100,000 Strong in the Americas

An international collaboration on entrepreneurship and design

Mia Rossi,

Northampton Community College (NCC) has been selected by the U.S. Department of State and Partners of the Americas as one of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grant winners. The Innovation Fund grant is sponsored by Cementos Progreso and the U.S. Department of State.

Innovation Fund grants fuel strategic new partnerships among higher education institutions in the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere to create innovative and sustainable student exchange and training programs. Since its inception in January 2014, the Innovation Fund grants have been building institutional capacity, increasing student mobility within the Americas, and enhancing regional education cooperation.

This is the third time that NCC has been offered this grant, awarded in 2014, 2017 and now in 2019. This year’s NCC—ITCA Global Challenge Initiative is a unique hybrid study abroad program that leverages benefits of challenge-based virtual exchange programs with in-person short-term study abroad. The program builds on an existing partnership with ITCA-FEPADE a technical school in Santa Telca, El Salvador.

 “We live in a global society---we only need step outside our doors to see that,” Carpenter says, “The college has a substantial study abroad program---we send students around the world every year on study abroad programs. This project, though, is a recognition that we can deeply engage in global education without boarding a plane. The project helps students understand that local challenges that they face are tied to larger global issues, and that they have the power and agency to develop solutions to local problems and, in doing so, are able to meaningfully engage in much larger global conversations.”

The program is led by Assistant Professor of Geography at NCC, Anita Forrester. She is working with faculty at ITCA to create a virtual exchange module that ties entrepreneurship and design thinking to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students from NCC and ITCA will work together on local challenges or problems that have global implications or significance. The goal is to design a module that can be used in classes across the curriculum.

The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund is the dynamic public-private sector collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, corporations, foundations, U.S. Embassies, and universities.  It’s goal is to stimulate partnerships, increase academic exchange and training programs, and strengthen regional education cooperation.