by Dr. Robin Marsh
Over the last few months, it has been wonderful to foster and witness the connections between the Beahrs ELP, the Master of Development Practice (MDP), and the The MasterCard Foundation (MCF) Scholars Program at Berkeley. I am fortunate to be involved with all three programs so that I can help make those connections. Let me share a few examples.

Image iconrobin1-139x300_2.jpgAs many of you know by now, UC Berkeley has received a large grant from The MasterCard Foundation to provide comprehensive scholarships and support to economically disadvantaged and academically talented youth from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to pursue undergraduate and professional MA degrees (including MDP) at Berkeley. This grant is part of the Foundation’s large investment in the education and capacity building of youth in SSA, at secondary and university levels. Scholarships go to applicants with a clear, “give back”, and “go back” ethos, intent upon using their knowledge and skills to lead economic and social progress across Africa. To foster these intentions, the MCF Scholars Program supports undergraduate and graduate students to spend one summer in SSA pursuing an internship, experiential learning or research opportunity.

How is the ELP involved in The MCF Scholars Program? How can you be involved? In four key ways: 1. Dr. Mohamed Bakarr (ELP 2006, Sierra Leone), Senior Environmental Advisor with The Global Environment Facility, is on the Advisory Committee, 2. ELP alumni from SSA will be designing/supervising internships for The MCF Scholars. Already, Zoely from Madagascar (ELP 2006), James from Rwanda (ELP 2003), Negash and Mesfin from Ethiopia (ELP 2011, 2012) and several Ugandan ELP alumni (Simon 2012, Emmanuel 2001, among them) are connecting with current MCF Scholars for 2013 summer internships. 3. Help with recruitment of eligible youth to attend UC Berkeley and other partner universities as part of the MCF Scholars Program. Check out the Center for African Studies website for all of the current information: ( 4. Advise and assist us with the post-graduate transition of these talented youth to meaningful employment and “give back” opportunities in your own organizations, and among your partners. Many of them will be pursuing careers in “sustainable development” as engineers, environmental scientists, public health specialists, public policy analysts, and other careers in important growing fields across Africa.

Another exciting connection is between the MDP students (15 in the first cohort/2012-2013) and ELP alumni across the globe. All MDP students must complete a practical summer internship in between their first and second years of study, and, under the guidance of David and myself, will be reaching out to you for opportunities to learn and contribute as young “development practitioners”, many with a background in economics and impact assessment. Thus far, we are connecting the MDP students with ELP alumni in China (Peng 2012, Patrick 2006) , India (Kalyan and Anita 2005) , Jordan (Noor 2011), and Madagascar (Lisa 2001, Zoely 2006), among others.

On a final note of “connections”, we have been excited to work with Armando Sanchez (ELP 2012), Professor UNAM, on the organization of an upcoming workshop in Mexico (January 7 – 12, 2013) that will bring together expertise from, Mexico, Berkeley, and ELP alumni from Peru, Brazil and the US, to discuss, share knowledge, and develop a comprehensive proposal to support indigenous communities of the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca to conserve forests, biodiversity and carbon, and invest in integrated and sustainable territorial development. More on the outcome of this workshop, and other collaborative endeavors in the New Year.

Happy holidays and very best wishes for the New Year,