Audrey Marks invests in future education
Businesswoman and philanthropist Ambassador Audrey Marks has announced the establishment of the $100,000 Claude and Olive Marks Entrepreneurial Achievement Award, in support of the Government's initiative to introduce the Junior Achievement Company of Entrepreneurs (JACE) project.
This initiative, in honour of her parents who were small business owners from the parish of St Mary, is expected to benefit the top business student at Marymount High School anually. The special award falls under Jamaica's Promise, the foundation set up by Paymaster Jamaica Limited several years ago.
"Though my parents were small entrepreneurs, they passed on those skills to me, so it is now up to me to pass on what I have learnt to others."
Ambassador Marks, founder of Jamaica's first multi-payments company, said she decided to set up the scholarship because history shows that coming out of slavery, plantation owners established important trusts, many of which were for educational support.
She added further that post-slavery generations of entrepreneurs had put aside something to educate the future generation and it was now incumbent on her generation to do the same. "Our education system is in a crisis situation and we must in the spirit of collective responsibility, upgrade and improve it," Marks said.
The St Mary native was addressing the recent graduation ceremony of her alma mater, Marymount High School.
ESTABLISHING SCHOOL LAB
She also told the eager audience that she, along with past student Natalie St Louis, were collaborating with the school board chairman, the principal and the building fund team to establish a second science lab, and that this lab will be specifically for science and innovation. She disclosed that $2 million had been donated towards the targeted $10 million being raised for the lab's completion.
Ambassador Marks told The Gleaner that prominent Jamaicans like R. Danny Williams, Karl Hendrickson and Michael Lee-Chin, and others, had given back millions in trusts and other funding for education and she believes other entrepreneurs should do likewise.
"We must contribute so that we can change the schools' curriculum to one that creates more of the skill sets that are needed for today's economy," she said.