DMU lands 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grant

Des Moines University is a member of one of 10 grant-winning teams between Colombia and the United States to receive grants in the most recent Innovation Fund competition sponsored by the Colombian Institute of Educational Loans and Studies Abroad (ICETEX) and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

The 100K Innovation Fund is a public-private sector collaboration among the U.S. Department of State and Partners of the Americas working with companies, foundations, regional government entities and academic networks to champion the power of education to support innovative partnerships and training programs between the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere. The 100K Fund fosters partnerships among U.S. universities and colleges with higher education institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean to design and carry out new models of academic training and exchange programs throughout the Americas.

Currently, more than 2,300 higher education institutions, including 1,300 universities and colleges in the U.S., have joined the Innovation Network. As of June 2021, after 30 grant competitions​ in seven years, the 100K Fund has awarded 253 grants ($25,000-$35,000 each) to 504 higher education institutions working in teams across 25 countries and 49 U.S. states.

This most recent 100K competition will provide 10 grants of $26,175 each to support new partnerships between higher education institutions in Colombia and the United States that will give more students access to innovative academic training and exchange programs in both countries starting in fall 2021. 

DMU, the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Cundinamarca, Colombia; and the Fundación Universitaria Juan N. Corpas (FUJNC), Bogota, are on a team for project on sustainable health equity: alliances for public health and community well being. Through a hybrid student mobility framework, students of the three institutions will participate in experiential learning through interaction with local communities and health stakeholders. In the end, students will create and propose new policies and innovations to policymakers. 

“It is an honor to be among the recipients of this grant,” says Sondra Schreiber, M.A., director of global health at the University. “DMU has been collaborating with Fundación Universitaria Juan N. Corpas on this project since 2020. We are excited to continue our partnership with FUNJC and begin a new partnership with Universidad de los Andes.”   

Contributing to DMU’s success in landing the grant was a project in 2020 by two DMU students, now graduates of the University’s osteopathic medicine program, Blaire Nasstrom and Fiona Hodges. Partnering with Dr. Maria Luisa Latorre and a consortium at FUJNC, they were preparing to collect and analyze data about the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. The consortium was pulled into the discussion.

“I had the pleasure of working with these students and the consortium, gathering data about the SDGs for online consumption,” says Simon Geletta, Ph.D., professor of public health at DMU. “The current project takes the collaboration between DMU and the two universities in Colombia to a new stage.”

Sondra expressed thanks to the DMU Department of Public Health, including Dr. Geletta; Rachel Reimer, Ph.D., director of the department; and Jeneane McDonald, M.P.H., instructor of public health; the Polk County Health Department; and MercyOne, a major health care system headquartered in Des Moines, for writing letters of support for the grant. She says that in academic year 2021-2022, the grant-supported project will have both virtual and mobility components. In spring semester 2022, DMU will offer a virtual course in collaboration with FUJNC and Universidad de los Andes. In summer 2022, students and faculty from DMU will travel to Colombia, and students and faculty from the two Colombian universities will travel to Des Moines for the mobility exchange.  

“Through this hybrid student mobility framework, students will participate in experiential learning through interaction with local communities and health stakeholders and will learn about the health care system and public health in both countries,” Sondra says.

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