By Tracey Eaton (alongthemalecon.blogspot.com)
HAVANA TIMES — The US State Department wants to send at least 15 Cubans to graduate school in the United States so they can “more effectively establish, lead, manage, and grow independent organizations in Cuba.”
U.S. officials are seeking a public or private university to carry out the $1.5 million project, called the Cuban Nonprofit Management Scholarship Program.
The State Department announced the project on Tuesday. Applications are due on July 23. Excerpts of the announcement are below:
“The United States Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) announces a Notification of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to support a U.S.-based scholarship program for graduate-level education focused on nonprofit management for Cubans with up to $1,584,158 in FY 2014 Economic Support Funds for a project period of four years. The anticipated start date for this activity is September 2015 and one award is anticipated as a result of this NOFO. WHA invites U.S. public and private institutions of higher education or U.S. nonprofit /non-governmental organizations having 501(c)(3) status with the IRS or an equivalent official status to submit proposals.
“The program will support the U.S. government’s foreign assistance goal to empower Cubans to freely determine their own future by increasing human capacity, promoting community-level engagement, and expanding civic society networks by administering a scholarship program for graduate-level degrees or certificates in nonprofit management in the United States for at least 15 participants. The program will build the capacity of Cuban individuals to more effectively establish, lead, manage, and grow independent organizations in Cuba.
In addition to the university-based requirements for completing a degree or certificate, the program will include English language training, as needed, to prepare students for scholarly courses, as well as a work experience opportunity through an internship with a nonprofit organization or professional association.
“U.S. foreign assistance for Cuba seeks to empower Cubans to freely determine their own future by increasing human capacity, promoting community level engagement, and expanding civil society networks. Since 1996, the United States has provided assistance to increase the flow of information on democracy, human rights, and free enterprise to Cuba through a variety of U.S. and foreign non-governmental organizations.
“The U.S. Department of State has engaged with independent civil society groups on education, communication, and governance issues. The Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) seeks to build upon these earlier, successful capacity building efforts and provide professional development opportunities to current and future civil society and community leaders through coursework and internships on nonprofit management. Civil society organizations in Cuba have had few models to follow as they grow to serve the needs of their communities. With an increased ability to travel, Cubans are eager for more information and want to take advantage of educational opportunities not afforded to them otherwise.
“To support further progress, the U.S. Department of State has allocated $1,584,158 in FY 2014 Economic Support Funds for a scholarship program for graduate-level coursework focused on nonprofit sector management.
“To support the professional growth of emerging nonprofit leaders and thereby contribute to the development and diversification of human capital in Cuba, this project will fund a scholarship program for graduate-level certificates and degrees focused on nonprofit management. Participants will also receive English language training and a hands-on trainee/internship program in a U.S. non-governmental organization or professional association as part of the project. At the end of the project, participants will have a set of tools and skills to manage and grow civil society organizations that will effectively support democratic principles in Cuba.
“The goal of this project is to empower and prepare nonprofit leaders to use entrepreneurial tools and strategies and to grow Cuba’s nascent civil society base and enable the nonprofit sector to work more efficiently and effectively as a means to promote democratic principles in Cuba.
“The individuals that participate as students and interns in this project will be able to demonstrate knowledge of and skill in multiple aspects of management of nonprofit organizations, enabling them to return to Cuba to provide greater expertise in the field and capable of employing their newfound skills as founders, employees, or advisors for independent organizations in any variety of issue areas.”