The Central Caribbean Marine Institute has received a three-year grant from the Dart Foundation to support programs at its Little Cayman research center.
The grant, for an undisclosed amount, will go toward investment in facilities and technology.
Ariane Dart said the donation, which coincides with the 10th anniversary of the facility, would help to improve dive operations, upgrade lab facilities and ensure annual maintenance of the Coral Reef Early Warning System buoy.
“We proudly support this exemplary institute in the Cayman Islands. CCMI is committed to excellence in environmental education,” Ms. Dart said in a press release.
“Their hands-on learning programs engage children in scientific thinking at an early age that builds a certain element of confidence for upper level science education,” she added.
CCMI was founded in 1998 and opened the Little Cayman Research Centre in 2005. The facility is the home base for scientists and students during residential programs that range from three days to eight weeks.
Carrie Manfrino, president and founder of CCMI, welcomed the support.
“This major three-year grant from the Dart Foundation is allowing us to replace aging equipment and make key boat repairs and facilities upgrades,” she said.
The center has several laboratories, a multimedia classroom, snorkel and dive boats, and accommodations for its staff and visitors.
CCMI runs marine research and education programs for children between the ages of 10 and 18 to analyze and understand technical data and technologies related to coral reef ecosystems.
It also offers scholarships to local students and runs Marine Ecology Courses for student groups and their teachers in grades 5-12, as well as teen programs, including Caribbean Marine Ecology Camp and the Young Environmental Leadership Course.
“Our resources, people and location merge science and education to protect, restore, and regenerate coral reefs,” said Ms. Manfrino.
She said part of the grant would go toward a digital zoom microscope that can create high-resolution images.
“The Dart Foundation is helping us achieve our goal of maintaining a world-class facility that produces quality scientific results to improve ocean-reliant communities,” she said.