In partnership with NAFSA: Association of International Educators and Partners of the Americas, Secretary of State John Kerry announced today the first group of U.S. higher education institutions selected to receive grants as part of President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative: University of Arizona, University of North Texas, University of Rhode Island, and Northampton Community College. These grants were supported by a generous donation from the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation. Up to ten more higher education institutions in Latin America will be announced in the coming weeks as winners in this first round of competitive grants, selected as part of a separate competition supported with U.S. Department of State funding. The goal of 100,000 Strong in the Americas, President Obama’s signature education initiative in the Western Hemisphere, is to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean to 100,000, and the number of Latin American and Caribbean students studying in the United States to 100,000. Through these exchanges, students will improve their language skills; experience learning, living, and doing hands-on research abroad; and position themselves for a competitive advantage in their careers as global leaders, professionals, and citizens.
100,000 Strong in the Americas supports the President’s emphasis on increasing access to high quality post-secondary education, increasing collaboration and innovation, and strengthening jobs and middle-class professional opportunities. As President Obama said in a speech in Mexico City last year, “When we study together and we learn together; we work together and we prosper together.”
To accomplish this goal, the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators joined together in partnership to increase study abroad between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean. Together we launched the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund to mobilize resources for the initiative, with a goal of raising millions of dollars in private sector investment. The Fund’s focus is to create incentives for higher education institutions to overcome barriers and bring about wholesale, systemic change in how study abroad is administered in the Americas.
Steve Vetter, President and CEO of Partners of the Americas, said: “It’s spectacular when a visionary presidential initiative like 100,000 Strong in the Americas is bolstered by strong private sector investment, all in partnership with civil society organizations to make it happen. This is the essence of the people-to-people work that Partners has seen generate such impact during our 50 years of building lasting partnerships. Today’s real winners are our students, our schools, our businesses, and our communities – whose futures increasingly depend upon how well we face regional and global challenges and how well we work together.”
NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson said: “The generous support of the private sector means we will be able to offer challenge grants to universities and colleges to make study abroad in Latin America more accessible to all students, not just the few who currently benefit from a global education. Our goal is to reach a tipping point when most graduates can expect to spend part of their college experience learning and working in another culture and another language, making our entire region’s opportunities stronger as a result.”
Today’s launch recognizes the contributions of Founding Donors Santander Universities, a Division of Santander Bank, and the ExxonMobil Foundation, and from our Contributing Partners The Coca-Cola Foundation, the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. The U.S. Department of State supports 100,000 Strong in the Americas with a capacity-building grant.
Over one hundred collaborative proposals from all nine eligible countries were received in response to the first round of competition. Panels of diverse expert judges then reviewed the proposals and selected fourteen finalists.
The winning higher education institutions all demonstrate a strong focus on hemispheric partnership and exemplary new or expanded international education opportunities:
Winner: University of Arizona
Strategic Partners: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Perú in Lima and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago
To: The University of Arizona seeks to create a sustainable umbrella organization for STEM-focused student exchanges related to sustainable resource development – the Latin America Natural Resources Academy – with their Peru-and Chile-based partner institutions.
Winner: University of North Texas
Strategic Partners: The Universidad de Magallanes in Chile (UMAG) and Chile’s scientific and educational NGO, Institute for Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB)
To: This grant to the University of North Texas will enable approximately 30 undergraduate and 20 graduate U.S. students to participate each year in field courses, research experiences, and internships in Chile, including at the pristine UNESCO Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve (CHBR) at the southern end of the Americas. These resources will more than triple the number of students participating in the existing Tracing Darwin’s Path study abroad course.
Winner: University of Rhode Island
Strategic Partner: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso in Chile
To: The University of Rhode Island will expand upon its award-winning International Engineering Program to engage engineering students in the United States and Chile through international study abroad experiential service-learning activities.
Winner: Northampton Community College
Strategic Partners: Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, Perú and non-profit organization WindAid
To: Northampton Community College plans to develop a study abroad service-learning course, “Implementing Sustainable Energy Systems in Developing Communities”. The three-credit, six-week summer session course will expand on a model designed to engage STEM students and faculty, minimize student cost and time away from other obligations, and provide a rich and full study abroad experience.