iEARN-USA Receives Grant from the Aspen Institute Stevens Initiative

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April 4, 2016-- The International Education and Resource Network (iEARN-USA) is the recipient of a two-year grant from The Aspen Institute Stevens Initiative to engage educators and students in the U.S. and MENA-region in meaningful dialogue and collaborative project-based learning through the Internet.  iEARN-USA is one of 10 new projects funded through a national competition to use virtual exchange to increase cross-cultural understanding through on-line learning, and equip young people to participate in a global economy.

The Stevens Initiative is a public-private partnership designed to increase people-to-people exchanges between youth in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa as a lasting tribute to the legacy of Ambassador Chris Stevens. The Initiative aims to increase mutual understanding between youth in middle school through post-secondary education, and equip a generation of globally-minded youth with the skills they need to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world.

As part of the grant, iEARN-USA will provide professional online training and curriculum-based virtual exchange activities for educators in 11 MENA countries and their U.S. counterparts through its BRIDGE (Building Respect through International Dialogue and Global Education) program. Following an online course, educators will connect their students through asynchronous activities that will culminate in videoconference connections and community exhibitions in five thematic areas: environment, civic education, heritage, identity and tradition, food security, and arts and media production.

“Our vision is to spark conversations between young people in countries around the world—to exchange ideas and information and to work together on addressing important issues. We look forward to working with iEARN-USA to achieve this vision,” said Elliot Gerson, Executive Vice President of the Aspen Institute. 

The announcement marks the first major step in the Stevens Initiative’s plan to scale up people-to-people exchanges between youth in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa. The Initiative provided $5 million to support online programs that will bring more than 20,000 young people together to engage in cross-cultural learning experiences. The programs reach 17 countries in the Middle East and North Africa and 25 American states.

“iEARN-USA is thrilled to be a partner in this intrepid initiative to connect youth online from regions that traditionally have had limited contact,” said Dr. Tonya Muro, Executive Director of iEARN-USA. “iEARN-USA’s history of breaking down walls to build virtual bridges of understanding and dialogue will create more empathy among young people at a time when it has become an indispensable part of global citizenship.”

iEARN is a global non-profit organization made up of more than 30,000 schools and youth organizations in 140 countries. Since 1988, iEARN has been empowering and equipping  educators with the tools and skills to use technology to engage millions of students worldwide in collaborative project work.

“With the BRIDGE program, we will continue working toward quality education and building a global, sustainable, and peaceful world through online exchanges between educators and youth in the MENA region and their peers in the USA,” said Helá Nafti, TEARN Country Coordinator (Tunisian Education and Resource Network).

Housed at the Aspen Institute, the Stevens Institute is a collaboration between the family of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Department of State, the Bezos Family Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the governments of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Algeria, and Morocco, and Microsoft, Twitter, Mozilla, and GoPro. 

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