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NCC Receives 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund Award

ExxonMobil Funds New Higher Education Partnerships

Northampton Community College (NCC) has been selected by the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Professor Kelly Allen, founder of NCC's East 40 Community GardenEducators as one of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grant winners sponsored by ExxonMobil Corporation. The goal of 100,000 Strong in the Americas, the leading education initiative in the Western Hemisphere, is to increase the annual number of U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean to 100,000, and bring 100,000 students to the United States by 2020.

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 and competiveness.

This is the second time NCC has been awarded the grant. In 2014, it enabled students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics to participate in a summer study abroad program devoted to bringing sustainable energy systems to a remote area of Peru.

"I'm especially pleased that NCC continues to be part of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative," Dr. Christine Pense, dean of humanities and social sciences at NCC, said.  

The 2017 grant will be used to send students, faculty and staff to Columbia to study sustainable food production methods in use there, and to share models that are being used in NCC's East 40 Community Garden. Kelly Allen, associate professor of English and founder of the community garden, will lead the study abroad trip.

"Since our first grant, which focused on sustainable energy in Peru, we have added sustainable food production to our campus activities," added Dr. Pense. "We will be immeasurably enriched by the opportunity to learn from cultures and communities in the Americas with a long history of success in these areas.  We also plan to share our well-developed models of low-cost and high-impact study abroad programs."

This is the third in four of Innovation Fund grant competitions supported by ExxonMobil. With a commitment in 2014 of $1,000,000, ExxonMobil has facilitated 24 new higher education partnerships to date. These new partnerships between 24 U.S. universities and community colleges in 16 U.S. states and 28 higher education institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, and Mexico are providing more dynamic exchange and training opportunities for students in engineering, physics, geology, and geophysics.

"The 100,000 Strong initiative strengthens academic disciplines that will help drive the energy industry into the 21st century,"͟ said Ben Soraci, ExxonMobil general manager of public and government affairs. "͞We hope 100,000 Strong will increase the number of qualified students who pursue a career in the energy industry.͟"

The seven Innovation Fund grants announced today for higher education institutions in the United States, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico will continue groundbreaking exchange programs that allow students to work in teams, gain technical skills, and become more competent for the global 21st century workforce. Innovation Fund grants are $25,000 each, and grant-winning university teams contribute additional resources to leverage and implement unique short-term study abroad programs in the Western Hemisphere. With these new partnership awards, approximately 150 more students will be able to participate in study abroad programs in the United States, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.

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.  

Since its inception in January 2014, a total of 93 Innovation Fund grants have been awarded to teams of 205 higher education institutions from 20 countries in the Western Hemisphere region. Innovation Fund partnerships between universities in the United States and higher education institutions in the Western Hemisphere are increasing more student exchange opportunities and strengthening regional education cooperation throughout 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. 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

With 10,000 members world-wide, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the largest non-profit professional association dedicated to international education program and policy. Learn more at

ExxonMobil Corporation, the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, uses technology and innovation to help meet the world's growing energy needs. ExxonMobil engages in a range of philanthropic activities that advance education, with a focus on math and science in the United States, promote women as catalysts for economic development, and combat malaria. In 2015, together with its employees and retirees, ExxonMobil, its divisions and affiliates, and the ExxonMobil Foundation provided $268 million in contributions worldwide. Additional information on ExxonMobil's community partnerships and contribution programs is available at

With an enduring commitment to the regional community it serves and a focus on student success, Northampton Community College has developed a reputation as an institution of extraordinary distinction, earning accolades at the state and national levels for innovative programs, outstanding faculty and impressive student achievements. It counts among its successful alumni a four-time Pulitzer Prize winner and an Academy Award winning director as well as a host of CEOs, presidents, and leaders of business and industry. Today, Northampton Community College has locations in Bethlehem, Southside Bethlehem, and Monroe County, serving more than 30,000 students each year from 53 counties, 48 countries and 25 states. Learn more at