On March 2, the 2017 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) will open to alumni of exchange programs, including Community College Initiative (CCI) participants. The annual AEIF project competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is a chance for teams of three or more exchange alumni to propose innovative projects that tackle global issues. Each winning team is eligible to win up to $25,000 to support their project, and CCI alumni have had a history of success in securing AEIF grants.
Just a few years ago, CCI alumni Benjamin Kanligi and Stephen Saan-Ire from Ghana won the 2014 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund for their project, Techie Skills. During the 2011-12 program year, Kanligi studied at Edmond’s Community College and Saan-Ire studied at Gadsden State Community College, where they both developed a desire to bring what they learned in the U.S. back to their country.
Techie Skills is a community service initiative designed to improve IT and entrepreneurial skills for youth in underserved communities in the Upper West Region of Ghana. By teaching IT and business skills to the young people in the community, Techie Skills aims to reduce the rate of unemployment in Ghana by giving trainees practical skills and providing an opportunity for them to gain real-world experience through internships.
Kanligi claims that his participation in the CCI Program played a big role in motivating him to apply for the AEIF opportunity, and he says the CCI Program’s emphasis on service learning was a motivating factor for Techie Skills.
“Community service through volunteering is one of the things that I admired a lot during my stay in the United States” … “The Techie Skills training project is a volunteer based community service program, and it’s a way to give back to my community after returning home from the CCI program in the USA.”
Other CCI alumni have also had success with the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund.
Amin Muhammad’s project, Youth Eye Citizen Journalist, was one of the winners of the 2013 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund. As a 2010-11 CCI participant, Amin Muhammad studied at Madison Area Technical College where he worked with community access television stations and became inspired to pass on what he had learned to his home community in Pakistan.
The purpose of his project, Youth Eye, was to train and engage proactive youth in Citizen Journalism through a two week long course. By getting local citizens to collect, share, and analyze local news and information, the Youth Eye project aimed to create engaged journalists and active citizens. Aside from providing visual communication to Hunza valley (an area that does not have access to mainstream media), another goal of Youth Eye was to train local youth about how to develop television content that addresses issues related to inequality and social injustice, among other topics. Some of the participants in Amin’s course have even gone on to become contributing reporters for local news outlets.
Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund projects are collaborative efforts, and we encourage exchange alumni from different years, countries, and exchange programs to join together to tackle global issues.
To learn more about the 2017 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund, including themes, deadlines, and how to apply, visit: https://alumni.state.gov/aeif