Global Economic Development Fellowship Winners Announced

June 10, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas — The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at The University of Texas at Austin has announced the winners of the 2010 William H. Crook Fellowships.

Now in its third year, the program awards fellowships to students working with innovative nonprofit organizations to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged people around the world. Since 2008, 21 fellows have engaged in important and often difficult work to improve the economic, social and educational conditions of communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The Crook Fellowships have been awarded to the following seven projects:

  • Adriana Campos will be working with Cultural Survival in Guatemala. By assisting staff with project management and policy issues, she will support the organization's work with community radio stations, which serve as a powerful communication tool in indigenous communities.
  • Amy Knop-Narbutis will be working with the Discover Hope Fund in Cajamarca, Peru to support its microcredit program goals. She will promote microcredit bank formation, develop entrepreneurial business classes and evaluate program impact through interviews and auditing.
  • Blake Messer will design, administer and evaluate a computer literacy curriculum for Peruvian women who make about $2 a day. The students are microloan recipients through Discover Hope Fund, an Austin-based microfinance institution. He will be assisting with Discover Hope's economic development mission by teaching courses and participating in community bank oversight.
  • Pace Phillips will travel to Zambia where he will work with the microfinance organization FINCA International. He will conduct an assessment of FINCA's lending programs by interviewing borrowers and working with many of its rural branch offices. He will present his findings to the country director in Zambia and to FINCA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
  • Allison Ramirez will be working with grassroots organization COFAMIDE and its primary partner Save the Children in El Salvador. COFAMIDE works at the intersection of migration, human rights and development by raising awareness about the dangers of undocumented migration, investigating cases of missing migrants, and advocating for migrant human rights in origin, transit and destination countries. Ramirez will provide technical and administrative assistance to COFAMIDE as it works to strengthen itself institutionally and build regional relationships.
  • Ariel Schwartzis working on behalf of Maria's Librariesto support the Kenyan public library network. She will be fundraising and selecting architects for a new library in Busia Town, generating a directory of local libraries with the Kenya National Library Service and working with institutional partners to develop the Citizen's Archive Project, which will collect, preserve and share local language histories.
  • Sachin Shah will evaluate watershed development programs with the Gujarat Institute for Development Researchto determine their impact on water resources, agricultural production and socioeconomic conditions in rural Gujarat. He will conduct field investigations to determine the spatial distribution of water withdrawals by farmers and evaluate the program's efficiency at the household, farm and watershed levels. He will also assess the impact of technology on the economic welfare of households in select rural watersheds.

"The Crook Fellowships are a flagship program of the Strauss Center," said Francis J. Gavin, the Strauss Center's director. "They enable us to support the next generation of leaders who want to make the world a safer, healthier and more prosperous place for everyone."

The Strauss Center's William H. Crook Chair in International Affairs presents the fellowships. The Chair is dedicated to promoting global economic development and fighting poverty and was made possible by a gift from Eleanor Crook in honor of her late husband. William H. Crook, a prominent public figure in Texas, was United States ambassador to Australia and was a pioneer in global development. At the request of President Lyndon B. Johnson, Crook established the Office of Economic Opportunity in Austin in 1965 and later became the national director of Volunteers in Service to America, now known as AmeriCorps. He was active in poverty relief efforts throughout his life, establishing two orphanages in Ethiopia in the 1980s.

"We are grateful to Mrs. Crook for her generosity and for allowing the Strauss Center to carry Mr. Crook's legacy of dedication to fighting poverty forward in this way," said Gavin.

The award selection committee included Joshua Busby, Crook Distinguished Scholar at the Strauss Center and assistant professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs; Eugene Gholz, Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar and associate professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs; Kate Weaver, Strauss Center Research Coordinator and Distinguished Scholar and associate professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs; and Emily Joiner, former Crook Fellowship recipient and Master of Global Policy Studies candidate at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

For more information, contact: Laura Jones, program coordinator, Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law.