Ford’s International Fellows

  • Overseas
  • 2001

Drawing from its long history of supporting international scholars, the Ford Foundation launched a freestanding International Fellowships Program with a $280 million grant in 2001—the largest single gift ever allotted by Ford—and operated the program through 2013. It provided study stipends to community leaders from regions of the world with little access to higher education, particularly targeting minorities and less successful populations, and “prioritizing social commitment” over academic potential.

More than 4,300 individuals from 22 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Russia, and Latin America won fellowships. One third of them pursued degrees in the United States or Canada, another third studied in Europe, and the final third enrolled in institutions in their home regions. After completing their education, most participants returned to their homes to work. When last surveyed, 46 percent of alumni were living in their home community, an additional 36 percent were living in their home country, and 18 percent were living in a different country. The Ford International Fellowships Program was intended as a demonstration project to widen college access. The foundation’s total spending on the program over its 13-year life came to $355 million.