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USC Africa Fund to Help Undergrads

The USC Office of Globalization will oversee the grants.

USC is launching a new Africa Student Fund, an endowment to support undergraduate students’ travel to Africa for study, research, service-based learning and internships.

USC Executive Vice President and Provost C. L. Max Nikias announced the fund at a Visions and Voices signature event last fall titled “Safari of the Soul: The Quest for Water in Africa,” a program based on the efforts of USC trustee David Dornsife, his wife Dana and two nonprofit organizations to dig wells for clean water on the continent.

“The USC Africa Student Fund represents an investment in USC students and an investment in Africa,” Nikias said at the event. “A significant percentage of USC students who travel to Africa, whether for study, research, service-based learning or internships, remain involved in African affairs and return to the continent. Their continuing presence and their partnerships with Africans and African institutions strengthen both the ties between the U.S. and Africa and the ties between USC and Africa.”

Nikias said “the program builds on the USC Global Scholars program and is in response to high student interest in Africa,” as documented in the 2008 USC Africa survey and student presentations during the Africa lunch program in December 2007.

“It is also a response to a need identified by faculty for funding for student travel, funding which is often not included in grants for research in Africa,” he said.

The fund is being inaugurated with a $100,000 gift from Adam Clayton Powell III, USC vice provost for globalization, and his wife, Irene Solet. This gift will generate sufficient income to support travel by at least two students each year and will be the basis of additional fund-raising activity by the university.

The new program complements existing support for USC student international travel, including the SOAR program at USC College and similar programs at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and other professional schools.

Students need a GPA of 3.5 to be eligible � similar to USC’s Global, Renaissance and Discovery Scholars. They must participate in an international program either administered or recognized by USC. If USC international students from Africa apply for the fund, their foreign travel must be in a different region of the continent.

Recipients of support from the fund will be expected to complete a capstone research project or paper, as well as an essay in which they reflect on their international experience.

The USC Office of Globalization will oversee the grants, and Powell said that students will have flexibility and room for creativity in deciding on capstone projects.

“For example, as with Global Scholars, a student at our Thornton School of Music might produce a musical composition that is influenced by the sounds of indigenous instruments, while a student at our College of Letters, Arts and Sciences might prepare a research report that documents the implementation of an irrigation system in a rural village,” he said.

An online application process and deadlines for the travel grants are being developed. Individual schools will conduct the initial reviews of proposals and select finalists for consideration by a USC-wide faculty committee.

When details are finalized, they will be posted on the Office of Globalization Web site at

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