Georgetown lobbying to expand SEED program to the Andes

Georgetown University is lobbying Congress to extend the Scholarships for Education and Economic Development program into the Andes region of South America, according to publicly disclosed federal documents.

The SEED program, which currently includes the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua, is sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development and administered by the University’s Center for Intercultural Education and Development. The program offers scholarships to students in support of technical training, leadership skills enhancement, and English as a second language studies.

SEED educates students about civil society, volunteerism, free-market economics, and democratic participation in order to encourage a better understanding of the democratic processes of the United States.

“Given the similarity between the political situations in several of the Andean countries and the situations in the Central American nations where the SEED program was conceived, we are convinced it has the potential to serve to enhance political stability and economic development with its focus on indigenous populations, individuals with disabilities and women in the three targeted Andean nations (Colombia, Bolivia and Peru) as it has in Central America and the Caribbean,” Scott Fleming, associate vice president for federal relations, wrote in an e-mail.

In early 2009, Georgetown received a $50 million grant to operate the SEED program. According to Katie Martha, a University spokesperson who spoke with Vox when the grant was announced, the money was expected to aid more than 1,300 students until 2014.

Although Fleming admitted that the current economic climate is not amenable to the proposal, he hopes that the University’s lobbying efforts will pay off.

“Current budgetary constraints make it more difficult to achieve the expansion, but the funding could come from the already planned AID investments in the targeted countries and would meet the AID designated priorities in those countries,” he wrote.

Photo: USAID

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