President David Skorton touted the new CARE-Cornell venture as the “first-ever” partnership between a major NGO, or non-governmental organization, and a single university in a speech about Cornell’s dedication to community service on Wednesday.
Skorton and several administrators traveled to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to launch the partnership, which will provide support for agricultural development projects aimed specifically at impoverished female farmers.
CARE — or the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere — works with poor girls and women to help lift their families out of the cycle of global poverty. Last year, CARE worked in 84 countries and helped 122 million people around the world, according to the University.
Spearheaded by Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, the CARE-Cornell partnership will provide financial support for CARE projects through the Impact through Innovation Fund.
Money from the fund — which is jointly provided by the Atkinson Center and CARE — will match CARE staff with Cornell research teams to create pilot projects for advancing sustainable food systems in developing countries.
The Impact through Innovation Fund currently has two projects in the works: a crop improvement program in Ethiopia and a healthcare initiative for women in Mozambique without reliable access to food, according to the University.
“Today marks an important milestone in bringing the impacts of research to our human family, especially its most vulnerable members,” Skorton said at the launch. “By meshing the expertise of Cornell faculty and students with that of CARE professionals on the ground, we are speeding the delivery of sustainable solutions to those who need them most.”
Panelists at the launch also recognized the partnership as an initiative that reflects Cornell’s commitment to the applied sciences, community service and international engagement.
Dorcas Robinson, director for gender and food security for CARE U.S., who sat on the panel at the program’s launch, cited Cornell’s dedication to applying science to real world problems as one of the reasons for the collaboration.
“Cornell is a world-class university with leading scientists in a number of fields, including climate science and agriculture,” Robinson said. “It’s a university committed to the application and practice of science.”
Prof. Christopher Barrett, applied economics and management and a panelist at the launch, emphasized the importance of the CARE-Cornell partnership in upholding Cornell’s mission as a land-grant institution, as well as reasserting its commitment to community service.
“Cornell is the only Ivy League land-grant university and is dedicated to coupling first-rate science with extension to solve problems in the world,” Barrett said. “You can think of CARE as being our cooperative extension [partner] abroad.”
Skorton reiterated this comparison in his address to local community service groups on Wednesday, noting that, as a land-grant institution, the University is dedicated to service in foreign countries, as well as in Ithaca.
“We are the only private college that has a formal public mandate to do this kind of service … we view the whole university under the land grant philosophy, not just the four public colleges.” Skorton said. “As we're approaching the 150th anniversary of the University … I think it’s unbelievably important that we are spending a lot of time and effort to be there as a public servant.”
Skorton also noted that the University was recently named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll — “the highest accolade” a University can receive for community service work, he said.
Barrett noted the importance of the partnership for advancing the mission outlined by Skorton in his white paper — a report issued in March that reaffirms the University’s plan to increase investments in international study.
“The president is trying to push for a heightened sense of international engagement on campus,” Barrett said. “What better way to do this than to strike a partnership between Cornell and a leading international humanitarian organization?”
Barrett said CARE is an organization composed of “highly motivated people with tremendous credibility on the ground,” who he said will benefit with Cornell.
“They need science and engineering based solutions — they need new, creative ideas that can only come from places like Cornell,” Barrett said.