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USAID Grants Center $50 Million for SEED Program

February 9, 2009 – Georgetown University’s Center for Intercultural Education and Development (CIED) recently received a $50 million cooperative agreement from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that will allow it to administer a technical training program, called Scholarships for Education and Economic Development (SEED).

The five-year agreement will help the SEED program support economic and social development throughout Central America and the Caribbean by selecting students from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua to pursue specific job training in the United States.

Georgetown will partner with U.S. community colleges and universities to design and conduct tailored training programs for the students in various fields critical to the social and economic development of their countries including agriculture, business, economics and trade, education, health, information technologies, manufacturing and resource management. The students also will receive certificates from their designated community colleges or universities.

“This new program will provide critical training and education for students from economically disadvantaged and underserved populations in Central America and the Caribbean,” says CIED director Chantal Santelices. “We are thrilled to have been chosen to administer this important program that will enable SEED students to become leaders in their countries’ development.”

The SEED scholarship model incorporates technical training, leadership skills enhancement and English as a Second Language (ESL) all with a focus on civil society, volunteerism, free-market economy and democratic participation as practiced in the United States. The new program is the successor of CIED and USAID’s Cooperative Association of States for Scholarships (CASS) program, which provided technical and professional training to more than 6,000 low-income and rural students from Central America and the Caribbean.

“SEED will build on the substantial achievements of the CASS program, which was able to reach indigenous, rural and minority populations that other scholarship programs do not. In many cases, SEED participants will be the first from their community to attend college,” says Deborah Kennedy-Iraheta, acting assistant administrator of the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean at USAID. “We believe SEED will complement USAID initiatives in all sectors of development as it educates a new cadre of young leaders and professionals.”

SEED director Paul Silva believes the new program will have an even greater impact on developing communities in the region.

“I vividly remember one CASS participant, Jose de la Rosa, from the Dominican Republic, who studied HIV prevention and outreach through a six-month CASS program in Texas,” says Silva. “In his home country, Jose now works at a national level for the tuberculosis component of a USAID project.”

Silva says de la Rosa has helped train 3,500 health workers in tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention in more than 200 communities across the Dominican Republic.

“There are so many success stories like this one from CASS, and we hope to see very similar results for SEED,” adds Silva.

The first group of SEED students will begin their studies in August.

Interested students may apply for the SEED program through Georgetown’s CIED offices in each participating country. The deadline for applications is early March.

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