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  • Global Development

The First Presbyterian Church in Ithaca has funding opportunities available to graduate students who intend to help improve food security in developing countries. Grants are made without regard to an applicant’s religious beliefs or absence thereof. 

Now in its 34th year, the program provides supplemental financial support to several international graduate students whose thesis research deals with food security issues in their countries. In the broadest sense, topics can range from environment and natural resources issues to nutrition or water quality. The main goal is, in some way, to address the problems related to hunger and food security. To date more than 90 Cornell graduate students from 30 different countries have received funding.

Application material must be submitted by April 30, 2021.

Selected proposals will receive a modest grant that can be used for expenses related to the research project. The funds are to be used in some phase of field research or work in the student’s home country.  For example, funds may be used for additional technical assistance, equipment, local travel, or other needed resources to implement the thesis research or MPS project. Funds are not ordinarily awarded for international airfare.

To be eligible for a grant, an applicant must:

  • Be a student from a developing country.
  • Be enrolled in a graduate (MS, MPS, or PhD) program at Cornell in a field of study that is likely to contribute to improved food security (for example, agricultural production, nutrition, education, communications, food policies, environment and natural resources, water resources, global development).
  • Have plans for doing thesis research or an MPS project in their home country and in cooperation with others working on food security issues in the area.
  • Agree to financial oversight of the grant by their graduate committee chair.
  • Be committed to returning to their home country to work on food security after completion of the graduate degree.
  • Be willing to share plans and experiences with the First Presbyterian Church of Ithaca, as described below.

Funds will be available beginning in May 2021 summer period and may be used at any time through August 2022. Applications must be received by Friday, April 30, 2021 and must be typed. The student's graduate committee chair must provide a letter indicating their evaluation of the student and the research proposal, together with their willingness to attest, at the conclusion of the project, whether funds were used as intended. Interviews will be held by zoom on Saturday, May 8, 2021.

As a condition of receiving the grants, students must make a presentation to members of the church about their research and how it will address hunger in their country and submit a short (1-2 page) written report. Because members of the church financially contribute to the award, they look forward to hearing about the results of students’ work after it is completed. Typical grants awarded are in the range of $2,000.

The International Food Security Committee of the Church reviews the applications, conducts interviews, and selects students who will receive grants. This committee works closely with the Senior Associate Director of International Programs at Cornell. The IP-CALS Office will serve as the center for identification of students who might be eligible for this financial aid.

For additional information about this program, please contact dmp3 [at] (Denise Percey), assistant to the director of IP-CALS.

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