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100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund Announces New Grant Winning Partnerships between US & Mexico
December 9, 2020

Ambassador Landau at a microphone

supported by Fundación Banorte, Fundación Gruma, and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs


December 9, 2020, Mexico City: The U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, and Partners of the Americas announce eleven new grant-winning teams in the latest Innovation Fund competition generously sponsored by Fundación Banorte, Fundación Gruma, and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

The 100,000 Strong in the Americas (100K) Innovation Fund is the public-private sector collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, U.S. embassies, and Partners of the Americas working with companies, foundations, and academic networks to stimulate and support higher education partnerships between the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.

The Innovation Fund inspires U.S. universities and colleges to work in teams with higher education institutions in Latin America to design and implement new models of academic exchange and workforce development programs throughout the Americas.

Innovation Fund partnerships between higher education institutions ensure that students will gain access to new academic training programs to work in teams, solve real-world problems, research, and gain technical and linguistic skills imperative for today’s workforce.  Since its inception in 2014, and as of December 2020, the Innovation Fund has awarded 243 grants ($25,000 to $35,000 each), to 491 higher education institutions working in teams in 25 countries and in 49 U.S. states.

After six years, Mexico continues to be the leading country in this regional education initiative to form partnerships with U.S. universities and colleges to create and implement new academic exchange and training programs. With today’s announcement, there are now 20 Mexican states and 27 U.S. states that benefit from 71 grants that impact students and faculty in both countries.

This Innovation Fund competition is generously sponsored by Fundación BanorteFundación Gruma, along with the Department of State, and provides eleven (11) grants of $25,000 each to support new  partnerships between U.S. universities and colleges and higher education institutions throughout Mexico.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Landau remarked: “100,000 Strong in the Americas is an example of educational cooperation between our countries, showing that when Mexicans and Americans work together, we go further and are stronger, especially when we invest in education and the prosperity of our peoples. For this reason, it is noteworthy that, despite the challenging times we are living, today we can make this announcement so relevant to our countries, which is a symbol of our cooperation. I want to give a very special recognition to the Banorte and Gruma foundations for joining the Mexican companies that, with a strategic vision, joined the great family of the Innovation Fund and, in the case of Banorte, is the first Mexican bank to join.”

Carlos Hank González, Chairman of the Board of Grupo Financiero Banorte, added: “Mexico and the United States have always been great allies and by working together we will contribute to make our bond even stronger. We are very proud of this initiative that encourages our students to make a positive change in our societies. Congratulations to the winners from both countries.”

Profiles of New Innovation Fund teams between Mexico and the United States:

Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, United States

Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora, Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, Mexico

US-México Training in Environment, Agriculture and Management (TEAM)

The “US-México TEAM” project between Arizona State University and the Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora will provide students from underrepresented populations opportunities to learn about sustainable agriculture in Mexico and the United States to. Students will participate in virtual instruction on research methods, environmental assessments, and public engagement in order to conduct field visits, during which students will interact with and disseminate knowledge within diverse agricultural communities.

Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Puebla, Puebla, Mexico

University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, United States

Creation of an International Rural Entrepreneur Network

In the “International Rural Entrepreneur Network” program, students from Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla and University of Montana will co-create business projects in collaboration with  communities and local producers to promote new ways of doing business that will positively impact in three spheres: economic, social, and environmental, inequality reduction, and improving opportunities to break cycles of poverty.  Students will first collaborate through an online platform then travel to the respective partnering institution to visit rural communities and learn about rural entrepreneurship.

California State University, Fresno, Fresno, California, United States

Universidad Panamericana Campus Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes, Mexico

From Cows to Neurons: A Binational Student Faculty Abroad Program

California State University, Fresno, in partnership with Universidad Panamericana, Campus Aguascalientes, will conduct exchange programs for students in Mexico and the United States to advance agricultural sustainability and rural economic development. The program will introduce students to the complete dairy production chain in both countries:  milking, milk quality, food safety, processing and technology, food chemistry, sensory analysis, and marketing.  Students will also participate in lectures, laboratories, and site visits.

Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, Wisconsin, United States

Universidad Politécnica de Guanajuato, Cortazar, Guanajuato, Mexico

Global Workplace Skills for Equity and Inclusion

Through active participation in this international exchange program between Mexico and the United States, students from Fox Valley Technical College and the Universidad Politécnica de Guanajuato will enhance the skills necessary to succeed in today’s global economy. Students will be able to increase their global competencies, strengthen their second language abilities, and increase their readiness to engage as global leaders, whether they choose to pursue entrepreneurship or work for a local or international company.

Kent State University at Stark, North Canton, Ohio, United States

Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City, Mexico City, Mexico

Sustainable Gardening for Poverty Reduction and Cultural Preservation Project

This collaboration will introduce students from Kent State University at Stark and Universidad Panamericana to economic inclusion initiatives that incorporate sustainable gardening, environmental projects, and/or indigenous farming practices. Students and faculty will work in collaboration with resettled refugee populations in Northeast Ohio and Mexico City to learn about, economic inclusion and environmental initiatives among these immigrant communities.

Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, United States

Universidad de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

The Big IDEA / La Gran IDEA

In this collaborative project, students from Northern Arizona University (NAU) and Universidad de Sonora (UNISON) will form cross-border teams to develop solutions surrounding food security and financial inclusion in the Arizona/Sonora Megaregion. Students will join in Hermosillo, Mexico to visit local communities and attend workshops at UNISON with professors and community leaders. Lastly, students will then reunite on the NAU campus to participate in a design challenge and a final competition to pitch their Big IDEAs.

