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UF uses $1M grant to help eliminate poverty

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Posted: Thursday, July 2, 2009 12:00 am

More than 1 billion people in the world live below the poverty level, but, in fall 2010, UF will be one of the world's first universities trying to change that.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded UF nearly $1 million to create a new master's program that will train students to assist impoverished populations.

The foundation has donated $7.6 million to 10 universities worldwide to develop these master's programs over the next three years.

UF received the donation after competing against 70 other applicant universities worldwide.

In North America, only UF and Emory University in Atlanta, were awarded grants from the foundation.

The curriculum, emphasizing practical experience in the field, will consist of courses in management and in the natural, health and social sciences,.

The program, jointly administered by the centers for Latin American and African studies, will have relatively small class sizes.

"We anticipate admitting some 20 students per class; since it will be a two-year program, this means some 40 would be enrolled at a given time once the program is up and running," said Leonardo Villalón, director of the Center for African Studies at UF.

In addition to the foundation's large donation, UF has committed to spend approximately $800,000 over the next four years on the program, he said.

Although the program's first students won't enroll until Fall 2010, the centers for African and Latin American studies are allocating time to prepare for the program.

UF plans to partner with various Latin American universities and the University of Botswana.

"Poverty is such a huge global problem. I'm surprised a program like this hasn't been created before," said Aaron Clossey, a UF senior. "It's a great step in ensuring global improvement for the future."

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