Partners of the Americas Goes Global With New Grants Program to Expand Diversity in Study Abroad

Janira Romero Reyes, Program Officer, Higher Education

Following the great success of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, which has distributed 78 study abroad grants to 168 higher education institutions (HEIs) from 20 countries in the Western Hemisphere, there was much interest in scaling this funding model to a global level. Thanks to the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Partners of the Americas administered its first global program – Capacity Building Grants for U.S. Undergraduate Study Abroad earlier in 2016.

The purpose of this global program is to empower HEIs to administer study abroad programs with an emphasis on diversity/diversification goals. These goals include broadening the student population who studies abroad and/or the destinations and disciplines in which they study. While all types of institutions are encouraged to apply, the grant program seeks to empower and build institutional capacity of minority serving institutions (MSIs), single-person offices, and community colleges. This program encourages HEIs to target students currently underrepresented in study abroad, including first-generation college/university students, students of diverse race or ethnic backgrounds, students with disabilities, and students in underrepresented disciplines.

During the first competition, over 170 HEIs ranging from all types of institutions submitted proposals. Program types also varied from short-term faculty-led, to semester-long virtual and experiential learning in-country. In May of 2016, 18 HEIs were selected as Capacity Building Grant recipients. Read about their study abroad programs’ areas of focus below.


Upper level courses for junior and senior students

Worcester Polytechnic Institute will create a program for junior and senior students in biology, biotechnology, fire protection engineering, environmental and sustainability studies seeking to complete the institution’s required projects.

The University of Pittsburgh will provide students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work an upper division courses in healthcare and social services through their International Field Placement Program.


Ethnic minority students & gender participation in STEM

Lincoln University, a historically black university, will target underrepresented, under-prepared, minority students studying STEM majors to participate in international research centers in the Caribbean.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College will work with Corozal Junior College in Belize and Leshan Normal University in China, to increase participation of male, Latino, African American, and Native American students in health, sustainability, and information technology majors.

Middlesex Community College, an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution, will establish its first International Business Fellowship program in northern Africa.

Virginia Polytechnic and State University will establish a STEM exchange program with institutions in South, East or West Africa.

Iowa State University will partner with Xi’an Jiaotong University in China to create a self-sustained engineering specific program.

St. Louis College of Pharmacy will expand geographic diversity by partnering with institutions in Asia to target rural, male students in the pharmacy profession.

Purdue University will diversify the participation of STEM students going abroad by specifically targeting ROTC, women, and minority students on campus.


Faculty-led, service & experiential learning programs

Jackson State University will strengthen its four-week international experience with organized cultural, research, and experiential learning activities.

Davidson County Community College will conduct a two-week service learning program in Guatemala specifically targeting students in nursing, business and early childhood education.

Murray State University will create the “Education Abroad Fellows”, allowing selected faculty to match their current STEM courses with that of partner institutions courses to create faculty-led programs.

Highline College, jointly with Tacoma Community College, will partner with Shanghai Jiao Tong University to develop an immersive short-term cultural and business program to China.


Establishing its first Study Abroad Office

Shepherd University will establish its first full-time study abroad office and create courses in music, theater, liberal arts and business in Mexico, Japan, and Cuba.

Windward will launch its own study abroad program to create two new short-term programs in New Zealand and the U.K. designed specifically for Windward students in any discipline.


Blended Online

State University of New York at Cobleskill will create an innovative program with its partners at Universidad La Salle, Mexico using the COIL platform to provide graphic design and agriculture business courses.

Pitzer College will create a six-week distance-learning and in-country summer program in Vietnam and Brazil for language and cultural immersion.

The University of North Texas will expand its Eagles Abroad Initiative – a hybrid study abroad model that combines faculty-led and direct enrollment program in the fields of kinesiology, biology, business and psychology.


Congratulations to all higher education institutions that were awarded Capacity Building Grants this competition round! Interested in expanding study abroad at your institution? Stay tuned for future rounds…