Winning Institutions of 100,000 Strong in the Americas Funding Announced at the Summit of the Americas

Panama City, Panama, April 10, 2015 --( Thursday, at the Summit of the Americas, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the winners of the Santander Bank-sponsored competition of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund. The nine winning institutions involve university partnerships between the United States and Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, and Paraguay. Winners will be celebrated at a reception on April 10 at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Earl S. Tupper Research and Conference Center in Panama City, Panama. The reception, hosted by Partners of the Americas and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, will honor current strategic commitments to the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund including: CAF Development Bank of Latin America, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Exxon Mobil Foundation, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation, Santander Bank, and Sempra International.

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 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.

This is the second round of four grant competitions sponsored by Santander Bank, N.A. through Santander Universities. This competition was open to higher education institutions in all countries throughout the Western Hemisphere and to all fields of study. The winning institutions will create new innovative partnerships that will increase student mobility to and from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States.

“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.”

“Interest by colleges and universities in applying for support through the Innovation Fund is so high that we are only able to fund 10% of the proposals we receive,” said Steve Vetter, President and CEO of Partners of the Americas. “100,000 Strong in the Americas continues to demonstrate the desire of institutions to overcome their barriers and work together to build the globally and culturally competent workforce companies increasingly demand. The sponsor of this round, Santander Bank, has long been a leader in this area.”

“The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund offers the most sustainable method to exponentially grow study abroad,” said NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson. “By challenging institutions to expand and develop their bold ideas to make study abroad the norm, not the exception, this initiative is building tomorrow’s generation of global leaders more effectively than ever before.”

Winning Institutions of the Santander Round of Innovation Grant Funding Include:

California State University, Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, US
Partner: Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (Costa Rica)

In partnership with Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, California State University, Los Angeles will develop a program that aims to foster global citizenship, civic engagement, and global competencies of undergraduate students from interdisciplinary majors, especially in the field of social work, through service learning. The program will specifically target and increase the number of underrepresented minority students, including first generation Latino/a students studying abroad in Latin America. Through a service learning project in Costa Rica, students will be exposed to new models of community engagement and in the process, develop cultural sensitivity and intercultural awareness.

Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, Illinois, US
Partners: Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador (El Salvador), Universidad Católica de El Salvador (El Salvador), Instituto Tecnológica CentroAmericano (El Salvador)

Through the InCaMPUSES program, Northeastern Illinois University and its partners will target minority, low-income, and first generation students for an opportunity to spend two weeks at the host institution, where they will be exposed to a unique international academic experience. Students will take a research class focusing on the comparison of higher educational systems between the United States and El Salvador, as well as visit different types of institutions in the host country. All students will then participate in a research symposium in both countries during which they will present their individual as well as shared research with colleagues and faculty.

Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, US
Partner: Universidad de las Artes (Cuba)

With experience currently offering summer study abroad programs in Cuba, Northwestern University plans to strengthen its institutional relationship with Cuban institutions by expanding on mobility between the countries, especially among low-income students, through long-term student engagement and faculty collaborations. Through the program, U.S. students focusing on public health and the arts will travel to Cuba to gain exposure to the Cuban culture and society, and its public health system. Additionally, the program includes a faculty exchange, where in Northwestern faculty members in public health and the humanities will travel to Cuba to facilitate intellectual partnerships between Northwestern and universities in Havana, and to consider development of future study abroad programming.

Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, US
Partner: Universidad Alberto Hurtado (Chile)

Project LEARN-Chile, a result of collaboration between Texas State University and Universidad Alberto Hurtado, aims to create opportunities for U.S. doctoral students in education and social science to advance their skills in international educational research through fieldwork. The program will offer a seminar course for students to conduct an intensive 10-day long field research experience in Chile under a service-learning paradigm that uses synergy across a local university partner, five community organizations focused on educational improvement, and two corporate partners. The students’ fieldwork will culminate in a roundtable event hosted at Universidad Alberto Hurtado that will examine the unique educational priorities of the differing community partners and identify points of possible collaboration and create next steps to advance determined priorities.

University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, California, US
Partners: Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (Mexico), UCSD-UABC Health Frontiers in Tijuana, HFiT (Mexico)

Through a joint effort between the University of California, San Diego, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, and UCSD-UABC Health Frontiers in Tijuana, a student-run free clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, medical, masters, and doctoral level clinical psychology students from partnering institutions will participate in academic and experiential learning activities focused on global mental health. The combined experience of the Healthy Minds, Resilient Communities program, which encompasses two new academic mental health courses at the UCSD and UABC campuses, training sessions at the HFiT Clinic, and service projects in Tijuana will allow students to learn about mental health in the context of ongoing trauma, poverty, displacement, and chronic health conditions, as well the importance of culturally competent mental health services and interventions for vulnerable populations living in such conditions.

