VCU Globe receives “100,000 Strong in the Americas”
RICHMOND, Va. (April 24, 2015)—Virginia Commonwealth University is one of nine universities from around the U.S., Canada and Latin America to win a “100,000 Strong in the Americas” Innovation Grant in the amount of $25,000. The award, given by the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators was announced by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City on April 9.
VCU received the award for its project that will expand on the state–of–the–art global education living–learning program, VCU Globe, to include reciprocal student exchanges with its two partner universities, Universidad de Guadalajara (UdG) and Benemerita Autónoma Universidad de Puebla (BUAP), both in Mexico. Through this grant, students at all three universities will collaborate with global peers as they complete community service projects abroad, receive language instruction and gain experience as cultural brokers by leading peers in service projects within their home communities.
“VCU is committed to preparing our students to live and work in an increasingly globalized society,” said R. McKenna Brown, Ph.D., Global Education Office executive director. “The ‘100,000 Strong in the Americas’ initiative is a great example of our integrated approach to providing a global experience to our students. It is essential that students not only have an opportunity to study abroad, but that they also have authentic, intercultural interactions that enrich their experiences.”
Grant funds will build the infrastructure needed to permit the first ever BUAP students to study at VCU, enroll in the intensive English Language Program, and collaborate with VCU Globe students in projects serving the growing Mexican community (and other communities) in Richmond, Virginia. Funding will also allow greater access to study abroad programs at the UdG and BUAP for VCU Globe students who could not otherwise participate due to barriers of financial constraints, scheduling conflicts and demands related degree completion time.
“We’re so glad that our program can serve as an international model for providing these reciprocal intercultural opportunities for undergraduates," said Jill Blondin, Ph.D., VCU Globe director. “This grant will enable us to provide meaningful service experiences in the United States and Mexico for both VCU and Mexican students.”
According to Partners of the Americas, President Barack Obama’s goal for “100,000 Strong in the Americas is to increase the number of U.S. students studying in the Western Hemisphere to 100,000, and the number of students from Latin America and the Caribbean studying in the United States to 100,000 by the year 2020. The initiative enhances hemispheric competitiveness, increases prosperity, and prepares a more globally competent workforce.
The “100,000 Strong in the Americas” Innovation Grant is sponsored by Santander Bank. “Congratulations to the winners of the Santander Bank Round of the Innovation Grant Funding,” said Roman Blanco, CEO, Santander Bank, N.A. “We are delighted to have creative program proposals that will help to increase student exchanges between the United States and countries in the Western Hemisphere. For today’s new generation of leaders, a global perspective is essential. The awards demonstrate that higher education institutions are inspired to meet the challenges of academic exchanges and will work collaboratively with transnational colleagues to do so.” The nine winning institutions involve university partnerships between the United States and Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico and Paraguay.