More than four thousand stories could be told about the remarkable individuals who received fellowships under the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program (IFP) between 2001 and 2010.
Over the decade, the program enabled 4,314 emerging social justice leaders from Asia, Russia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America to pursue advanced degrees at more than 600 universities in almost 50 countries. By April 2013, nearly 4,000 Fellows had completed their fellowships, receiving degrees in development-related fields ranging from social and environmental science to the arts.
A survey done in early 2012 showed that 82 percent of more than 3,300 former Fellows were working in their home countries to improve the lives and livelihoods of those around them, while many of the rest were studying for additional advanced degrees or working in international organizations. The final group of Fellows enrolled in universities around the world will complete their fellowships by the end of 2013.
In 2001, the Ford Foundation funded IFP with a $280 million grant, the largest single donation in the Foundation's history. The program was intended to provide graduate fellowships to individuals in countries outside the United States where the Foundation had grant-making programs. In 2006, the Foundation pledged up to $75 million in additional funds, allowing IFP to award more than 800 fellowships beyond its original projections.
As extraordinary as the level and duration of funding, though, was IFP's singular premise: that extending higher education opportunities to leaders from marginalized communities would help further social justice in some of the world's poorest and most unequal countries. If successful, IFP would advance the Ford Foundation's mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation and advance human achievement. It would decisively demonstrate that an international scholarship program could help build leadership for social justice and thus contribute to broader social change.
In striving toward its ambitious goals, the program would transform a traditional mechanism -- an individual fellowship program for graduate degree study -- into a powerful tool for reversing discrimination and reducing long-standing inequalities in higher education and in societies at large.
This report is the story of that transformation.