University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
Partners: Universidad La Salle (Mexico), Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (Mexico)

The Innovation Academy for Women in the Americas is a unique program that will facilitate the academic and career advancement of women, particularly from underrepresented, minority, and indigenous groups in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Architecture (STEM+A) by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and support to ascend to higher level research and senior leadership roles in the workforce. The Academy will operate under a model that creates global exposure through education abroad that focuses on the development of academic, research, and professional skills, coupled with on-going mentorship and support to students.

Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, US
Partners: Universidad de Guadalajara (Mexico), Benemerita Autónoma Universidad de Puebla (Mexico)

Virginia Commonwealth University will expand on its state-of-the-art global education living-learning program, VCU Globe, to include reciprocal student exchanges with its two partner universities. The program will provide undergraduate students in all disciples with intercultural learning experiences while abroad through: shared living facilities where co-curricular activities provide opportunities for sustained, intercultural communication (Global Living); specialized coursework in intercultural competence, global leadership, and related topics (Global Education); and service alongside colleagues of other cultures with the local host community for a minimum of 40 hours (Global Engagement).

West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia, US
Partner: Universidad Nacional de Asunción (Paraguay)

With a focus in the areas of energy, water quality, waste management, environment and economy, West Virginia University’s program will increase student and faculty mobility between WVU’s College of Agriculture and Resource Economics, and UNA’s Economics, Management and Accounting, Faculty of Economics. Students will attend special seminars in the related themes, travel to prominent sites in the field for first-hand observations, as well as participate in hands-on training in new and advanced technologies at the respective campuses’ ICT centers. Furthermore, using a corporate sponsor’s media platform, WeSpeke, WVU will maintain connectivity between students across the Americas by providing the means for intercultural interactions with their counterparts, allowing students to discuss issues in resource economics, design scenarios, and partner with each other on problem-solving exercises.

Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, US
Partner: Universidad Nacional de Tucumán (Argentina)

Northern Arizona University will initiate a long-term bilateral exchange with Universidad Nacional de Tucumán through a program that provides geology and energy policy-focused students the opportunity to take a field course in an international setting. The program will consist of a classroom/virtual portion, during which students will prepare academically through distance webinar courses to learn about study sites in Arizona and northern Argentina as well as meet their counterparts, followed by travel to various locations in Arizona and Argentina, where students will learn energy issues and challenges through the local context of the host community and country. Through the program, students in geology and energy will learn to collaborate effectively across linguistic and cultural borders within the Americas and begin to develop the broad research networks needed to address regional and global challenges in their respective disciplines.

The following winner is supported by the Coca-Cola Foundation:

Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, US
Partner: Universidad De La Salle Bajio (Mexico)

In a collaborative effort to expose university students from the U.S. and Mexico to the challenges of migration and its impact on personal and community health, Western Michigan University and Universidad De La Salle Bajio’s program will bring students from both universities to rural communities in Mexico and migrant communities in Michigan to gain insight into the Mexican immigrant experience, particularly as it relates to nutrition. After exploring issues of migration, cultural influences, and community health, through field visits, students will contextualize their observations, interactions, and overall experience by participating in community service activities with local organizations in the host community, where they will work with community members to explore issues of nutrition, traditional cooking, and exercise.

Learn more about 100,000 Strong in the Americas at or using the hashtag #100KStrongAmericas. The April 10 reception at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Earl S. Tupper Research and Conference Center in Panama City, Panama is open press. Press may register to attend by emailing

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. Since launching the Innovation Fund in January, 2014, the Innovation Network has grown to 1,300 higher education institutions. Of these institutions, 490 universities from 28 countries have applied for Innovation Fund Grants. To date, a total of 48 grants have been awarded to teams of 110 higher education institutions from 16 countries in the Western Hemisphere region.

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 or via Twitter @partnersamerica.

With more than 10,000 members, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world's largest nonprofit professional association dedicated to international education. Learn more about our work at and and on Twitter at @NAFSA and @ConnectOurWorld.

Santander Bank, N.A. is one of the largest retail banks in the United States by deposits. Its main corporate offices are in Boston and it operates principally in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Santander’s 9,703 employees serve its 1.8 million customers through the Bank’s 703 branches, 2,092 ATMs, call centers, website and mobile app. Supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Santander in the United States is a wholly-owned, financially autonomous subsidiary of Banco Santander (NYSE: SAN), a global commercial and retail bank. For more information about Santander, visit or call 877-768-2265.

Santander Universities was founded in 1996 to advance the Santander Group’s commitment to its communities by supporting higher education. It provides funding for teaching and research, international cooperation, knowledge and technology transfer, entrepreneurial initiatives, student exchange and innovation. It maintains more than 1,100 agreements with universities and research centers worldwide, including 35 in the United States through Santander Bank. Since 1996, Santander Universities has provided funding for 4,100 university projects globally. Every year in the United States, Santander Universities funds more than 1,000 scholarships and supports over 70 initiatives. For more information about Santander Universities, visit

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems. Website:
Partners of the Americas
Michelle Nicholson