The annual Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) project competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and provides small grants to teams of U.S. government-sponsored exchange alumni to carry out public service projects using the skills and knowledge they gained during their exchange experiences.
Since it began in 2011, AEIF has supported more than 360 alumni-led initiatives around the world, and throughout AEIF’s history, more than 15 CCI alumni have either led or been a part of a winning team. CCI AEIF projects have created innovative solutions to address global challenges, and we hope these CCI winning projects will inspire all exchange alumni to submit their own project proposal for the AEIF 2018 competition.
Increasing Civic Engagement in Pakistan
In AEIF’s second competition year, a group of CCI alumni from Pakistan won an AEIF 2012 award for their project “Emerge Pakistan: Empowering Women Youth and Other Minorities in the Democratic Process.” The “Emerge Pakistan” project achieved its goal of empowering women and minorities as successful civic activists by providing them with the skills to increase their participation in the democratic process at the local and community level.
The 10-member alumni team created a robust curriculum program to train 30 women in the Sukkur district of Pakistan through the creation of 4 student governing boards. All of the boards came together as the Young Women Leaders Parliament for 12 training conferences on topics such as public speaking, parliamentary procedure, community organizing, and fundraising. Through these conferences, women leaders were able to share ideas, network, and develop action plans to tackle social problems facing women in their communities.
Youth Empowerment Projects in Costa Rica and Pakistan
In 2013, CCI alumna Ana Lucia Miranda-Cole (Costa Rica, City College of San Francisco, Media, 2010-11) had the honor of being a part of the first group of exchange alumni from Costa Rica to win an AEIF award. The goal of the project she was involved with, “Youth Ambassadors (Jovenes Embajadores)”, was to work with at-risk youth in Heredia, Costa Rica to improve their lives through sports, education, and soft-skills training. The team used their AEIF 2013 grant funds from 2013 to 2015 to support their project and help enhance the lives of young people in their home community.
That same competition year, CCI alumnus Amin Muhammad (Pakistan, Madison Area Technical College, Media, 2010-11) also won an AEIF 2013 grant for his project “Youth Eye Citizen Journalist.” Amin worked with community access television stations during his CCI exchange year, and became inspired to pass on what he had learned to his home community in Pakistan. The AEIF competition provided an opportunity to do just that. The purpose of his project 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. Some of the participants in Amin’s course even went on to become contributing reporters for local news outlets.
Expanding Information Technology Skills in Ghana
During the AEIF 2014 competition year, CCI alumnus Stephen Saan-Ire (Ghana, Gadsden State Community College, Information Technology, 2011-12) led a team of four other CCI alumni from Ghana and South Africa to submit their proposal for the project, “Techie Skills.” Their winning project was a community service initiative designed to provide young people in Ghana with opportunities to develop information technology skills, and thereby reduce the rate of unemployment in Ghana. From 2013 to 2016, Techie Skills helped train over 300 young people, including small business owners.
Laying the Foundation for a “Girls Club” in Egypt
In its most recent competition year, CCI alumnus Waleed Rashwan (Egypt, Northcentral Technical College, Business, 2009-10) won an AEIF 2017 award for his project “Empowering Girls Through Sports (Girls Club)”. Girls Club, which aims to empower girls through education, sports, workshops on communication, and leadership activities, will encourage civic engagement and build advocacy for girls’ and women’s rights. Waleed attributes the project management, grant proposal writing, and volunteer skills and experience he gained during his exchange year to the success of his proposal.
The Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund 2018 is open from March 1, 2018 – March 29, 2018. To learn more about AEIF 2018, including themes, deadlines, and how to apply, visit: https://alumni.state.gov/aeif