The New York City-based Ford Foundation has announced a new commitment of $75 million to its International Fellowships Program, which works to broaden access to advanced study for people from some of the world's poorest communities and countries.
According to foundation officials, the additional support, which will fund the program through 2014, is based on positive results from the program's first five years, which show that a high proportion of fellows have achieved academic success and are returning home to take on development challenges in their own countries. The additional funds will enable the program to build on its success in providing opportunities for advanced study to talented, socially committed men and women in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Russia who come from groups that have traditionally lacked access to higher education.
Now in its sixth year, the program selects fellows on the basis of three criteria: academic achievement, strong leadership skills and potential, and commitment to the development of their communities and countries. Each fellow receives support for up to three years of post-baccalaureate study in an appropriate university program anywhere in the world. Fellows in the program, which was launched in November 2000 with a $280 million grant from Ford, the largest in the foundation's history, are selected by local committees formed by IFP partner organizations that administer the program in their respective countries or regions. Nearly half the fellows selected to date have been women, and most of those chosen in the most recent round are the first in their families or communities to gain an opportunity for university or post-graduate studies.
"Five years ago, we launched IFP because we saw the need for a new kind of fellowship program," said Ford Foundation president Susan V. Berresford. "Our challenge was to increase access to advanced education while reducing so-called brain drain. Today, we are excited to report that IFP Fellows are not only doing well academically, but are using their training to make life better in their home countries. An investment in IFP is an investment in international development."