Here’s the latest on grant-winning university teams supported by Banorte, led by its chairman, Carlos Hank González, Fundación Gruma and the U.S. Department of State as part of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund.

The fund encourages higher education institutions to adopt new models of academic exchange and workforce development programs throughout the Americas. These cross-cultural research teams are seeking to broaden technical skills, solve real-world problems and stimulate economic prosperity.

Partners: Kent State University at Stark, North Canton, Ohio, and the Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City

Project: Helping students learn about economic inclusion initiatives that incorporate sustainable gardening for poverty reduction and cultural preservation. Students take part in virtual instruction on research methods, environmental assessments, field visits and collaboration with community stakeholders.

“Mexico City students are going to be visiting Central America refugee communities and there they are going to analyze which economic and financial factors are driving these people to emigrate to Mexico and even further to North America. These causes are going to be analyzed and then they’re going to be discussed within the group to find solutions to these problems,” said Universidad Panamericana project lead, Salvador Rivas-Acesves.

Salvador Rivas-Aceves, research dean, economics and business administration school at Universidad Panamericana.

Salvador Rivas-Aceves, research dean, economics and business administration school at Universidad Panamericana.

To learn more, please check out this video by Kent State University, Sarah Schmidt and Universidad Panamericana, Salvador Rivas-Aceves.

What’s new: KSU and Universidad Panamericana are collaborating on projects that incorporate environmental endeavors and indigenous agricultural practices. Both universities also are working with settled refugee populations in Northeast Ohio and Mexico City to learn about economic inclusion and environmental action among these immigrant communities.

Their mission: Provide sustainable agricultural and economic prosperity for underserved cultural communities.

Sarah Schmidt, office of global initiatives at Kent State University, and project manager, said KSU and Universidad Panamericana students are looking forward to adding a component of cultural preservation to both economic and environmental initiatives among the immigrant communities.

The goal? “For students to see themselves as stakeholders in the solutions,” Schmidt said.

Sarah Schmidt, office of global initiatives at Kent State University.

Sarah Schmidt, office of global initiatives at Kent State University.

“Through the research components in Mexico and the special projects in Ohio, we anticipate multiple layers of learning and community impact,” she said.

What’s next: KSU and UP students will be connected and working in teams through fall 2022.

For more: Since its inception in 2014 through the end of 2020, the Innovation Fund has awarded 243 grants ($25,000 to $35,000 each) to more than 490 universities and institutions, working in teams in 25 countries and in 49 U.S. states. See 100kstrongamericas.org.