Edmonds Community College and Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program alumnus Benjamin Kanligi was awarded a prestigious grant offered by the U.S. Department of State Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF).
Kanligi — a participant in the NWCCI — studied at Edmonds in 2012-13 as an international student from Ghana and earned a certificate in Business Information Technology. NWCCI is part of the Community College Initiative Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
The annual AEIF project competition is open to alumni of exchange programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). To participate in AEIF, alumni must join together in teams of five or more participants and propose innovative projects that tackle global issues. Each winning team is eligible to win up to $25,000 to support their project.
Out of the nearly 1,100 project ideas submitted, the proposal Kanligi submitted was among 60 that were selected as winners.
Kanligi’s project,“Techie Skills”, is a community service project designed to provide young people in communities in the city of Wa — the upper West region of northern Ghana — opportunities to develop information and computer technology (ICT) skills. Other important aspects of the project include entrepreneurship training and startup mentoring from players in the technology industry.
“The Techie Skills project provides a platform to youth who may have little or no knowledge in IT and entrepreneurship skills,” said Kanligi. “So bridging this skill gap and making a more meaningful impact in my community is the real motivation that ignited in me a passion to create the Techie Skills training project.”
Kanligi’s project is important because many young people in his community lack very basic IT skills.
“Even in schools, ICT is taught only in books, which is denying many people the practical awareness of IT and its related fields,” said Kanligi. “In addition, many young people don’t have the zeal to start their own businesses. They lack the passion coupled with few or no entrepreneurial skills to create business opportunities for themselves.”
Prior to receiving the AEIF grant, Techie Skills trained sixty youth in the Wa municipal area in two separate sessions with support from local fundraising and the U.S. Embassy in Ghana’s Small Grant Project Competition Fund.
The sessions included seminars such as “Facilitating Effective Startup Mentoring” and “SME Growth.” The Techie Skills team held their first training supported by the AEIF grant on October 20, 2014, with 90 youth participating.
Kanligi says he is a part of the project largely due to his participation in the NWCCI program and his studies at Edmonds Community College.
“Community service through volunteering is one of the things that I admired a lot during my stay in the United States,” said Kanligi. “The Techie Skills training project is a volunteer based community service program, and it’s a way to give back to my community after returning home from the CCI program in the USA.”
Through the NWCCI program — currently in its sixth year — Edmonds Community College, together with Pierce College in Lakewood and Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, have hosted 270 students from Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, Panama, South Africa, and Turkey.
NWCCI’s goal is to strengthen other societies by developing capable young professionals who graduate from the program having acquired professional skills, leadership abilities, and an understanding of American society, democracy. and culture.
To learn more about the NWCCI, visit northwestcci.com.