us as we rally the cause to empower people to be confident, thoughtful and independent masters of their own destinies. Together, let’s eliminate early school leavers and increase the literacy rate, one life, one Jamaican, and one West Indian at a time.
With enthusiasm for the future,
Simone Badal McCreath
We love what we do
We work synergistically with various partners to create an environment that fosters innovation and creativity towards economic advancement throughout the region.