The U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas and NAFSA: Association of International Educators has announced that Wilkes University has received a 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund Grant. The $25,000 grant was awarded to Wilkes and its partner, Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá. It will be used to develop a study abroad program for environmental engineering students and a faculty exchange program. The grant is one of 14 awarded by the organization.
The goal of 100,000 Strong in the Americas—the leading education initiative in the western hemisphere—is to increase the annual number of students in the United States studying in Latin America and the Caribbean to 100,000 and bring 100,000 students to the United States by 2020. Innovation Fund grants fuel partnerships between higher education institutions in the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere to create new student exchange and training programs. Innovation Fund grants build institutional capacity, increase student mobility, provide more student exchange opportunities and enhance regional education cooperation in the Americas.
Wilkes Senior Vice President and Provost Anne Skleder said the grant will allow the University to continue to grow its Latin America and Caribbean initiative. Wilkes participates in the MEDUCA Bilingual Panama Program, which brings teachers to the University to study English, and has a second partnership in which Wilkes provides English training for specific purpose with a concentration in international relations for the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (MIRE). In addition, Wilkes has enrolled Panamanian undergraduate students through a partnership with IFARHU, the educational funding agency in that country.
“Wilkes University is enthusiastic about the opportunity to grow its relationships with the Republic of Panama. The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Grant will allow us to do that,” Skleder said. “Our selection for this prestigious grant reflects Wilkes’ increasingly global focus and its commitment to provide international experiences for its students.”
Wilkes joins such distinguished institutions as the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Wisconsin as grant recipients.
The grant will fund a collaborative study abroad program for students and a faculty exchange program between Wilkes University and the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá. The two institutions will create a program to provide environmental engineering students and faculty with research-oriented, project-based learning that will promote technological innovation and cultural awareness. The program will focus on technical components, such as using key geospatial technologies and data or learning about drone technology and associated environmental sensors, to prepare students for jobs that require geospatial skills. Students will learn how to apply an interdisciplinary and team approach to both the design and implementation of research projects, enhancing their leadership skills and experiences in preparation for successful careers in the global economy. Plans call for students from the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá to come to Wilkes to study in the fall 2017 semester. Wilkes students will study in Panama in summer 2018.
The grants are sponsored by NAFSA and CAF Development Bank of Latin America in honor of NAFSA’s retired executive director and CEO Marlene Johnson. This is the first Innovation Fund grant competition sponsored by NAFSA and CAF and will facilitate 14 new higher education partnerships between the United States, Central America and the Caribbean. These grants will provide new exchange and training opportunities for students in agriculture and food security, business, education, environment, language & culture, media communications, public health, technology and tourism.
The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund is a dynamic public-private sector partnership between the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.