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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The VII Summit of the Americas: A Reflection

President Barack Obama drops by a meeting with CEOs on the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative, at the Hotel Riu Plaza Panama in Panama City, Panama, April 10, 2015. Check out Partners' President & CEO Steve Vetter and VP of Partnerships &  Leadership Programs Matt Clausen on the right! (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
By: Steve Vetter, President & CEO

It’s been just over two weeks since I returned home from the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, and I’m still recovering from what could only be described as an “out of body experience.” It was the third Summit I’ve attended, but by far the most historic. This Summit marked the first time all 35 nations of the Americas have come together – and the end of a decades-long standstill in U.S.-Cuba relations. 

It was by pure coincidence in 1993 that I was invited to the White House by Peter Feinberg to help him organize the civil society component of the First Summit of the Americas. At the time I was working at the Inter-American Foundation which was recognized for working with many of the non-government and community based organizations in Latin America and I was able to help him develop the invitation list and the agenda. At the time I thought having a Summit was a good and promising idea, especially by bringing the civic and community leaders to the table. I never imagined for a moment that one day I would return to it to represent Partners of the Americas on this important occasion, and that the Civil Society component would become one of the most important elements.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Partners, iEARN Seeking Teachers to Expand Online Youth Exchange

Travel grants available for teachers from U.S. Chapters with Brazilian Partners to attend the Annual International Education & Resource Network (iEARN) Conference

Partners of the Americas is expanding opportunities for online youth exchanges through a preferred partner agreement with iEARN, a leader in K-12 virtual exchange and project-based learning. iEARN has affiliates in approximately 140 countries and 33,000 schools worldwide.

“Partners and iEARN both use connections to transform lives,” Partners’ President & CEO Steve Vetter said. “While we both know that important transformation can happen online, nothing beats working together, face-to-face.”

This year offers a rare opportunity for Partners and iEARN to team up and expand online-project exchanges in the Western Hemisphere: The 22nd annual iEARN International Conference and Youth Summit will be held in Brasília from July 26 – 31. The theme of this year's conference is: Inclusive Education, Cross-Cultural Communication, Transformation. Thanks to these travel grants, Partners’ educators will join the gathering of master teachers from across the globe.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Reaching New Summits With SENA

By: Matt Clausen, Vice President, Partnerships and Leadership Programs; Senior Director, 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund

A group of youth volunteers at the II World Summit for Youth Volunteers
in 2011. SENA participated with a big delegation of 200 aprendices.
Mountain climbers often speak of false summits; those hills you see that you believe represent the culmination of your voyage, only to find that there is another steeper climb to follow. For Partners, I want to tell you about one first summit that, as real and amazing as it was, was indeed false with respect to the slow and gradual process of building a multifaceted international partnership.

In 2010, as we cultivated interest in the 2nd World Summit for Youth Volunteering that we were planning to hold in Barranquilla in 2011, two key Partners’ informants from Manizales told me: Approach SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje) – they will want to participate. But the suggestion came with a strong word of advice: Propose something you can do well, because if it works, SENA can bring your plans to a scale that nobody else can. I worked with Carolina Escobar, a Partners’ alumnus and volunteer-turned-consultant in Colombia, and longtime Colombia Partners’ Chapter Member Raaida Mannaa to follow up on this suggestion.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This Earth Day, It's Our Turn to Lead!

By: Shannon Hilsey, Climate and Energy Programs

Learn more at
Today marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, and this year's theme is "It's our turn to lead!" It's an important year for the environment - one that could bring a new global climate change treaty, continued divestment from fossil fuels and investment in renewable energy, and a stronger link between economic growth and sustainability. But to achieve these goals requires each of us - individuals, governments, corporations, universities and civil society included - to take a stand and do our part. It can start by protecting our trees.

For decades, the world’s forests have been decimated not only by global resource use patterns and a growing need for agricultural land, but by poor management. Institutions and private investors have failed to apply dedicated technical expertise and concern for native ecosystems to their work in and around forests. The consequences are wide-reaching, affecting everything from downstream ecosystems and our global air and climate systems to local communities reliant upon forests and their natural products.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Winning Institutions of 100,000 Strong in the Americas Funding Announced Today at the Summit of the Americas

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA, April 9, 2015: Today, at the Summit of the Americas, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the winners of the Santander Bank-sponsored competition of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund. The nine winning institutions involve university partnerships between the United States and Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, and Paraguay. Winners will be celebrated at a reception on April 10 at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Earl S. Tupper Research and Conference Center in Panama City, Panama. The reception, hosted by Partners of the Americas and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, will honor current strategic commitments to the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund including: CAF Development Bank of Latin America, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Exxon Mobil Foundation, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation, Santander Bank, and Sempra International.

The goal of 100,000 Strong in the Americas, President Obama’s signature education initiative in the Western Hemisphere, is to increase the number of U.S. students studying in the Western Hemisphere to 100,000, and the number of students from Latin America and the Caribbean studying in the United States to 100,000 by the year 2020. The initiative enhances hemispheric competitiveness, increases prosperity, and prepares a more globally competent workforce.