Here’s the latest on grant-winning university teams supported by Fundación Banorte, led by Banorte 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: University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), Texas and Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (Center for Research and Teaching in Economics), Mexico.

Project: Strengthen financial inclusion and global governance in the United States and Mexico 

Their mission: To educate students on policy innovation within public finance and local economic development, while exposing participants to new environments that enhance cultural competency.

What’s new: University of Texas at Dallas partnered with Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas to host a summer exchange program with eight students. The students participated in a cross-cultural experience to enhance their understanding of economic development and governance in both the United States and Mexico.

Faculty members created innovative programs on governmental finance that provided unique insights grounded in both theory and practice. Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica provided a local economic development course while University of Texas at Dallas hosted a course on government financial management and budgeting. While on their trips in each country, students engaged in meetings and interviews with local officials, participated in workshops and visited various establishments. 


“It was refreshing to see how the students from Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica were able to ask questions of how we operate our economic development programs, which gave us new insights into how we can improve the outcomes of our economic development initiatives,” said UTD instructor Ted Benevides.

The geographic diversity helped students better understand the unique challenges each community faces in government finance, and the exposure to varioius locations enhanced the students’ cultural competency. Sites visited in Mexico were the Catedral de Puebla, Cosmovitral Botanical Garden, Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral and Museo Nacional de Antropologia. In Texas, students visited major areas of commerce and Perot Museum. The collaboration between the two schools allowed students to share their diverse experiences and knowledge.

“Each day, I learned about Mexico City’s intricate and vibrant culture and was able to see in real time how that vibrant culture played a major role in the city’s bureaucracy and local government,” said Sabrine Oujout, a student in the University of Texas at Dallas master’s public affairs program.

In Mexico City, students participated in a theoretical course on public finance and local management, which allowed them to have discussions about development with officials, practitioners and specialists from municipal and urban governments in Mexico.

“I was able to see the cities in Mexico were having the same challenges as cities in the United States at creating economic development within their communities and validating if their incentives were having the desired results,” said Benevides.

The university was featured the 100k Strong in America’s program on its website and the communications office will soon publish a story covering the students’ journeys.

What’s Next: Both universities have expressed interest in maintaining relations and increasing opportunities for teaching and research abroad. The institutions hope to integrate student from other areas of study into the program.

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