The Student Union Building as seen from the University Commons

Friday, June 1, 2018

The U.S. Department of StatePartners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators have awarded a 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grant to Northeastern Illinois University in partnership with Universidad del Atlántico and Universidad Simón Bolivar in Colombia.

The $25,000 grant will increase mobility, especially among underrepresented student populations, by collaborating on new student exchange models. Northeastern students will travel to the partner country to learn about peace education projects involving youth in Colombia, while Colombian students will travel to the U.S. to learn about community organizations in Chicago that address youth violence.

“It is both very exciting and humbling to be awarded this very competitive grant,” said Cris Toffolo, interim director of Northeastern’s Office of International Programs. “It will allow our faculty and students to collaborate on new approaches to work on the important issue of youth violence, and it will provide opportunities to go abroad for some students in both countries that typically would never get this opportunity. We hope this is only the beginning of a new long-term partnership.”

Ten Northeastern students will travel to Colombia in May 2019, and 10 will come to Chicago during spring break of 2019. Northeastern students will have an opportunity to apply to participate in this project in the fall.

“The 100,000 Strong grant will allow our team not only to explore the different ways that Colombia and Chicago are implementing peace education strategies in our communities, but will also give us the opportunity to look for innovative ways to continue promoting these ideas with more groups and organizations who share the same goal,” International Programs Coordinator Alejandra Prieto-Mendoza said.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the Colombian Institute of Educational Loans and Studies Abroad (ICETEX), the Innovation Fund inspires U.S. universities and colleges to team up with higher education institutions in Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada to create dynamic partnerships that will increase student exchange and training opportunities throughout the Americas. Innovation Fund partnerships construct bridges of connectivity and increase opportunities for students to gain new skills, work in teams, and become better prepared for the global workforce. This is the first time that ICETEX has sponsored an Innovation Fund grant competition in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Bogota.

The Innovation Fund is the public-private sector collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassies, Partners of the Americas, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, companies, and foundations that together support this signature education initiative for the Americas.

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.                                                                                           

With 10,000 members worldwide, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the largest non-profit professional association dedicated to international education programming and policy.

ICETEX is a Colombian public entity that promotes higher education through the granting of educational loans and its collection, with own resources or from third parties, populations with few economic resources and good academic performance.