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Week of May 2, 2011

WDI partnership to develop entrepreneurship in Jordan

The William Davidson Institute (WDI) is partnering with Washtenaw Community College (WCC) to promote entrepreneurship among students at Al Quds College in Jordan.

WDI will help WCC accurately understand Jordan’s higher education system to facilitate collaboration with Al Quds College. The institute also will assist WCC in developing a proposal for a three-year partnership to support entrepreneurship training at Al Quds.

“WDI has built a solid global portfolio of projects that are building the capacity of foreign universities,” says Khalid Al-Naif, director of WDI’s Development Consulting Services. “This project will expand our portfolio to work with community colleges, thereby substantially expanding our outreach across the education spectrum.”

The grant was one of six awarded under the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) U.S. Community College Entrepreneurship Proposal Development Grants competition administered by Higher Education for Development (HED) and has an option to receive funding for a longer-term project.

“Partnering U.S. community colleges with technical and vocational institutions in the BMENA region will provide a valuable model of successful workforce and entrepreneurship development,” says Tully Cornick, executive director of HED. “HED is pleased to support an initiative that will improve the capacity of the BMENA institutions to contribute to national economic growth by preparing graduates to start their own small businesses, create new jobs and fill positions in growth sectors.”

This initiative is a response to U.S. development goals for the Middle East and North Africa region. During a major speech in June 2009 in Cairo, Egypt, President Obama highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship in fostering economic opportunity and community development. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later emphasized the importance of creating partnerships to promote development and opportunity for young people within the region while speaking in Doha, Qatar, in January.

In June 2009, USAID, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Education sponsored a two-day conference in Amman, Jordan, focusing on community and technical colleges as an important model for facilitating the school-to-work transition in the BMENA region.

“Entrepreneurship is key to improving economic conditions and expanding job creation and social change,” says Alice Blayne-Allard, coordinator for the G8-BMENA Initiative. “MEPI (U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative) is committed to finding new ways to unlock innovation, spur private sector development, and create new employment opportunities for the region’s young population.”

Youth unemployment, increasing poverty, and underemployment of both semi-skilled and skilled workers, has accelerated the need to expand job opportunities to keep pace with rapidly expanding populations and to ensure regional prosperity and stability, WDI officials say.

Community colleges and vocational institutions in the United States have programs and centers that actively are linked to industry, corporations and local businesses. As a result, community college graduates often are more quickly employed due to their relevant studies and links to business.



Brigitte Maassen, international visitor coordinator, International Center, on her youth, and the influence of international culture: “I grew up in a family that was so inclusive of people of all different religions, races and backgrounds … so I’m very grateful.”


Gifts of Art presents “The Tie that Binds: Book Arts Group Show,” featuring School of Art & Design student works through June 13 in the Taubman Health Center South Lobby, Floor 1.

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