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The Innovation Fund Announces New Grant Winning Partnerships between the United States and Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador

October 30, 2019, Guatemala City, Guatemala: The U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, and Partners of the Americas announce new grant winning teams in the latest Innovation Fund competition sponsored by Cementos Progreso and the U.S. Department of State.

The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund is the public-private sector collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassies, and Partners of the Americas working with companies, foundations, and academic networks to support higher education partnerships between the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.  The Innovation Fund is the trusted, flexible mechanism in this signature hemispheric-wide education initiative that inspires U.S. universities and colleges to work with higher education institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean to build institutional capacity, create new academic exchange and training programs, and strengthen regional education cooperation in the Americas.  

Innovation Fund partnerships provide critical access to students to participate in tailored academic exchange and training programs and to work in teams to solve real-world problems, conduct research, and gain technical skills for today’s workforce.  As of October 2019, the Innovation Fund has awarded 232 grants to 477 teams of universities and colleges in 25 countries and 47 U.S. States.

This Innovation Fund grant competition, sponsored by Cementos Progreso and the U.S. Department of State, will provide eight grants of $25,000 each to support new partnerships between universities and colleges in the United States and higher education institutions in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

These eight Innovation Fund partnerships will create new academic exchange and training programs in the areas of Environmental Studies, Water Management, Natural Resource Management, Ecology, and Sustainability that will address solutions to environmental issues and challenges.

“For Cementos Progreso, it has been a great pleasure to support the initiative of the United States Department of State, the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, aimed at generating more and better opportunities for the people and universities of this hemisphere. We strongly believe in the value of these kind of initiatives, which are a central mechanism to promote relationships and collaboration between the higher education community in the United States and the rest of the Americas. It also gives us great satisfaction that, with our contribution, this initiative has been expanded and will now also benefit people in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. This initiative will allow Cementos Progreso to continue contributing to the construction of the country where we all want to live, together,” said Mario Montano, Chairman of the Board of Cementos Progreso.

“Our alliance with Cementos Progreso for the Innovation Fund will create new sustainable development models through academic exchanges between higher education institutions in the United States with universities in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. These dynamic alliances between public and private partnerships increase economic development and offer new training opportunities to students, preparing them to enter the job market. This effort is vital to highlight the power of education to transform societies and promote prosperity. We are especially happy that Guatemala is now the leading country in all of Central America to partner with U.S. universities through the Innovation Fund,” said Luis E. Arreaga, United States Ambassador to Guatemala.

Innovation Fund teams sponsored by Cementos Progreso and the U.S. Department of State are:

Escuela Agrícola Panamericana Zamorano, San Antonio de Oriente, Francisco de Morazán, Honduras
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States

Monitoring, Prevention and Treatment of Agricultural Non-Point Pollution in Drinking Water in Honduras

The partnership between Zamorano University and Cornell University will provide students with a deeper understanding of the causes of agricultural non-point pollution in drinking water sources in Central America. Students will meet with Honduran farmers in communities that provide drinking water, conduct site visits, and perform water sample analyses to test for the presence of pesticides and other pollutants. Student participants will use the knowledge gained through the program to present prevention and treatment alternatives to farmers and carry out trainings on best management practices and watershed management.

Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, United States
Universidad Rafael Landívar, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Environmental Justice: A Partnership between Illinois State University and Universidad Rafael Landívar

Illinois State University (ISU) and the Universidad Rafael Landívar (URL) have partnered to create a faculty and student exchange program that will add a global dimension in the area of environmental justice to the legal and criminal studies programs at both universities. While at URL, ISU students and faculty will visit important Guatemalan legal institutions, observe mock trials regarding environmental legal conflict, and participate in laboratories. While visiting ISU, URL students and faculty will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, course observations, and field visits to organizations working on environmental justice.

Northampton Community College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States
Escuela Especializada en Ingenería ITCA Fepade, Santa Tecla, El Salvador

 NCC—ITCA Global Challenge Initiative

The NCC—ITCA Global Challenge Initiative connects students from Northampton Community College (NCC) and the Escuela Especializada en Ingenería ITCA Fepade (ITCA) in a collaborative, challenge-based program that combines in-class virtual exchanges with in-country teambuilding, public presentations, and curriculum-driven cultural immersion. The initiative will develop a hybrid challenge-based exchange module that can integrate with existing NCC courses, piloting the new module simultaneously in one NCC and one ITCA course, and presenting the selected challenge and solution to an international audience.

Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, United States
Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Freshwater Ecology in the Great Lakes and Guatemala: Promoting Sustainability in an Era of Global Change

Oakland University and the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala will work to create programs that allow students to pursue research in freshwater ecology and the effect of human activity on the health of ecosystems in Guatemala and the United States. Students from both institutions will perform fieldwork, directed research, learn about the role of freshwater resources in the environment, and gain understanding of the many environmental threats these habitats face. Students will also collaborate with indigenous individuals and communities to learn about their approaches to addressing climate change. The program aims to contribute to the development of public education and scientific networks in the two countries.

Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, United States  

Working Together Towards a Better Environment and Inclusive Solutions: Student Exchange Program in Environmental Studies and Sustainability

This program will provide the opportunity to build competencies and use design thinking to address real environmental and sustainability challenges in Guatemala to a group of multidisciplinary students from the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG) and Vanderbilt University (VU). Students from UVG will visit San Cristobal El Alto in Guatemala to produce a map of need regarding waste management, water sanitation, and energy. UVG and VU students will use the information gathered during their field research to co-develop intervention approaches, which they will present to the community of San Cristobal El Alto. 

Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Aguadilla, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, United States
Universidad Mariano Gálvez de Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Future Social Workers Connect through Global Action Exchange Program

The Future Social Workers Connect Through Global Action Program is a student and faculty exchange opportunity that aims to reduce vulnerability due to climate change and increase psycho-emotional resilience among communities impacted by natural disasters. Students pursuing social work from the Universidad Inter Americana de Puerto Rico, Aguadilla and the Universidad Mariano Gálvez de Guatemala will have the opportunity to engage in cooperative learning, comparative study, and social work practice as it relates to climate change adaptation and resilience. This will result in a student-led action project and symposium with the communities impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the Fuego Volcano eruption in Guatemala.

University of California, Riverside, Riverside, California, United States
Universidad Tecnológica de Honduras, San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Educational Campaigns for Environmental Studies and Sustainability

The collaboration between the University of California, Riverside and the Universidad Tecnológica de Honduras focuses on applied concepts and cutting-edge practices within the environmental studies and sustainability fields. Participants will explore key concepts, challenges, and innovations in natural resource management, specifically as they apply to the water treatment industry in the United States.  The program will include units on air pollution monitoring and developing sustainable natural resource policies. Participants will gain a greater understanding of key technologies, innovations, and practices to ensure the safe and sustainable use of natural resources for entire communities.

University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, United States
Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Americas for Forest and EcoHealth:   A4FEH

The Americas for Forest and EcoHealth (A4FEH), an exchange program between the University of Vermont (UVM) and the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC), is a partnership that will provide students from both universities experiences to address the real-world problem of forest restoration, build technical and linguistic skills, and engage in cross-institution, international teamwork. Students from USAC will work with faculty and student mentors from UVM and students from UVM will collaborate with service-learning partners in Guatemala to address the intersection of human and forest ecosystem health and take a course on reforestation and epidemiology.


The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund is the dynamic public-private sector collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassies, Partners of the Americas, companies, foundations, NGOs, and regional government partners working with academic networks to stimulate and support new higher education institutional partnerships between the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.

Since its inception in 2014, the Innovation Fund has become the trusted flexible mechanism to support this hemispheric-wide education initiative to build connectivity, enhance institutional capacity, increase student exchange and training opportunities, and strengthen regional education cooperation throughout the Americas.   As of October 2019, the Innovation Fund has awarded 232 grants to 477 teams of universities and colleges in 25 countries and in 47 U.S. states.  Currently, over 2,100 higher education institutions have joined the Innovation Network — with 1,200 universities and colleges in the United States.

JOIN and LEARN more: www.100kstrongamericas.org  //   Follow: #100KStrongAmericas

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 non-profit, non-partisan organization with international offices in Washington, DC. Learn more at www.partners.net or via Twitter @partnersamerica.

Cementos Progreso is a Guatemalan company that has been in operations for 120 years.  Throughout its history it has striven to be an excellent corporate citizen aiming at capturing economic, social and environmental values to achieve sustainability, through the implementation of a set of strong values and principles. Cementos Progreso is characterized by its modern industrial process, its high environmental standards and the respect towards the communities in which it operates. It has been recognized as one of the best places to work in Guatemala and Central America by the Best Place to Work Institute, as one of the 128 most ethical companies in the world by the Ethisphere Institute and as a company of excellence on workplace health and safety by the British Safety Council. Cementos Progreso has contributed to the social and economic development of Guatemala though its corporate social responsibility commitment, its philanthropic work and the production of quality and innovative products and building solutions. The Company considers the human element key for achieving sustainable development. Cementos Progreso is committed to the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund to support the creation of more institutional capacity that would allow Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to thrive and be more prosperous societies.   More on Cementos Progreso is available at www.cempro.com.

Press contact: Rachel Falek | rfalek@partners.net