Get to know an organization making a HUGE impact in the maritime industry, the Organization of Black Maritime Graduates.

Founded in 1994, the Organization of Black Maritime Graduates (OBMG) has improved education opportunities for underserved students seeking careers in the maritime professions. They have focused on increasing minority involvement in the maritime industry through recruitment, scholarships, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Having awarded $250,000 in scholarships to more than 200 SUNY Maritime students, OBMG has made an impressive impact on the maritime industry.

Key objectives of the 501(c)(3) organization are threefold: (1) “increase minority participation in the engineering, marine and maritime professions through exposure, mentoring and scholarships;” (2) “establish professional networks that will lead to valuable career opportunities for our members;” and (3) “positively impact the maritime industry through our involvement in key projects and initiatives.”

With 27 years of impact, OBMG has made a difference in the maritime industry. Here at Women Offshore, we wanted to learn more, so we reached out to the OBMG with some questions.

Women Offshore: Why was the OBMG founded?

OBMG: The OBMG was founded in 1994 by Captain Robert Cook and Captain Howard Wyche along with 4 other SUNY Maritime College graduates, Mark Bodden, Captain Eugene Monroe (Bahamas), Engineers Joe Lewis and Dave Holman, Esq. The Mission of the Founding Board of OBMG was to “Assist and Encourage” and increase the educational possibilities for the minority students and cadets at Maritime College through mentoring and scholarships.

Women Offshore: How has OBMG made a difference in the industry?

OBMG: We have made a difference in several ways. The OBMG has increased recruitment of minorities from underserved communities for maritime education; created a group that supports the next generation of minority mariners; developed a strong relationship with SUNY Maritime College which has facilitated campus changes regarding diversity and inclusion; created greater awareness of the important history of minority mariners; cultivated a forum for discussion about diversity and inclusion; increased awareness of minority challenges in the industry; and mentored minorities through the challenges that are faced which has helped their career advancement.

Women Offshore: How have you supported women in the industry?

OBMG: Since inception, we have felt that it is vital to support and have representation from women. We have always had female representation on our board. In addition, there is always strong female representation among our scholarship recipients. 14% of the student population at SUNY Maritime is female. OBMG has awarded 30% of our scholarships to females. In fact, our very first two scholarships, awarded in 1995, were awarded to Althea Dewar and Annemarie Bhola.

Women Offshore: What are you most proud of at the OBMG?

OBMG: With over 25 years of service, our members and supporters represent a broad spectrum of ethnicities and professions. We have awarded over 200 scholarships and 90% of OBMG scholarship recipients graduated. Scholarship recipients have become leaders in their fields, both ashore and afloat, and many have become business owners. We are proud of our members and their continued support; members who are dedicated to supporting the OBMG’s mission and donate generously. Additionally, we have grown a network of industry support and collaborations with groups like SUNY Maritime College, MMP, APMA, NNOA, FISERV, Marine Society NYC, Propeller Club DC, Blue Water Scholarship Fund, and many others.

Women Offshore: What are your challenges?

OBMG: There are many challenges that our organization faces. There is lack of industry support; challenges in increasing membership and funding for scholarships; difficulties in acquiring funding and opportunities for HS students to access maritime experiences and summer STEM programs to support recruitment; and treatment of minorities on maritime campuses and in the maritime industry.

Women Offshore: What’s next for the OBMG?

OBMG: We are establishing a Mentoring Program, while building relationships and industry connections to further support maritime and engineering students and cadets. We are establishing MOU’s with more organizations. We are always working to recruit more maritime scholars from underserved communities.

Women Offshore: How can the industry support the OBMG?

OBMG: Become a member. Membership dues provide OBMG with unrestricted funds for operating costs. 100% of all donations go to scholarships. Donate to the OBMG Scholarship Fund. All donations are tax deductible as we are a 501(c)(3) organization. All donations go to scholarships for Summer Sea Term, which is more expensive every year, it now costs $10,000 – $15,000 per cadet. Funding is a challenge as loans are difficult or impossible to get for the semester-at-sea. Provide paid internships and summer/winter break jobs for cadets. They need experience as well as revenue while in school. Underserved scholars often lack the generational maritime knowledge and family financial support that is available to many of their peers. Provide opportunities for maritime cadets to attend industry events. Reach out to join our mentoring program. Lastly, provide job opportunities for OBMG members and minority graduates. 

Women Offshore: Where can someone reach out if they want to help support your mission?

OBMG: Please visit OBMG.org

Women Offshore
About The Author: Women Offshore

Women Offshore is an online organization and resource center for a diverse workforce on the water. Its mission is to shine a light on women in operations, provide resources to foster long-term careers, and share the latest efforts on gender diversity and inclusion in the offshore and maritime industries. Contact Women Offshore today: hello@womenoffshore.org

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