Polk State College, Winter Haven, Florida, United States

Instituto Tecnológico de Mérida, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico

International Business Study Abroad Alliance

Polk State College (Polk State) and the Instituto Tecnológico de Mérida (ITM) have partnered to prepare Business Management students to become business leaders and entrepreneurs in today’s shifting political and economic landscape. In two week-long training sessions hosted at Polk State and ITM, students will work with local businesses to complete project-based learning activities focused on comparative analyses leading to reduced inequality, increased financial inclusion, and enhanced cross-cultural understanding.

Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas, United States

Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico

Transboundary Conservation Program for the Chihuahuan Desert

In this collaborative project between the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University and the Facultad de Zootecnia y Ecología at the Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, students and faculty from both universities will learn to effectively manage shared natural resources in the Chihuahuan desert through workshops and academic courses within BRI’s grassland bird research project.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Colegio de Postgraduados Campus Córdoba, Córdoba, Veracruz, Mexico

Preparing U.S. and Mexican Students to Propose Solutions to Challenges Faced by Small/ Medium-Sized Agricultural Firms: A Pilot International Collaboration Project

This project will create a platform for international collaborations between undergraduate students from underrepresented majors at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) and graduate students from the Colegio de Postgraduados Campus Córdoba (Colegio de Postgraduados) through the creation of a faculty-led academic exchange course in Mexico focused on small/medium-sized agricultural enterprises at Colegio de Postgraduados and a new academic exchange collaboration at UT. 

The University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas, United States

Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), Álvaro Obregón, Mexico City, Mexico

UTD-CIDE Student Exchange Program

The “UTD-CIDE Summer Exchange Program” will introduce students from The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) and the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) to issues of financial inclusion, urbanization, and sustainability in Mexico and the United States. Through enriching intercultural experiences, students will learn how globalization affects the ability of government and nonprofit entities to serve vulnerable populations.  As a result, this project will create opportunities for future collaborations and increase students’ understanding of issues related to global governance.

Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Recinto de San Germán, San Germán, Puerto Rico

Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (CETYS) Universidad, Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico

Promoting Entrepreneurship as a Tool for Diversification

and Economic & Financial Inclusion for Inequality Reduction

This partnership will promote, enhance, and strengthen academic exchange opportunities between the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Recinto de San Germán and the Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior Universidad (CETYS) by providing students with unique experiences to learn about entrepreneurship as a tool for diversification and economic and financial inclusion for inequality reduction among disadvantaged, underserved, and minority student populations in higher education institutions in Mexico and the United States.

two men walking

The 100,000 Strong in the Americas (100K) Innovation Fund is the public-private sector collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, U.S. embassies, Partners of the Americas, companies, foundations, and regional government partners working with academic networks to support and increase higher education institutional partnerships between the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.

With commitments from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) along with over 25 companies and foundations as of December 2020, the Innovation Fund has become the trusted, flexible mechanism that drives this hemispheric-wide education initiative to create partnerships, build institutional capacity, increase student exchange and training program opportunities, and strengthen regional education cooperation throughout the Americas.

As of December 2020, the Innovation Fund has awarded 243 grants ($25,000 to $35,000 each) to teams of 491 universities and colleges in 25 countries and in 49 U.S. states.  Currently, over 2,900 higher education institutions have joined the Innovation Network — with over 1,500 universities and colleges in the United States.

JOIN the Network and LEARN more: www.100kstrongamericas.org 

The mission of Partners of the Americas is to connect people and organizations across borders to serve and to change lives through lasting partnerships. These partnerships create opportunity, foster understanding, and solve real-life problems. Inspired by President Kennedy and founded in 1964, under the Alliance for Progress, Partners is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with international offices in Washington, DC. Learn more at www.partners.net or via Twitter @partnersamerica.


Grupo Financiero Banorte is a leading financial institution in Mexico, the second largest financial group in the country and the one with the broadest business diversification in the market. Banorte provides services to more than 21 million customers through an extensive network that includes more than 1,100 branches, over 9,000 ATMs, more than 16,000 correspondents and over 162,000 point of sale terminals.

Our subsidiaries’ main activity is the realization of financial operations such as providing banking, brokerage and warehousing services, leasing and factoring operations. We offer insurance and annuity services, as well as the management of retirement savings contributions. We also operate the international money transfer company Uniteller, which mainly serve the remittance market.


Gruma is a global Mexican food company and a leader in the production of corn flour, tortillas and wraps worldwide, with an international reach that includes operations in America, Europe, Asia and Oceania with 74 plants and presence in 112 countries through its “Maseca” and “Mission” global brands. Thanks to innovation and the use of new technologies, it has expanded its portfolio of products and services to adapt to the different lifestyles, cultures and needs of its customers and consumers in all countries where it is present.

Currently, we live in a world where malnutrition, food security, hunger and sustainable agriculture have not yet been fully solved. As a food company that operates globally, Gruma is fully engaged in finding solutions to these issues. Encouraging research and international collaboration on these subjects of study, should be a priority of higher education institutions because the world needs innovative proposals to address these problems. In order to face the nutrition and alimentation problems facing the world, Gruma must understand the vision that university students are developing about how companies should adapt their products and services as part of the solution to these issues.

The global situation requires that sustainable agriculture techniques must be found and applied by food companies. Gruma considers it a priority to collaborate with higher education institutions so that university students are able to propose innovative solutions and techniques to address these problems. For more information, visit https://www.gruma.com/.