The Ministry of Health and the University of the West Indies have collaborated over 25 years to develop the evidence base to improve maternal health. The experience is reviewed as a model to accelerate Jamaica’s progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The process included measuring the disease burden due to maternal morbidity and mortality; developing and field testing interventions to manage the leading problems, national scale-up, monitoring and evaluation. This began with developing clinical guidelines to manage the hypertensive disorders of pregnancy while establishing high risk (referral) antenatal clinics, expansion and upgrading of referral facilities, and audits to identify barriers to quality healthcare, including establishing maternal mortality surveillance. As we succeed, research funds have become scarce, limiting support to postgraduate students, a reliable, cost effective resource pool capable of undertaking the research needed to provide the evidence base to influence public policy more widely. A locally financed resource pool is needed to support fellowships for graduate students to accelerate their training and availability to contribute to national development. The model from Thailand is put forward for consideration. The operations research model for maternal health can be transferred to other MDG objectives. As Jamaica pursues its goal of developed nation status, and international grant financing shrinks, local civil society will need to fill the vacancy and invest in the most abundant natural resource, young people.