FIU and USAID renew their agreement to continue working together expanding opportunities for students and research

Anthony Pereira, director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, Provost Elizabeth Béjar and Michael Camilleri, acting assistant administrator of USAID's Latin American and Caribbean Bureau, at the signing ceremony to renew the agreement between FIU and USAID.

The Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC) at the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs signed a three-year renewal on April 18, 2024, for an important agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) builds on USAID and FIU’s long-time collaboration on international development initiatives, such as disaster risk resilience, justice reform and human rights, carried out both by LACC and the Center for Administration of Justice, and water sustainability.

The document was signed by FIU Provost Elizabeth Béjar and Michael Camilleri, acting assistant administrator of USAID's Latin American and Caribbean Bureau. This partnership expands USAID and FIU’s dynamic work by providing opportunities to FIU students and faculty in the international development sector through internships, training, and speaker exchanges; mentoring opportunities; and other collaborative engagements.

“Thanks to collaboration between LACC, and our team in Washington D.C., we have succeeded in placing students in key bureaus, first and foremost the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau,” said Béjar. “One of those success stories, Pierina Anton Lopez, a proud graduate of the Green School, was awarded the prestigious USAID Payne Fellowship and began her service this year. We know there will be many more.”

Another example: The USAID Innovation and Inclusion Case Competition at FIU’s Biscayne Bay campus held in October 2022. Three interdisciplinary teams comprised of FIU students swept the competition with their development program for potato farmers in Peru’s Andes mountains, which they designed and presented to a team of development specialists. In addition, LACC master’s student, Gisela Sarabia-Sandoval attended a USAID conference for contractors in El Salvador in August 2023, where she presented her research.

“As partners, we also seek to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience, and recruit underrepresented minority students for careers in international development,” said Camilleri. “The agency needs more people who look like you to work with us, we want to steal more FIU graduates and hire them.”

Béjar shared some of the goals of the partnership FIU would like to fulfill, and noted that recently LACC’s Research Director, José Miguel Cruz worked with USAID to organize a seminar on the results of the Haiti portion of the 2023 AmericasBarometer Report. The partnership also provides for USAID to work with FIU as a minority serving institution, a designation which aims to provide opportunities for collaboration across our diverse nation.

USAID has proposed that an international development diplomat be in residence in LACC during the 2024-2025 academic year. Béjar commented that the placement of this diplomat at FIU will be an excellent way to accelerate communication between the two organizations and leverage mutually beneficial opportunities in the future.