Institutions of Higher Education Win 100,000 Strong in the Americas Funding for Study Abroad with Support from the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

For Immediate Release
Washington, DC
Tuesday, December 15, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC: December 15, 2015. The White House, U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators announced eight new 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grants sponsored by Campus Puerto Rico to support university partnerships and new study abroad programs at an event with Vice President Joe Biden.

“We have to invest in the greatest natural resource we all have – in our people…this investment in our young minds is critically important,” Vice President Biden stated at the event. “It rests on exposure… exposure to culture, language, and politics of other countries. That’s how we’re going to build the closest ties that will cement the economic growth and stability of this hemisphere.”

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 the Western Hemisphere to 100,000, and the number of Western Hemisphere students studying in the United States to 100,000 by the year 2020. The initiative is aimed at enhancing hemispheric competitiveness, increasing prosperity, and preparing a more globally competent workforce.

The objective of the current competition, generously supported by the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as part of the Campus Puerto Rico initiative, is to increase bi-directional collaboration in the Western Hemisphere and to increase study abroad opportunities involving Puerto Rico. The competition was open to higher education institutions (HEIs) in Puerto Rico, Latin America, Canada and the Caribbean.

“Puerto Rico is aggressively seizing the economic benefits of growing study abroad,” said Steve Vetter, President and CEO of Partners of the Americas. “Campus Puerto Rico is an extraordinary public-private partnership bringing together government, all higher education institutions on the island and the private sector under one banner for a common purpose. With such a rich academic tradition, centrally located in the hemisphere, with a growing bilingual society, Puerto Rico can offer what few others can to students from Latin America who want to learn English and to North American students who want to learn Spanish in a university setting. The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund is proud to be their partner.”

The Innovation Fund awards promote transnational institutional partnerships rather than direct scholarships. The announced awards are up to $25,000 each and will leverage commitments from the selected universities to increase student mobility, address institutional barriers that prevent students from studying abroad, and promote study between Puerto Rico and the Americas. It is expected that more than 85 students will study abroad between Puerto Rico and nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean as a direct result of the eight grants.

The Innovation Fund grants were awarded to:

Pontificia  Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico, Ponce, Puerto Rico
Partners: Universidad Católica Boliviana “San Pablo,” Bolivia; Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador, El Salvador; Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo, Mexico; Universidad Católica Redemptoris Mater, Nicaragua
Project Title: “Service Learning Exchange Program (SLEP)”

The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico (PUCPR), in partnership with four higher education institutions throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, Universidad Católica Boliviana “San Pablo,” Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador, Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo, and Universidad Católica Redemptoris Mater, developed the Service Learning Exchange Program (SLEP). SLEP will place an innovative spin on typical academic exchange programs by enhancing their academic experience with a service-learning component that will give students the opportunity to participate in a broad range of community service projects while applying their knowledge.

Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Partner:
Seminario Evangélico de Teología, Matanzas, Cuba
Project Title: “Conversation between Islands: A Seminarian Interchange Program between Cuba and Puerto Rico”

The proposed program between Puerto Rico and Cuba aims to further strengthen the formal relationship between the respective seminaries. The project is a first phase in a three-phase institutional effort, which begins with a student exchange, followed by a faculty exchange, and ultimately, the development of an agreement to create and promote joint contextual academic programs. Seminario Evangélico’s program will emphasize collaboration between students and institutions, address the language barrier present in the Caribbean, promote nontraditional models of theological education, and encourage diversity and inclusion in theological and biblical approaches while taking into account the Cuban and Puerto Rican contexts.

Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Partners: Universidad Metropolitana, San Juan, PR; Universidad de Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, Mayaguez, PR; Universidad Católica Redemptoris Mater (UNICA), Managua, Nicaragua
Project Title: “UNICA-Puerto Rico Alliance”

Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez, Universidad Metropolitana, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, and Universidad Católica de Nicaragua developed a partnership to implement a research program that will prepare undergraduate and precollege students from economically-disadvantaged communities in Nicaragua in research methodology using project-based learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and computer sciences (STEM-C).  The program is designed around the primary goal of increasing recruitment and participation of students in the Americas in STEM-C disciplines. It will reach high school students, by providing them with a pipeline to undertake hands-on research in a university setting, and undergraduates from the partnering institutions through an eight-week summer research experience. 

Universidad del Este, Carolina, Puerto Rico
Partner: Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, Lima, Peru
Project Title: “Expanding Bidirectional Study Abroad through Long-Term Faculty Integration”

Through the Innovation Fund grant, Universidad del Este will build on its existing partnership with Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola. The partnership aims to increase student engagement in study abroad, particularly in the fields of entrepreneurial business and culinary arts, strengthen Universidad del Este’s institutional capacity to promote and support student and faculty exchange, and develop curriculum within the business and culinary arts programs. The multifaceted program will mobilize the greatest number of students to participate in bi-directional study abroad in the Western Hemisphere during the grant period and beyond through increased student-faculty interaction, internationalized curriculum, development of a strong support system for study abroad, and creation and improvement of exchange policies and procedures at Universidad del Este.

Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Facultad de Derecho, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Partner: Universidad de La Habana, Havana, Cuba
Project Title: “Law in Times of Internationalization”

Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Facultad de Derecho and Universidad de La Habana envisioned a two-way collaborative exchange that will enable graduate students in the legal profession to learn, experience, and compare two completely different legal systems. The proposed program will integrate master’s level (LLM) law students from Puerto Rico (UIAPR) and graduate students from the Universidad de Habana in the teaching-learning experience of the legal systems of both countries from a comparative perspective. Students will be taking courses in Puerto Rico and in Cuba to obtain knowledge and understanding of the legal context of each country, placing emphasis in litigation and alternative dispute resolution, and also share the fundamental concepts of their judicial systems.

Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, San Germán, San Germán, Puerto Rico
Partner: Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios, Medellín, Colombia
Project Title: “IAUPR-SG Student Exchange Project”

The Innovation Fund grant will enable Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, San Germán and Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios to enhance and strengthen the academic exchange already underway between the partnering institutions. A major activity of their joint project will be student engagement in research experiences.  The Universidad Interamericana, San Germán will provide Colombian students with a unique setting for learning about the culture, democracy, social affairs, history, as well as Latin America and U.S. relations in the second half of the twentieth century. Another component of the program is the establishment of a faculty exchange to develop resources and improve study abroad processes, such as recruitment, legal immigration compliance, travel logistics, admissions, and other student exchange services.

Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Metro Campus, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Partner: Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica
Project Title: “Partnership Model for Bridging Research in Biodiversity and Bio Prospecting between Puerto Rico and Costa Rica”

The program proposed will provide research experience for undergraduate and graduate students from Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Metro Campus, and Universidad de Costa Rico to share knowledge and skills in specific fields and laboratory techniques in STEM subjects. Travel to the partnering country for field courses will introduce students to the different field methodologies in both countries and enable them to gain hands-on and research experience. The innovation of this program lies in the involvement of students and faculty in the exploration of the ecological potential of Puerto Rico and Costa Rica’s biodiversity through high-level scientific research based on bio prospection-guided research.

Universidad Politécnica de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Partner: Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Project Title: “Doctoral Intensive Research Awareness Experience in STEM Program for Caribbean Hispanic Students”

The Doctoral Intensive Research Awareness Experience (DIRAE) Program will expand study abroad opportunities in STEM disciplines by preparing Caribbean Hispanic students with the necessary research skills to develop a successful doctoral dissertation through guidance, mentoring, and collaboration from faculty. It will be used as a mechanism to increase the participants’ chances to succeed in a STEM doctoral program and provide them better academic skills when pursuing advanced degrees in the U.S. Through the proposed collaboration, Universidad Politécnica de Puerto Rico will broaden participation of students within the region in study abroad, as well as provide a networking opportunity between potential doctoral students and faculty.

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The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund is a public-private collaboration of the White House, U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators announced by Secretary of State John Kerry in January 2014.  Since then, 70 Innovation Fund grants have been awarded to teams of 153 higher education institutions from 19 countries in the Western Hemisphere.

The mission of Partners of the Americas is to connect people and organizations across borders to serve and to change lives through lasting partnerships. These partnerships create opportunity, foster understanding, and solve real-life problems. Inspired by President Kennedy and founded in 1964 under the Alliance for Progress, Partners is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization with international offices in Washington, DC. Learn more at www.partners.net or via Twitter @partnersamerica.

With nearly 10,000 members, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world’s largest nonprofit professional association dedicated to international education. Learn more at www.nafsa.org and www.connectingourworld.org and on Twitter at @NAFSA and @ConnectOurWorld.

Campus Puerto Rico is a public and private collaboration that promotes Puerto Rico as an ideal destination for Spanish speakers wishing to study in a U.S. accredited institution while learning English without postponing a degree. It has a robust, U.S.-accredited educational system with 54 institutions, organized in 141 campuses all around the island, offering 5,339 programs including 105 doctoral, 770 masters, 1,242 bachelor’s, 746 associate, 146 first professional degrees and 2,330 technical professional certifications. It offers an affordable study abroad opportunity, in Spanish, within the legal and educational framework of the U.S. Learn more about Campus Puerto Rico at www.campuspuertorico.pr.gov or via Twitter and Facebook at Campus Puerto Rico and @CampusPtoRico.

Follow the Innovation Fund and the overall initiative on Twitter with the hashtag #100KStrongAmericas.

PRESS CONTACTS:
Michelle Nicholson            
mnicholson@partners.net        
(202) 637-6215                

Rebecca Morgan
rebeccam@nafsa.org
202) 495-2553